New to running and not sure how to progress

Hi All,

I'm 42 years old and while I've always been pretty active, over the last few years I've put on a bit too much weight though. I'd like to shake that weight and running seems a great choice as I can do it anywhere, anytime. So after probably more than 15 years I decided to start pounding the pavement again.

Like a lot of people on here, I opted to do a couch to 5k, which I am just about done with. Even though my legs seem to be constantly angry with me, I can now run for 20 minutes without stopping and hopefully over the next two weeks will get to the elusive 5k/30 minute mark. My cardio does seem to be handling it better than my legs, but I'm guessing this will change with time.

I am enjoying my running and have started to look forward to it instead of it being a chore, so I'm starting to look ahead as I'm not sure what to do once I finish the program. I currently run 3 days a week with normally a game of rugby reffed somewhere inbetween. I seem to be maintaining a 6:30/km pace at the moment, but suspect that may be a bit fast as I start increasing distance. So where to once I get to my 5k goal? As I see it, these are my options:

1. Stay at the 5k distance for a few weeks until it becomes 'easy' and a quicker pace.
2. Stay at the 5k and run more days a week.
3. Go straight into a 5-10k program the same 3 days a week
4. Do a 5-10k but add 1 or 2 shorter runs in to build pace.
5. Some combination of the above.

I am looking at entering into a few 5k runs in a few months to see how I go, I could just use some suggestions on how to take the next step.

Thanks in advance for the help!


  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi stuscrim and well done on getting out and running. The first steps are always the most difficult and it's heartening to read that you're enjoying it.

    As to where to go now, actually I think you'll find that 5 is where you'll naturally head. To do 1 you'd probably need to do 2, improvement will come in pushing yourself a bit more as you find your endurance increases and the weight drops off. Having improved it would then be natural to start to push yourself to go further, so the next step is to build towards a 10K. If you can run 5K it's not that much harder to go up to 10K. And by adding in some targeted training, including some speed sessions, you would improve your pace.

    Good luck.
  • Thanks for the input Guarddog, it's much appreciated! Could you perhaps elaborate a bit on targeted training and speed sessions?
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    You're very welcome stuscrim.

    Once you've got your base endurance (i.e. knowing you can run the full distance) you gain speed from doing sessions that work on pushing your body a bit more towards your threshold points, i.e.:-

    • Intervals - so for a 30 min training run start with a 5 minute warm-up and end with a 5 minute cool-down and in between intersperse faster running for between 2  minutes and then slow to a recovery pace for 60 seconds and just repeat this for the middle 20 mins.
    • Progression - again for 30 min run each 10 min section faster than the previous one, so start off easy, then medium effort, then hard.
    • Fartlek - start off with a 5 min warm up and then run at threshold for 5 mins followed by a 90 second recovery, then 4 mins (90 second recovery), 3 mins all the way down to 1 min. 
    • Kenyan Hills - run a hill with a decent gradient and then run up this for 1 min and then come down again at the same pace. Repeat this 5 times and then do a 3 min recovery job before doing a second set.
    With all of these it's to do with the effort put in, but also the quality. You want to be doing this at a pace where you can maintain the effort, so don't go mad. Build up your pace until you feel as if you can push on. Also ensure your doing easy runs on other days. So if you're running 3 times a week do two easy paced runs either side of your speed sessions.

    If there's a Parkrun near you then they're wonderful for putting all this into practice before you enter a 5K. 
  • Hi, im new to here and im similar to Stucrim,
    Never ran before started one month ago and absolutely loving it.
    @stuscrim im planning on getting my current distance below 8mins a mile and then going to up a mile and keep doing that. not sure if thats any good just thought of it myself haha
  • Wow, thanks Guarddog, I never expected such a comprehensive response! That all makes much more sense now, I suppose the only questions I have is when you talk about running at threshold?

    Good work Webby! Yep, 8min/mile is a goal for me too. At the moment though I'm up to about 2 miles at 11min/mile so I still have a long way to go.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi stuscrim - threshold running is a pace that is faster or harder than your normal easy run, but is slower than your 5K or 10K race pace. While the pace is challenging, it's not so hard that you can't run that pace for 20 or 30 minutes if you're fit. The idea being that the more you improve the higher that threshold becomes. So if you're currently running at 11min/mile the aim would be to run slightly slower than that, but maintain that for 30 minutes. The more you build your endurance and do the speed work then you should find that your running pace gets quicker. 

    There's a school of thought that training should follow the 80/20 rule - 80% of your running should be at an easy pace and 20% should be at a fast pace. Hence the need to intersperse with easy runs.
  • @Guarddog i have never had a clue about running, never done it and still trying to come to terms to best practice. I haven't heard of the 80/20 rule but then again not heard of most of the stuff.

    @stuscrim Just keep at it, you will start shaving time off that every time.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    Hi Webby03 - there's many ways to enjoy running and I think best practice is down to the individual as to what you do, what your goals are and how much you want to push yourself. Personally I didn't really get in to any structured training until about 5 years ago. Up to that point I bimbled along thinking that 10min miles were my limit and anything faster for a prolonged period was just madness.

    Having set myself a goal of doing a 10K inside 60mins I started to take things a bit more seriously in terms of what I do for training. It does mean you become a bit obsessive, but on the flip side the satisfaction of going faster for longer is quite addictive.
  • @Guarddog yes i do feel already that im trying to better my previous time and been competitive at everything in life means i am at this too, so wanting to always beat my previous.
    Im currently going to do 2x 3.2km a week and 1x 5k, and then when ready move to 2x 5k and 1x 3.2 etc etc.
    I always wanted to do running but never bothered, always with the mindset of "i'll do it tomorrow" and eventually took the plunge and im so happy i did.
  • GuarddogGuarddog ✭✭✭
    It is a really good form of exercise Webby03. And in the last 2 years I've discovered a greater social aspect to it as well, having joined a running club. Unfortunately work prevents me from doing their training sessions, however I turn up for the regular race meetings, where we're competing against other clubs, and they're always interesting runs rather than just the same jog. Add in Parkrun to the mix and I run far more now than I used to. 

    And I think we're all competitive to a degree. With running, though, it's being competitive with yourself. Unless you see a club mate in the distance in one of the races and think you can reel them in  ;)
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