Couch to 5K - Drop back a week or push through?

Hi folks

I have recently started running again after a 6 year break. Previously I ran 5 miles several times a week, having started using the couch to 5k program. I completed that on my treadmill and then progressed to running outside.

This time I have no treadmill so i'm doing couch to 5k outside on the road from day one. While not having run for a long time i have walked my dogs most days 4 miles at a steady 4mph pace, so not starting from zero exercise.

I completed weeks 1 & 2 relatively comfortably and moved up to week 3 as of monday. Monday's run sucked, i felt really uncomfortable from the first 3 minute run. I decided it was just an off day and tried again today and I still can't make the 3 minutes of running. It's not my legs, it's my lungs failing me.

I know my pace is probably faster than it should be (for me, not in general), but despite getting prompts in my headphones to slow down i don't feel comfortable running slower.

So do I keep repeating the week 3 runs until they are comfortable, or drop back and repeat week 2, which i already felt comfortable doing?



  • You say you dont feel comfortable running slower.but you dont feel comfortable running this week,,,,

    I think you will have to slow down if its your lungs not managing 3 mins or you will not be able to progeress.

    as you say you can walk miles at 15 minute miling so you should be able to run a mile or two at a very slow pace......

    If you are not able to carry on a conversation you are going to fast.......

    so maybe try singing if you are running on your own.........

    good luck

  • Thanks for your reply. I seriously doubt I could hold a conversation so you are likely right pace is my issue.

    It's silly but I feel really uncoordinated the slower I run. I will just have to try to keep persevering with the slower speed and hope I adjust to it.
  • Remember when you run slowly your legs turnover at about the same speed - you just push off more gently. Try jogging on the spot to get the idea! image
  • Great advice, esp. from Seren. Its a very common issue, especially if you are used to a treadmill setting your pace for you. Now you are having to set your own pace, and I think you are setting off to fast.

    Faster feels better and - as you say - initially it feels easier in a strange way. its certainly less embarrassing. You just have to be confident in what you are doing and stick with the slow running (well, it's more of a shuffle than a run). Let fast snails and speedy tortoises overtake you. You should be able to (just about) breath through your nose. You will get sweaty, but not gasping for breath. You will often feel better at the end of a run than beforehand. Then it's just a case of repeating it.

  • If in any doubt at all, ease-up or repeat a week rather than push - no one ever got injured by a day off, as one popular coach likes to repeat.

    I'd also add that struggling to go slowly is not unusual and it takes time to adjust to moving your body in such a way...when I'm running with a beginner mate I find it tricky at times to match her speed when she's not pushing. I also have a mate who looks incredibly awkward and gangly when doing my easy pace when in reality he's a 34min 10k guy.

  • Thanks for all the great advice everyone. I will try to slow down and I think my form needs tweaked too as I've got a sore knee now. Suspect I'm heel striking. I forgot how much there is to think about in the early days. Look forward to the just getting out and running days.
  • Just wanted to update. I went out again today. Changed a few things as suggested and it went much better! Thanks again guys.

    I made sure my speed was no faster than 6.5mph, although ideally closer to 6mph. The first running interval felt really weird but I managed the 3 minutes comfortably.

    I also deviated from couch to 5k and did 3 sets of run 3 walk 3 and that felt better too. By the time I walked home in the cool down I was thinking about how I could have run another 3 on the way back image
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