Forgive the NewBie... General Advice

Hi All
Thanks for clicking this thread.
I've been 'running' for about 3 months on and off and am currently on week 7 of the Couch to 5 K NHS plan.
I'm getting frustrated with rest days and also with my limited distances and was hoping you lovely folk might have some general advice for getting better, stronger, faster and so on.
I'm sure this has been asked before but I have done a search and can't find anything.
Sorry if this is really annoying.


  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Hi Amanda, welcome to the wonderful, amazing yet sometimes frustrating world of running!

    It's great you are feeling you can go further and faster, but rest days are necessary to allow your body to recover from the running. A walk or a swim, as.of Saturday, is a way to do some less intense exercise on a rest day.

    I would suggest sticking to C25K then looking at the challenge of building up to a 10km. Adding some gym work is a good idea and stretching!

    Good luck. 
  • geddheddgeddhedd ✭✭
    Hi Amanda,

    I am also pretty much a newbie. I started Couch to 5k in Late Jan and finished it early April.

    From April onwards I started using Strava and going out on my own runs and it was only then that I actually started to enjoy it (for me it had been a means to an end to get healthier, I could never envisage it being actually enjoyable).

    I now run 4 times a week with a total weekly distance of around 25k.

    This is very small to more experienced runner's I'm sure, but for me it's still surreal to think I look forward to runs now and I can do this much and comfortably.

    As I am probably only a few months ahead of you I guess this would be my advice based on what I wish I had done or known, not necessarily what I actually did:

    Until you finish the couch to 5k, don't worry about times or distances. The first thing is just getting to the end where you can comfortably run for 25-30 mins. Pace and distance do not matter at that point. This sounds boring, but trying to go too fast when you are not ready is frustrating for yourself especially if you are comparing to more experienced runners. It also leaves you more likely to get injured.

    Once you have finished couch to 5k I would start recording on something like Strava or map my run and keep your 3 runs each week (assuming you have been doing it 3 days a week?). This will help you keep an eye on progress.

    Keep the pace really easy for the most part, and gradually increase your mileage each week but no more than 10%

    Easy running pace is a pace where you can hold a conversation comfortably. It is much slower than you would expect, but I have noticed the more experienced runners take their easy days easy, and their hard days hard.

    People often have a longer run day on the weekend, so maybe your long run day could increase each week? That's what I found the easiest to fit into my lifestyle, but it may be different for you. I just increased my long run day each week by a little more until I got to 10k eventually.

    Once you have got a solid base of easy running, then you can start to mix in some intervals/ speed work/ tempo runs etc... This is what will help increase your pace and they are really fun.

    Rest days are very important to prevent injury and to allow your body to repair itself so it can be stronger for the next time. I have already had to take some time off due to trying to go to fast too often at the beginning.

    Learn about stretching and when to do it. I was static stretching prior to runs but apparently this is a no no.

    I have done no gym work at all on my legs yet, so can't comment on this but have read it is very helpful so I aim to work this in soon.

    I went to a physio pretty early on as I was getting a few pains after my long runs. He recorded me on the treadmill and within a few minutes completely changed my running form and style and I am much much better for it with no pain since.

    I'm not saying it is essential to do something like the video physio, but form and how you land are very important and it helped me massively to sort mine out.

    Last bit of advice would be just to stick with it and be patient. Getting better, stronger, faster will all come in time :) I think once you are more experienced you can probably reduce the amount of rest days and swap them out for easy days but at this stage I wouldn't do too much too fast.

    I hope that was helpful!
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Can I just say that's a fantastically informative reply, geddhedd. Fully endorse everything you said.
  • geddheddgeddhedd ✭✭
    Thanks Guarddog, good to know I have learnt something along the way! :)
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    I was going to come up with my own pearls of wisdom, but couldn't add anything, you completely covered it :)
  • mrsb1988mrsb1988 ✭✭
    Can I just add to this (as I can't work out how to post a new thread) and ask about tempo runs/intervals/speed work etc. I keep reading about how this is beneficial but I'm struggling to understand what is is I have to do, where and for how long. I'm totally clueless.

    Thanks for any responses.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi mrsb1988 and welcome. 

    Tempo runs are training runs that would generally be at about 25 - 30 seconds per mile slower than your 5K pace. It's looking for a balance between the muscles ability to clear as much lactate as it produces. 

    Interval or speed sessions are where you introduce short bursts of quicker running effort followed by periods of recovery running. There's a number of different ways to do this:-

    • Intervals - as an example a 30 min session could incorporate 5 min warm up followed by 2 mins of quicker running and 3 mins of a recovery, repeat 3 more times and then finish with a 5 min cool down. 
    • Fartleks - where you run 4 mins at pace followed by 90 sec recovery, then 3 mins with 90 sec recovery, down to 1 min, and then repeat.
    • Pyramids - running at speed for 100m followed by 100m recovery, then 200m with 100m recovery, then 300m - up to 400m and then go back down again to 100m.
    • Repeats - 400m at pace with 400m recovery repeats doing 5 to 10 sets
    • Progression - start off at an easy pace for 10 mins, speed up for the next 10 and push harder for the last 10

    All these are designed to increase your speed over longer distances. It also helps with following the 80/20 principle whereby 80% of your running should be done at an easy pace and 20% should be harder pushing you towards your threshold.

    You may also want to consider doing hill work as well :smile:
  • mrsb1988mrsb1988 ✭✭
    Thanks Guarddog - this is very helpful.

    With regard to the timings and distances - how do you measure these? I'm currently using the Nike running app but looking to move towards Strava. I usually have this tucked away on my phone in my running strap/belt though so aside from hearing a voice that tells me when I've run 1km, 2km and my average pace, I don't know how I'd measure that time specifically.

    Do I need to look into a watch?

    Thanks again, and sorry I sound so clueless.
  • mrsb1988mrsb1988 ✭✭
    Also meant to add - how often should I be doing this sessions a week compared to a general run for leisure? I usually go out about 4 times per week at the moment.
  • TTTT ✭✭✭
    Hi Mrsb1988, the principle of 80:20 is a really good one to use. So if you are running four times a week then one tempo run each week should be okay (make sure you do a long warm up and cool down to help). 

    Most runners have a watch, many use Garmin (but they are down at the moment after a cyber attack), there are many other options. 

    I don't run the day after my progression run, legs don't want to!
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    I'm not sure if the Nike running app enables you to set-up workouts. As TT says something like Garmin would allow you to set up workouts which you can then download to a Garmin watch. You can then set the training routine dependent on what it was you were doing, either for distance or time.

    But for now I'd perhaps pick a simple exercise when you're next on your run of sprinting between 2 lamp posts and then use the distance between 3 to recover. You can then see how speed work feels without having to initially fork out.
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