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No Pain, No Pain: The “Couch to 5K” and Humane Design

Posted Jul 6, 2008

Last month, reporter Kevin Callahan of The Courier-Post, a New Jersey newspaper, invited me to do an interview about the Couch to 5K program for new runners, or “C25K” to its fans. I wrote the C25K in 1996, and since then, thousands and thousands of people have used it to make running part of their lives. I’m often a little overwhelmed by its popularity. There are C25K podcasts, C25k fan sites, and over 50,000 C25K Google search results.

As I answered Kevin’s questions, I realized that there are several similarities between running programs and software programs. My philosophy in designing C25K overlaps neatly with my philosophy of software design:

  1. Eliminate pain.
    If it hurts to do it, people will give up.

  2. Welcome newcomers.
    Friendly language and reasonable expectations are crucial in early experiences with a program.

  3. Deliver early victories.
    If you feel like you’re kicking ass from the start, you’ll be eager to continue. Otherwise, you’ll decide that you suck, the program sucks, or both. See #1 above.

  4. Make it easy and rewarding.
    We are creatures of inertia; we need carrots to get moving.

  5. Not everyone wants to be a power user.
    Some people will be content to master the basics and stop there; others will want to continue to develop and explore. The program should accommodate both paths.

The final article ran in June but, alas, now lives behind a pay firewall. Here’s the original Q&A from the e-mail exchange.[ 1 ]

Q: Did you personally start slow as a runner and then work your way up to a 5k?

I wish I had. I used to hate running. I thought running was for masochists. Every time I tried it, even as a reasonably fit 20-year-old, it felt terrible. I wheezed, I had muscle soreness, it hurt.

For a few months in my early 20s, though, I found myself particularly determined to become a runner. I pushed through the discomfort for a few weeks. When my body finally became accustomed to it, I discovered, wow, running doesn’t have to hurt. It can actually feel good, even meditative. It became something that I looked forward to, that gave me energy and, as a happy byproduct, also happened to keep me fit and healthy.

Q: How did you come up with this novel notion of Couch to 5k?

When I finally became a runner, I had the zeal of the converted. I wanted to share with others this secret I discovered: Running doesn’t have to suck. Anybody can do it. (That’s one of the great things about running: it’s accessible to everyone. It’s inexpensive. You don’t need a team. You don’t need lots of gear. All you need is a pair of shoes and a place to go.)

So I started a website that detailed all that I had learned. I created a section for new runners to help people make it through that initial skepticism and physical discomfort, and the Couch to 5K program was the centerpiece.

I actually wrote the program with my mom in mind. She was 50, didn’t exercise, always hated it, but wanted to do something for her health. And I couldn’t have been more pleased when the program worked for her.

Q: Why do you think it is so hard for people to get off the couch and run?

"Most new runners stop running because they think it hurts, it's uncomfortable and it's boring. That's not exactly a recipe for success."

Most new runners stop running because they think it hurts, it’s uncomfortable and it’s boring. That’s not exactly a recipe for success. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you adjust your effort so that you’re stretching your limits, but only a bit, you can gradually ease into running without the unpleasant experience that so many non-runners associate with running and jogging.

But also, people are creatures of inertia. Even now, I find that hardest part of running is just getting out the door. Once I’m out there, it feels great, and I’m glad I’m doing it, but sometimes it’s just hard to get your body moving. One of the best ways to overcome that inertia is to have a sensible program that truly fits your fitness level. When you have that, you discover that exercise can actually be pleasant, not a drudgery.

Q: What is the reason a runner should ease into their running program gradually?

The “no pain, no gain” approach to fitness is not sustainable for most people, because frankly, pain isn’t very much fun. In order to build a sustainable personal fitness program, it has to be fun, it has to give you a sense of accomplishment, and most of all, it shouldn’t hurt. While a certain level of discomfort or muscle soreness is inevitable at the very beginning, the goal has to be to keep that to a minimum.

By starting slow, you can actually accomplish what you set out to do. You meet with success right away, and you give your body a chance to adjust to these new demands.

Q: Why do you think the program is so popular with people starting out?

It’s something you can actually do. You can actually follow the program and complete it. A lot of people have a history of failure with exercise, trying to do too much before they’re ready. This program gives a lot of folks their first experience of success with physical fitness.

