Couch to 5k - when does it start to feel good?

So I’ve been doing the C-2-5K program for a bit over a month now, and it’s been going pretty well. At least, I haven’t felt like I was going to die at any point, and I can now run over 2km without stopping, which has never NEVER been the case before in my life.


I was hoping that as I got fitter (which I certainly am) I would start to feel better. Bouncier. More energetic. Full of beans. Actually I’m feeling tired and achy and lethargic almost all the time. Either it’s a run night, or I’m recovering from a run night, and I’m constantly jonesing after afternoon naps (mmmm…nap).

I was definitely expecting this at the start - after all, I’m making my body do all this work which it never had to do before, so obviously the energy I’m putting into the running is getting sucked out of the rest of my day, but I’m on week five now, so … when does it get better? Any c25k graduates out there got some encouraging stories for me?

I wish I could give you good news, but so far it hasn’t happened for me. But then, I’ve been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I guess I am not the touchstone to be using.

I recall it being right about where you are. There is a hump in there around week five or six that you need to get over.

But, for me, the first five to ten minutes of running ALWAYS sucked. Then I fell into a rhythm.

I haven’t been running much lately, and am back stuck on week five after finishing the program this summer. And week five does suck.

Just finished week five actually. I was always told by health/aerobics teachers that you don’t really see the results of a new workout until after the sixth week. This may just be old wives tales, but I’ve found it pretty true in myself.

After I started this program I had an energy burst in the third week but now I just feel normal. I haven’t had any aches or pains and I ran for 20 minutes straight yesterday (a personal best I believe). I’m looking forward to finishing week six to see if what my teachers said was true.

I think that this program (c25k) is so gradual that it’s probably a little hard for you to notice that anything is actually happening. I don’t think it gives dramatic results right away. Just so you know that the very fact that you can run 20 minutes is a dramatic result.

I also think that there is a hump in a new workout program, and you’ll probably start noticing in a few weeks that you aren’t quite as tired and achy, and you’ll probably normalise.

Make sure you’re eating enough. I get tired a lot when I’m running consistently (which means when I’m not on goddamned crutches, grr) and I think it’s because I forget that I need to eat more. Make sure you get breakfast especially on run days. A real one - oatmeal, that sort of thing.

I think this is good advice. I’ve also had trouble when I get to that point when I start running after a long hiatus. At first I feel strong, then things go downhill for a bit until I push past that wall. A lot of people told me to drink more water. I tried that, but I already drink lots of water, so the result was that I kept having to pee during runs. Everyone’s body works differently, but if you feel you’re drinking enough, I wouldn’t assume that’s the problem.

True, but for people who are running in in order to lose weight/create a calorie deficit, eating more to make up for the calories burned kinda defeats the whole purpose. Not suggesting anyone should starve themselves or anything but it’s just a fact of life; if you are eating less than you burn, it is normal to be mildly hungry and a bit tired.

Yeah, but when I’m running I eat better, just because it’s what I crave. A good breakfast of steel cut oatmeal beats a morning break run to the vending machine in the staff room in terms of weight loss, although it may technically be more food.

I was there too. Two things helped: persistence, and eating a cereal bar just before running. The bar will be around 200 calories and the run just about the same, but it’s insane to try to lose weight by running alone - its main benefit is increasing fitness, muscle mass, and your basal metabolic rate.

I found that “the hump” in any given run came earlier and earlier. At my peak it was occurring only 1 or 2 minutes in, then I felt like a running machine and could carry on for extended periods. After that I was able to go from C25K up to 9.25K in two weeks, increasing by around .5K each run. It was a breeze once I cottoned onto the need for a small amount of slow-release carbs prior to running. Next stop 10K.

“Couch to 5k - when does it start to feel good?”

Sometimes- never.

I had to run when I was in the Air Force Reserve for 3.5 years, then 7 years on active duty. I trained to the point that I could run 10K (6.2 miles) and was miserable every step of the way and for 2-3 hours afterward. I kept asking “Where is that endorphin high?”

I didn’t know at the time that I have exercise induced asthma, so that may have been a big factor. I hated running even as a child.

Ditto. I hated every minute of running. Not once did I want to start, and not once did I want to keep going. All I ever wanted to do was stop. And as soon as I was discharged, stop I did. I tell people that I always felt like I was drowning. It’s a terrible, terrible feeling.

Sorry to bring you down, OP.

