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21057 Views 30 Replies Latest reply: Jul 2, 2010 6:47 AM by janawickham 1 2 3 Previous Next
runningnab Rookie 2 posts since
Mar 5, 2010
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Mar 5, 2010 6:07 PM

Top 10 Pieces of Advice That Helped Me Finish C25K

These are the top 10 pieces of advice from the forums which not only helped me finish C25K, but kept me going after it ended.  I don't claim at all to be an expert, so please take this advice with caution.  These are things that worked for me personally, and since I've benefited from everyone's support, I wanted to share and hope you find some of them useful.

I am a person who has never been athletic, struggled with weight all my life and have never run an entire mile without stopping to walk along the way -- EVER.  I'm not the "used to be fit in high school" person and have always struggled with running. And to top it off, I had major surgery on one of my legs which has limited my activity for the past year or so.  Though the odds seemed to be stacked against me, I still set out to finish the program.  And not to be cliche, but if I can do it, you can too!

(In no particular order)

1. SLOW, SLOW, SLOW.  I tried C25K before and quit because I couldn't finish the intervals and got discouraged.  After reading through the discussions, I realized I was running too fast.  So I started out jogging the intervals at a very SLOW pace.  In fact, I could basically walk as fast as I was jogging. However, my goal was to FINISH the interval in a jogging/running stride, and if it had be at a very slow pace so be it.  I would only speed up if I was nearing the end of an interval and felt like I could push myself for the last 30 seconds, minute, 2 minutes, etc.  And anytime I felt too tired to keep running during an interval, I would tell myself to run slower for a period of time before I would allow myself to walk.  As a result, I finished all the intervals as intended (no walking when I should have been running!), and it kept me motivated.  So when in doubt SLOW DOWN!  You have the rest of your running career to run faster.

2. Research running forms.  Because of my surgery I wanted to ensure that running did not exacerbate or create new injuries, so I researched a couple of running forms.  Since you're starting out and running slower, this is the best time to form good habits.  It would be a shame to have to course correct later, because you've injured yourself.  It can be overwhelming, but just look at a couple.  I chose "Chi" running and love it, but there are tons of discussions on this topic to help you find one that works for you.

3. Invest in good running shoes.  Make sure you have good shoes (within your price range of course) to help prevent injury.  I would recommend against using old running/tennis shoes that you've had in your closet for a couple of years.  I was tempted to do that myself, but I am really glad I didn't.  Instead I went to a specialty running store to get fit properly, and it's been a worthwhile investment.

4. Focus on the 30 minutes and less on the 5K.  Because of my fitness level and previous injuries, I decided to just focus on running for 30 minutes and ran however far I could in the allotted time intervals.  For me, focusing on the distance would have pushed me to run faster than I was ready to or would have discouraged me because it felt too long.  But once I finished the program and could run for 30 minutes, I now had distance as another goal to focus on completing.

5. Use a C25K podcast/application.  These are so helpful to track the time for you, so you can just focus on running. Love, love, love them!  I looked into Robert Ullrey's podcasts which are free, but ended up using the C25k App for the iPhone.  The best $3.99 I've spent, because it tracks the time, allows you to set your own music playlist from iTunes and has a nice, easy interface.

6. Mix in moderately fast to slow music.  I used to only listen to high energy, high tempo music, because I thought it would keep me energized, but it also encouraged me to run faster than I should.  So I started adding slower songs to my music mix to remind me to slow down.

7. Allow yourself to have some bad days.  There will be some days that will be great and some days that for whatever reason don't go as well.  Don't take bad days as an indication that you can't do it.  When I had bad days, I just kept it at that -- a bad DAY.

8. Try the 10 minute rule.  On the days when I really struggled with motivation, I would tell myself to go out for 10 minutes. If I still didn't feel like it after that, I would allow myself to stop and at least have the satisfaction that I tried.  But once I got out there, I found the energy to go another 10 minutes -- and then another 10 minutes or however long I had left.  Before I knew it, it was over!  So focusing on smaller time increments can help if you're struggling with motivation.

9. Breathe.  When I would get tired, I would slow down and focus on my breathing -- in through my nose to my gut and out through my mouth.  It helped get my mind temporarily off the pain and ensured my body got the oxygen and the extra boost it needed. I'm still trying to figure this out myself, so I would recommend researching the discussions on this topic.

10. Don't tell yourself you can't do it until you've tried it.  My runner friends told me running is as mental as it is physical, and I definitely found it to be true.  Your mind can either set you up for success or failure.  So don't defeat yourself before you even start.  There were times on the program when I would look to the next day/week and have a mild heart attack.  But when I started thinking "There's absolutely no way that I can do that...", I would stop myself and think "At least try it first before saying that." And amazingly, I would be able to do it using all the tips above to get me through that first 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes.

I recently finished the program and will be running my first 5K soon.  I can't tell you how gratifying it was to run my last run on the program and even better, I want to keep going.  You can and will be there one day too! Good luck and believe in yourself. 

  • KJdub Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 6, 2010

    GREAT ADVICE!  I love #s 8 and 10.  Like you, I've never been a runner, never been athletic AND I've been advised not to run because of my severely flat feet and knee problems.  I finished the program a few weeks ago, but I'm working on distance now.   My first 5k is in 2 weeks.  I currently run it in 40 minutes.  Would love to get to a 12 minute mile, but I'm just excited to actually run a 5k.

  • Janet689 Pro 122 posts since
    Feb 10, 2010

    Good advice.

    Congrats on finishing the program!  I'm proud of you.

    I had tried this program before and quit, because I didn't know about rule 1, so now I'm 3 weeks into it and going strong.


    An additional helpful hint, (definitely not a top 10 hint) but something I felt was helpful... is the 20 degree rule, if it's 45 degrees F out, dress for 65 degree weather to be comfortable.