Q: Is one of the keys to the program starting out as more of a walking and jogging program?

Yes, you have to walk before you can jog. You have to jog before you can run. After two months, the program has you jogging three miles, three times per week.

Q: Is two months the time the average couch potato can expect to run a 5k by following the program?

"It has to be fun, it has to give you a sense of accomplishment, and most of all, it shouldn't hurt."

By following the program, after two months, most people can cover a 5K distance at an easy jog. From there, you can decide where want to go.

Some people just keep jogging at an easy pace at that three miles, three times per week -- that’s certainly a reasonable fitness program. Others feel particularly enthusiastic about their newfound ability, and they continue to develop it, running faster or farther, maybe even participate in some local road races. The program gives you a base of fitness that lets you decide where you want to go.

Q: Would trying to do too much, too fast the biggest temptation of the program?

Patience is so incredibly important for new runners. As people discover that they actually like running and that they’re actually able to make progress, there’s a real temptation to jump ahead, to try to make that progress come faster. It’s important to resist that, to give your body a chance to get used to all this new activity.

Q: If the program is too tough, or a participant is sick or sore one week, is it OK to stretch out the workout for longer than two months?

Of course. Like any fitness program, the Couch to 5K is just a guideline, and you should feel free to adjust it to your needs. If you feel like you’re not quite ready to take on the demands of the next week, it’s fine to repeat a week or even to go back to the previous week. The important thing is just to get out there, move your body, and make incremental progress. In order to work, it has to be fun, and it has to be within your comfort zone.

1. The article pretty much ran the Q&A as-is, except that my use of the word “suck” was redacted to “stink.” (While I appreciate that “suck” may not be appropriate for a family paper, “running doesn’t have to stink” doesn’t quite capture what I was going for.) [back]

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71 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.

Dec 16, 2009 1:15pm [ 1 ]

Does it make any difference about age? I am 66 and fairly good healt. Little overweight but no health problems.

Mar 16, 2010 4:32pm [ 2 ]

I'm a 27 year veteran of the Army; still in. I run what most people would consider a lot. However, I hated running in the begining, and still have a challenge getting out there to do it consistently, because, as Josh says, human nature usually equates to inertia. I've been looking for a way to help my 'non-runner' wife get into something that will work well for her and I think this will be it. Thanks for making this accessible.

Apr 13, 2010 9:27am [ 3 ]

I completed this program last fall so I could run a 5k on Thanksgiving day - I'm happy to say I ran the whole 3.1 miles! My only gripe with this program is that it assumes you will be able run at a 6 mph pace from the beginning! Even at my peak I jog slowly at 5 mph so it takes me 36-39 minutes to run 3.1 miles. Otherwise this program was very successful for me!

May 11, 2010 9:08am [ 4 ]

I'm returning to some sort of exercise after a period of ill health (surgical removal of a brain tumour & follow on radiotherapy) and hope to see some positives from the C25K as an alternative to my preferred form of exercise - cycling, in terms of less preparation time - get dressed, running shoes on, get out, no bikes to sort out etc. It also means I can take the dog with me, two birds and one stone!

May 16, 2010 9:49pm [ 5 ]

I want to thank you for developing this program. I am an overweight (225lbs) woman who is currently on week six but I was so excited when I completed week 5. I have never been able to jog and remember back in highschool how much I struggled to make one lap around the track. I never was able to make it once around the track, which was 1/4 of a mile. I am proud to say that on my 33rd birthday, I was able to do the straight 20min jog, which was about 1.5 miles!! What a birthday gift to myself! So for all those folks out there who lack confidence and think they can't do it, I'm proof that you can. Thank you so much, you've helped me develop confidence and self worth that I have never had. I feel like I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do and I can't wait to finish out these next few weeks. I have never felt so good!

Aug 7, 2010 10:35am [ 6 ]

I had a heel spur and hAvent been able to run in two years. Thanks to physio the spur is better and I began the programme today. Six weeks should mean that by Canadian thanksgiving I can go in a fun run. It's the motivation I need.

Sep 15, 2010 12:11am [ 7 ]

I NEVER thought I would run C25K has helped me to be successful and even that I enjoy it! I am in better shape now than I have ever been in my life.