The fact is, some people are not suited to be runners whether physically or mentally.
The principles of the C25K program can be applied to cycling, swimming, elliptical, whatever floats your boat.

Find something you enjoy doing and you’re far more inclined to stick with it.

If you’re achy and sore all the time, maybe it’s your shoes? I was achy all the time and thought it was normal until it was like that for 3-4 months and finally thought ‘maybe I bought the wrong shoes…’ Got fitted, and no more aches.

Also change up your route every once in awhile. I felt like things started to click around week 6 as well. I still get that tiny bit of dread before a run, but now I get excited thinking, ‘where am I gonna go today? How fast can I do it?’ I only started the program in August and just recently started running 5ks. I also have narcolepsy, so I’m tired all the time - so I can’t help you there really :slight_smile:

I’m just excited that I can run. I’m one those people I see out and about, that’s what puts the pep in my step.

Thanks for the replies, all (yeah, even the less optimistic ones ;))

I’ve definitely felt that “start of the run barrier” every time … it seems to go for about the first 500 metres or so where I’m thinking “ok, I can make it up to that corner … now I can make it to THAT corner …” and so on. Then I feel fine (more or less)

I’ve certainly never been “a runner”, previously, but it’s got some great advantages as a form of excercise - it’s cheap, you can do it any time, you can do it out in the park rather than some noisy sweaty gym. So I really want to make it work for me. I’m definitely going to finish the program anyway - if only for the bragging rights of being able to say “I can run 5k! W00t!”.

The point about different forms of excercise is interesting though. I wonder what the walk/run equivalent in swimming would be? Probably breaststroke/freestyle I guess. Hmmmm…

Assuming the same effort and being equally trained in each discipline, 1 mile of running is the same as .25 miles swimming or 2.5 miles cycling(road bike).

Drink lots of water after you run (this completely solved muscle soreness for me), and eat enough, especially enough protein (this completely solved after-workout-fatigue for me).

I don’t get the ‘runner’s high’ or extreme energy of any kind from exercise, but I do feel better overall the more active I am. I don’t bother to run much because it’s just not that fun for me, I would rather get exercise in forms I enjoy a lot. I can still run 5k without much effort even though I’m not in practice.

I heard someone else say once that for them, the entire first mile pretty much sucks, and the reason that they never liked running as a kid was because they never managed to get past that point. Which, you know, I can kind of agree with. I’m doing longer runs these days of 3-6 miles, and yeah, the first mile or so is kind of crappy on a regular basis. So just finding your stride and sticking with it for longer periods of time can help with some of this.

Apart from that, other people have hit the highlights. I do find that eating better helps a lot. If I try to run on a completely empty stomach, or when I’ve had too much junk food in the previous day or so, I feel like I’m running while dragging weights behind me. Getting proper sleep is also key.

When I was doing C25K I’d say week 6-7 was when it started to click for me. I remember having a really good run where I felt great in week 4, and then it didn’t happen again for a couple weeks after that. That said, I have always, without exception, felt better after a run than I felt before the run. If that’s not true for you, well, I’d still hang in there to see if things turn around, but I don’t know, maybe it is a sign that running isn’t your bag. (So to speak.)

I found out I have diabetes in Febuary of this year. I weghed 220 lbs and ot out of breath on the stairs in my split level house.

I started off getting ready for an 8k, then 10k, and last month ran a half marathon! My training for a full marathon in April starts in 2 weeks.

I remember feeling like I couldn’t make it to the corner and back. But ya gotta stick with it as long as you aren’t having any type of real pain.


So I have crossed over that dreaded barrier, but Iam not that far ahead of you. But these days if I can’t get in a good 6 or 8 miler a few times a week I get antsy. I WANT to run!

Believe me, if I can get over that hump, anyone can!

I feel your pain. I’ve been a runner for the last 20 years but took four months off for arthroscopic knee surgery and recovery. It’s like starting all over again, and it sucks!
Even on my best days the first half mile was always unpleasant, but it does get better.

Let me ask you this: does your form start to break down at some point? If it does, going beyond that is doing more harm than good. You may need to go a little easier and not worry about some arbitrary time table to reach your goal.

I did Couch 2 5K last year, and it never really did feel good.

This year, I took it up again. Lo and behold, it’s only my third week and I can already tell a difference. I’m stronger and more energetic. Even stranger, the runs feel good. Part of it is that I’ve learned to push out a lot of my stress on these runs. I look forward to the chance to get some of that stress out.