    Started C25K 2/14/10 Age 51 and NEVER have run before.

    Coventry Challenge 5K 3/20/10, end of W5 of C25K. 40:44

    Spring Forward 5K (YMCA) 4/10/10 39:57

    Focus 5K Run/Walk 5/13/10 32:24... in Orlando on a totally flat course

    Coventry Challenge 5K 3/19/11 37:59

    ?Operation Backpack 5K 5/21/11 ??? fast-paced race, finished next to last

    Coventry Challenge 5K 3/17/12 38:11

  • disneygal2 Legend 455 posts since
    Sep 30, 2009

    Congratulations to you!   Excellent pieces of advice and encouragement to those starting out!




    Couch to 5 K Graduation Day November 26, 2009

    Dana Hills Turkey Trot  Thanksgiving Day 2009 5 K....  Time 32:22  MY FIRST 5k

    Jan 9 Irvine 5k Time 32:52

    Feb 7 Super Bowl 10k  1:08:31  MY FIRST 10K

    September 5 2010  DISNEYLAND HALF MARATHON:  2:41:00

  • Dallasdoll08 Pro 111 posts since
    Feb 11, 2010

    You really should find somewhere to post this for all the beginners.  I enjoyed reading all that I did to find these same tips but it would have been nice to have this list from the start.  Good job.

  • amtate Rookie 5 posts since
    Jun 27, 2009

    I love these tips. I did my first C25K August 2009 and kind of stopped running after that. I am finally getting back into the swing of things and will be running another 5K next Saturday. I decided to use the C25K training program again. Your tips are dead on! hang in there! I'm hoping to be able to do a 10k in October!

  • susanbarron Legend 390 posts since
    Oct 22, 2009

    Congratulations to you for finishing..pretty empowering isn't it! All of your tips were awesome and the very ones I learned along the way...I also encourage the 20 degree rule....found it much easier to be a bit chilly for the first 15 minutes then very comfortable for the duration of the run after fact today it was raining for my whole run but felt awesome!!


    Good luck to you in your running!

    October 2009- Started Couch to 5k

    November 2009- Folsom Turkey Trot 5k (W5D3 C25k)

    December 28,2009- finished Couch to 5k

    January 2010- Run for you Health 5k

    April 2010- Zoo Zoom 10k

    June 2010- San Diego Rock n Roll half Marathon

    November 2010- Folsom Turkey Trot 5k

    April 2011- 4 mile Legal Aide Society Run

    upcoming: September 17th 5k Run to Break the Silence

  • Holly Tamale 2 Rookie 1 posts since
    Mar 24, 2010

    Thank you for the useful information. I just ran my first 5k this past Saturday. I've walked them before but this time I actually ran the entire time without stopping. I did exactly as you recommended. I was not concerned with my time but had the goal of not stopping. My time was 44 minutes so the new goal is of course to focus on getting faster. Thanks for the great information.

  • mariefnp Pro 160 posts since
    Mar 13, 2010

    Thanks for your tips!! I completed this past Saturday the first 2 weeks of C25K. I'm having a problem with my knee though, and had to cut short the last day. Tomorrow should be W3D1, and I'm having 2nd thoughts...I have RA and therefore joint problems, but don't want that to be a deterrent.


    I am like you - never was athletic, always have had weight problems. I WANT to do this, but don't want an injury.


    I think I will try again tomorrow, but slow it down some. I basically can walk faster than I can jog too. But I need to focus on the time rather than the distance at first. I'll get might just take me longer than most!!!


    "Life is not about waiting for the storms to is about learning how to dance in the rain!"

    "The task ahead of you is never greater than the strength within you." - unknown

    "Character gets you out of bed; commitment moves you to action. Faith, hope and discipline enable you to follow through to completion."

    Began C25K 4/11/10 - have NEVER run in my life!!!!...C25K on hold with a knee injury

    Soon to start Jeff Galloway's training program for women

  • ThreeLittlePigs Pro 65 posts since
    Feb 16, 2010

    This is by far and away the best post of advice I've seen on these forums. Well done.

    My Goal is the Cork City Marathon on June the 7th, with three of my six Brothers, two of whom are multiple Marathon runners....

    1st Leg - Steve (Me) (5.4 Miles)

    2nd Leg - Denis (9.5 Miles)

    3rd Leg - Fiach (2.3 Miles)

    4th Leg - Ken (9 miles)

  • raytodd Expert 44 posts since
    Apr 16, 2010

    great points. I will bookmark this so that I can look back when I hit a roadblock thanks for this!

  • Amintha Rookie 1 posts since
    Apr 16, 2010

    This is fantastic advice, I only wish I had found this the first time I attempted the C25K!  If only I had known there was a program for the ipod so I could use my own music!  Thanks for posting the tips!

  • itsmytime Amateur 32 posts since
    Apr 20, 2010

    Wow! Great advice, thanks for sharing! I was also trying to run too fast until my DH pointed this out to me. Much better runs when not gasping for air

    Completed- The Renaissance at Colony Park 5k June 12, 2010

    Completed- Cresent City Classic 10k April 23, 2011

  • robybot Amateur 14 posts since
    Apr 30, 2010

    Great post!

    I've started c25k this week and your advices are really going to help me during the program! In my opinion #1 is the most important and helpful tip for any beginners!


  • mommymoose3 Rookie 1 posts since
    May 10, 2010

    Thanks for the great info.  I plan on running my first 5K over the July 4th weekend and am just over half-way thru my training.


    Completed races

    7/3/10 Mike Rokicki Memorial 5K run (my first race) 35:19

    Up Coming Races

    Indy Mini-Marathon 5-7-11-hoping to get 3hrs or less

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