Oct 7, 2010 9:40pm [ 8 ]

I just completed my very first workout and I feel GREAT. At 210lbs, I feel like I can do anything. In less than two months, I'll be a competitor in a 5-person Relay Race - I know I can do it.

Oct 22, 2010 8:38am [ 9 ]

I was never, ever able to run - not even in high school - and was thrilled when I successfully completed the C25K at age 45, just four years ago. I was able to jog at a nice 5.2 mph pace.

Alas, I had a couple of minor injuries and fell off the wagon. So here I am again, 3.5 years later, and I've started again this week. I love this program!

Nov 9, 2010 7:45am [ 10 ]

Run? never in my life but this site has inspired me in a way I have never ever experienced. I have signed up for my first 5km in Killarney in couple of weeks and can't wait. I don't care what time I do it in I just want to finish. I am 47 years of age, 4 stone over weight and am just loving every single step. ANYONE can do it and believe me its addictive. My friends cannot belive my enthusiasm and my daughter figures if I've stuck at it this long (week 6 day 2) then she's going to start also

Nov 10, 2010 9:19am [ 11 ]

I've always made excuses why I couldn't run. Stuff like, it's too hard on my knees, it's too hard on my frame, etc. I finally gave up the excuses and just started running and had a horrible difficult time with it. Then a friend suggested C25K program. I've just completed week two and feel great, lost 10 pounds, bounding in energy, and my confidence is up. I swear I'm even thinking clearer if that makes any sense.

Thanks you for this amazing program...

Nov 13, 2010 11:30pm [ 12 ]

I love this program! It has helped me get back into running. The one thing I would love to see is an added program to help with speed!!! I want to get my run time down and would be nice to have this program help with that as well! Thank you!

Feb 26, 2011 9:21am [ 13 ]

Just starting and so far so great!!! Love everything about this program, the ease of use and also the working up is a wonderful concept. Tried running both at night and in the morning, found that the morning time is much better to do this activity. It gives you a sense of a new beginning, fresh air and everything is alive. Birds waking, people moving about and it gives you a great start to a day. Love it!!! Thanks

Feb 27, 2011 6:01pm [ 14 ]

I am absolutely loving this program! At over 200lbs and from someone who would rather rip her fingernails off than run, I had to make changes with my life and started here. I just finished week one, about to head into week two and I really look forward to my running days.

Tony G.
Mar 10, 2011 1:16am [ 15 ]

Is there 6'3", 300 lb'ers out there???? A friend told me about this and I was skeptical but decided to try it anyway. I did my first session on Monday. It hurt a little and still sore now but i was excited I could finish. I'm literally stepping out the door to complete part 2 of week one. I guess what has me excited is that this seems realistic even for a guy my stature and size! Wish me luck and I hope I will have success like everyone else has!!!

Matt P
Apr 7, 2011 5:05pm [ 16 ]

Not sure if I'm too late to help you, Tony, but I started trying to get in shape in November when I got on the scale and realized that I was 6'2" and 350lbs. Today we're just over 5 months later and I'm down to about 285 and just did day 2 of week 6 today. You can do it!

Apr 13, 2011 10:21am [ 17 ]

I am a 51 year old woman that started running the c25k yesterday and am so excited about it. I ran a 5k YEARS ago and just quit after I did it. I've wanted to start back for a long time but couldn't get motivated until now. I'm so excited about it, I'm trying to get everyone I know to join me!

Becky A
Apr 15, 2011 2:15pm [ 18 ]

I began the C25K last Fall with hopes of being able to compete in some 5k events this Spring, but when I got to week 6 I stalled. I just couldn't get to that 20 min. continuous run-ever. After a visit to the Dr. I have discovered I have Achilles Tendonitis and falling arches. So after some PT and orthodic inserts I am supposedly able to start running intrvals again. My question: Why wasn't I able to push past the interval part of the program? Running the intervals went great, but transitioning to a continuous run just didn't happen. Running became harder, rather than easier. Any explanations for me would be extremely helpful as I plan to start on week 5 of the program next week. :-)

Apr 19, 2011 6:42am [ 19 ]

Becky A, it's mental!! The first time I did C25K, I had a hard time getting past intervals as well. I did once (W5D3) and then never again. So I stuck with interval running for the next few years. I stopped running this winter and with the better weather I am ready to start over. I want to run continuously and I know the mental hurdle awaits at the 20 minute mark. I've completed 2 full marathons, 3 half marathons and other distances as well. I can endure over time but the continuity is what's always killed me. THIS time it won't. Come on Becky A, let's go and conquer it together! (Though don't ever be upset for running intervals forever either. I loved it and accomplished quite a bit with interval running. I do love it and will continue to use intervals for long distances. I just want to be able to do a 5 or 10K while running all the way.)

