I would like to start a thread series called "Top 10 Questions of Running Beginners". I would like to encourage everyone to share their thoughts, opinions, comments, techniques and best practices so we all can learn from each other.
Here's question No. 1 - How long should my first runs be?
I believe there is no one correct answer to this question, becaue it is so dependent on general health, overall fitness level, and recent aerobic experience.
Let me use my son and my brother as examples, since they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. My son is 19 and thin (about 10-15 lb underweight). He's not a runner, but he's an avid and experienced hiker and backpacker. He easily hauls a 40 lb backpack up and down hills for miles, as if it were a daypack. For him, a program like C25K would be way too easy, and he'd probably quit out of boredom. My brother, on the other hand, is 61, overweight and sedentary. He'd be lucky to get through the first week of C25K intact. You get the idea.
@ 5K: Ontario Mills Run, Ontario, CA, 25:19
@ 10K: LA Chinatown Firecracker Run, Los Angeles, CA, 51:44
Hey, I resemble that remark. I am 62, overweight and have a desk job. I finished C25k almost right on time and without injury but I know what you mean. It was a struggle until the fifth week. Many of the younger women who started C25k at the same time are now running 12 and 11 mm. I am still at 14+ on a good day and happy as a pig in mud that my body is giving me that much.