May 6, 2011 5:35pm [ 20 ]

I had started my own interval running with a friend for the first couple of weeks of starting out then I found the C25k app' and I found it really helpful to have a trainer in my ear to spur me on. I have always hated the idea of running but have had to turn to it for exercise as I can no longer afford the gym!! I have two aims, firstly, that I am entered in the 'Race for Life 5k' run in July and am eager to jog for the whole thing and as a natural 'pear' shape at 40, I would love to finally tone up my legs and bottom to slip easily into size 10 jeans. I would like this app even more if it told you how far you had run and at what pace instead of just the minutes. It has converted me to wanting to be a runner and as I live by the sea, on a sunny day it's a pleasure to pound the beach front. I hope, too, to shed at least 10lbs like Keith .... Thanks for converting me.

May 23, 2011 8:20pm [ 21 ]

I'm a 26 year old girl and I've always hated running, like everyone else here apparently. I am now on week 8 of the programme and I am always thinking about running, it feels great!! Sometimes I just can't resist and I don't interval one day between sessions, becaus it feels just too good. Two weeks ago I even run my first 5k run and I never walked, I kept running the whole time! And I was just on 6th week :D Thanks so much for inventing the c25k!

May 26, 2011 6:47am [ 22 ]

I never ran before, hated it with passion even when i was doing high level sports between age 17-22. Then i quit sports for various reasons and did nothing for 13 years. I use to weight 155 pounds at my top shape, i weight 190 today. I started by quitting smoking (6 months now). My 40 year old brother talked me into this and we are running together at 5.30 am. First week was tough, i am in my second week and feel already great and my body rediscovers the joy of physical exercice and i am excited when my day of running comes. Thanks for this it is awesome!

May 26, 2011 9:02am [ 23 ]

Okay folks. I'm 57 and so out of shape! And overweight. I started yesterday and made it half way through the workout as instructed but couldn't keep up the run portion so I walked the remaining. Should I start with day 1 again tomorrow. Has anyone at the more mature age started this program as a new comer to running and been able to train their body to be a runner? I would love to run with my daughter who just completed her first marathon. Running a 5k with her would be awesome. Any women out there that can give me success stories?

May 27, 2011 1:01am [ 24 ]

Hey Mary!

I did this program a couple of years ago. I was 47 then and weighed between 200 and 225. Most weeks are the same or very similar in each of the three workouts for the week. So, doing day 2 or day 1, you'll be doing the same thing. I found that if I wasn't able to do the 3rd workout of the week reasonably easy, it was best for me to repeat that week's workouts again for another week. I think that there were only two weeks I had to repeat again. I was amazed week after week that I could accomplish the workout. It probably took me about 11 weeks or so, but I could really run the 5k without stopping. Alas, however, winter came, and I stopped running. I'm just now starting it up again. But, I wanted to share how it went before. Hang in there, repeat a week if you don't feel ready to move on, and you'll get there. I'll be working on it along with you!

Mary Anna
Jun 3, 2011 3:20pm [ 25 ]

Mary, I did this last fall after seeing a blog on; I was 235 and 56 at the time. It took me 13 weeks but I did finally run a full 5K race on 12/5/10.

The very first run cycle on the very first day I thought I was going to die. So I slowed waaaaaaaaaaay down & pretty much as Sha said, if I had to struggle with any of the workouts for the week, I just repeated the week. I've just completed a 10K event and am now starting training for a marathon. Running and me -- amazing.

Be patient, but be persistant. You can do it, take it from a Slow Fat Runner.

Jun 6, 2011 1:30pm [ 26 ]

Looking for some tips on re-starting. I did this program last year and loved it... After about 4 months of only running on a treadmill and only intermittently, I feel like I'm starting all over but struggling with WHERE in the program to start again and how fast to move through. Has anyone else started over?

Jun 15, 2011 8:04am [ 27 ]

I am a 47F and just completed W4. I have a goal to complete a marathon by my 50th birthday. This may sound a bit dramatic but in 4 weeks I feel like this program is changing my life. I have never been so motivated and optamistic. It's not always easy but achieving these small goals and seeing the progress week to week, makes me want to keep going and although I was not obese, some weight loss and toning has been an added benefit.

Jun 20, 2011 11:43pm [ 28 ]

I am a COUCH POTATO!! I just heard of this today and it sounds great. I have been walking anywhere from 3/4 to 1 mile daily (Mon - Fri) for 2 weeks and its all I can do to trudge the mile! Looking at this schedule, I should be so much further along by now. I would love to get out there and at least make it to a jog. How long should it take to get from trudge to brisk walk?!?

Jun 23, 2011 11:26pm [ 29 ]

Hi there I've start this program three weeks ago. I was a really active running about four years ago but I've had three babies since. I've tried in-between dash baby to run but cOuld never get going. I'm finding it much harder now. Having said that I'm loving this process. Just wondering though, in week 5 there is a random 20mins run. Is this correct??? I'm very nervous for this. It seems intense compared to the pace it's been going so far. And it lands on my 33rd birthday! Lol Well just wondering if this was correct and how other handled it.

Jun 24, 2011 12:52pm [ 30 ]

Hi Lindsay!

I'm happy to say that last sunday I ran my first 5K race after finishing this program, it feels great!! I'm running another one next sunday, so, as you can see, it's pretty addictive :)

About your comment on the 20min run, I thought the same when I saw it on the app: "How am I gonna make it?" But trust me, as hard as it looks, by that time your body will already be prepared for it, and you'll feel great after you've done it... (I did!)

Hope my comment helps...

Take care!

Todd Kessler
Jun 27, 2011 3:47pm [ 31 ]

Hey there Lindsay! I just started week six today but had a difficult time with W5D3 and the 20 minute run. I attribute it, partially, to going from running on the street and sticking strictly to the times to starting on a HS track (W5D1) and going strictly for distance and not concentrating on how long it takes. I didn't quite make it! I ran 5 laps (1.25 miles), walked 1 (.25 miles), ran 2 (.5 miles), walked 1 (.25 miles), and then for good measure ran 1 extra lap so I could say I actually "ran" the prescribed distance. So I did make the total distance but cheated a little. That said, I did find today's run (W6D1- back to intervals) very challenging so my advice to you would be to do your best on that 20 minute run but redo the whole week 5 if you can't quite make it. If I can't make this weeks full run (W6D3- 25 minutes) I'm going to give this entire week a replay. If you don't quite make it don't beat yourself up- could you imagine a month or so ago that you'd have made the progress you have? It really feels great doesn't it?!? Keep up the good work and just remember a mis-step is still a step in the right direction if you've got your mind right! :) Todd (39 years old, 5'11", 280 lbs and dropping)

Jul 7, 2011 12:07am [ 32 ]

Started the program in November 2010. I was 47 yrs old and 60 lbs overweight. Eight months later I am still 20 lbs away from my goal weight. I'm running 3 miles three days a week and run a little extra on Sunday. I have to admit I still don't care for running, but the program has helped me be successful and more confident. It is a program that many can follow with success. Just last week my doctor took me off my blood pressure meds. I'm excited about my results. Thank you!

Jul 7, 2011 5:36am [ 33 ]

I'm a 33yo female. I'm 5'2 and weigh 150 pounds. I just started the C25K last week. I've never been able to run before, but I'm on week 2 and doing great! I'm amazed at how I've been able to keep up. I find myself looking forward to the next run. My goal is to finish a 5k without walking by the end of October....and it would be great to lose these 15 extra pounds I've been carrying for a while now. Thanks for the program!!

Jul 12, 2011 7:58am [ 34 ]

Reading the comments on here really shows what a brilliant programme this is. Every single person feels like they have achieved and are succeeding, regardless of how far into the programme they are and I think this is definitely key in getting people to stick with it.

Anyway, I'm now starting back on this, having gotten to week 6 a few months ago and having to stop because of other commitments. I'm starting again at week 4 and it's coming back well so far.

Jul 16, 2011 7:03pm [ 35 ]

I have looked into this program before but the timing was never right. It is the middle of winter now where I live and I'm starting this tomorrow. I'm nervous about it but it's an excited nervous so I'm feeling really positive. It's so cool to read all of these amazing stories of success, of people just like me who have achieved their goal. It's going to be an exciting and challenging few months! Well done and good luck to everyone.

Jul 26, 2011 7:58am [ 36 ]

I recently followed another program on the Nike+ site and the end result was supposed to be the same as c25k... Ending in running for 30 minutes.

I got stuck where I could run 10 minutes and would just not budge. The main issue is my calves and shins, it hurts so much still even though I've been at it for over 5 months.

I have signed up for a 5k at the end of September and am hoping to be able to do the 3 miles non-stop by then. I will start c25k today and I hope it will help me progress. I've been doing calves exercises to see if the pain improves. I would not have problems running this long if it weren't for this pain!

Good luck to everyone who's trying :)

Sep 3, 2011 1:31pm [ 37 ]

Thank you everybody for your honesty and insight. Just completed W1D3 and planning to moving ahead to W2. Hoping I can sustain the 90 seconds non-stop. I am on my own here and really thankful to get motivated by your comments and successes. Have not registered for the program or purchased the phone app yet, don't want to get ahead of myself yet and end up throwing the money down the drain. Would like to hear if folks have found the added websites and apps worthwhile. Just want to be successful like all the folks commenting above. Signed, 53, overweight and out of shape....

Jo Ann
Sep 3, 2011 8:52pm [ 38 ]

I am 48 years old and only tried running 1 day in college and hated it! My brother, a former Marine, started the program to start running again after a back injury and lost alot of weight. I needed to find an exercise I could stick with and because I HATE the gym, I thought I would try this. I am on week 7 and can jog 25 minutes straight! 48 years old and overweight! I haven't lost any weight yet, but hopefully soon! I really can't believe I am able to do this after only 7 weeks! I am going to try to run a 5K in November. A few friends have called me inspiring for sticking with this program! I have to say... I am very proud of myself. I don't feel like a lazy slug anymore. Thanks for an awesome program!

Oct 24, 2011 2:42pm [ 39 ]

Wow, it was great to read all these comments! I just finished week 1 myself and though I am still slow (avg. 13.5 pace) I'm so proud of myself for just getting out there and doing it. It's amazing how we all HATED to run and now we are out there kicking some butt. Even just putting on the proper gear and shoes made me feel better about hubby even commented on it :) Can't wait to do W2D1 tomorrow. My first 5k is on Dec 17!!!!

Dec 31, 2011 3:29pm [ 40 ]

I'm in the middle of week 4 and feel great. Your program makes me feel like I can do it. I am recuperating from a year and half of dealing with Lyme disease. During that time I was always exhausted and in pain causing me to gain weight and gy out of shape . Now I'm planning to run a 5 K this year , thanks.

Jan 15, 2012 3:42pm [ 41 ]

32yr old mother of 5. Anniversary is coming so I need to drop weight from our youngest who is10 mo old. Signed up for a 5k at the end of May for a local fallen hero. If that's not motivation enough I don't know what is. W1d1-check! Let's get it!!! (app in phenomenal btw!! Inexpensive and effective!!)

Jan 18, 2012 7:41pm [ 42 ]

I turned 40 in June and have never done any exercise in my life. I had an extremely busy year last year and another one the same coming up - work, study and family. I have been exhausted just thinking about how this year was going to go... so I decided while on holidays that I need to get more energy to cope with the demands of this year. I need to exercise. A 40-something friend of mine has encouraged me to do this program, so I thought I would give it a go. After the first day, I was so excited that I could actually RUN! First time ever! I am up to week 3 and continue to be amazed that I can follow this program and continue challenging myself. I am motivated and energised and feel I can conquer the world! Bring on all the busy-ness of 2012! I guess the big challenge for me will be to keep up this pace when work and study and school is all back on in February. But I am determined to succeed and prove to myself that this is possible.

Feb 25, 2012 1:42pm [ 43 ]

The last time I ran with any method was 1982. Today is the second day I have ran, not far, just a beginner. It is amazing, after 30 years I can still see a glimpse of that freedom, that air of independence, that challenge in running to the next mailbox. I can see that 20 year old, 125 lb. carefree guy running, it's me, he just happens to be a 50 year old, 175 lb. guy that worries. But now I can afford good running shoes, excercise self-control to limit over-exertion and enjoy getting back in shape. Age has its benefits.

Mar 3, 2012 6:37pm [ 44 ]

I like your program, your list of similarities between running program and computer program... and the photo above :-)

There are other similarities between training and software development - e.g. development cycle. Instead of installing and using program there comes and important race, and then comes another turn through the cycle. If you don't use classic development cycle while developing software products, ok. But in training planning there are other models, too :-)

Mar 11, 2012 11:49pm [ 45 ]

I'm 48 years old and I just complete the first run of week nine. I only ran 5 mph but was able to run 2.5 miles. I love this program but wish it was set up to assist with increasing your speed also. Others have commented that they also ran slower and were finally able to complete 3 miles in 36-38 min. I'm excited to continue to reach my goal of 3.1. Never thought I could complete this!!

Apr 8, 2012 5:24pm [ 46 ]

Just ran 20 minutes straight and with 5m warmup and cooldown it was 4.0 Km in 30 minutes. This is a great leap for me as I never ran that long in my whole life. In week 5 I found an inner rythm, if is is too tough I take smaller steps, but in the same pace, mine. I can run to the woods, over the field and back and then to the road, I used to drive to it!!! Wow, I'm gonna run farther and farther, away from it all, but I'll be back in a half hour. (48y 100kg)

Ted Packard
Apr 17, 2012 11:24am [ 47 ]

I'm just starting week 5 of C25K, Last Sunday I ran the Arlington MA Boys and Girls club Fun run. 2.7 miles. I used this weeks work out of run 5min walk 3min repeat. Took me 5 repeats to finish the run in 36 minutes.

Jun 10, 2012 6:57am [ 48 ]

I think this is a wonderful programme but people should remember it isnt only about overweight people trying to lose weight or for those getting back to fitness after ill health. I am a 49yr woman who is very slight (just over 8st) and people seem to think Im in amazing health. Generally I am but my fitness levels are very poor. I am constantly out of breath after running up the stairs an therefore I am very keen to try out this programme. Thank you for all your inspirational comments. Well done.

Andrea & Hannah
Jun 17, 2012 12:36pm [ 49 ]

My daughter and I started the program today. I am 37 and she is the ripe old age of twelve : ). Over the past three years I have lost 40 lbs. I hate to say in the past year I went from being able to jog 2 miles as a good work out to nothing. I have also gained back 20 lbs. I am not and never will be a yo-to dieter. I believe on eating healthy and regular exercise. Long story short, I would have stopped without the encouragement of my beautiful daughter! I hope this is the beginning of good things.

Jul 20, 2012 9:40pm [ 50 ]

I like being active, but always hated running. I bought this app, and I love it....I am half way thru..starting my 4th week!!I always end up wanting to run more...its amazing...I highly recommend it.

Jul 21, 2012 4:23am [ 51 ]

Hi, I've only just started this program. I've been a couch potato for nearly 7 years and just recently wanted to get back in shape. Unfortunately, the pounds I've gained have made me susceptible to injury. Getting back in shape has been excruciating and the programs I've tried haven't really helped in the pain department. I discovered this program through my partner (in the form of an iPhone app!). It's been incredible so far. This but the C25K is pain-free and satisfying, and by extension, tremendous fun. As others have said, I always end up wanting to run more. I'd recommend it to anyone!

Jul 30, 2012 11:19am [ 52 ]

I am a woman and 58. In October 2011 I donated a kidny to my 22 month old grandson. Just before sugery, I trained to get fit, but I haven't done much after. Unfortunately I couldn't get started. My daugther recommended K5 and I have started and aime to keep going so I can take a run with her in the authum. The program is good for one who hasn't done any exercise for a long time and someone my age........

Aug 4, 2012 2:52am [ 53 ]

Wow, reading all of these comments has really been inspiring. I am 22 years old and 200 pounds.I had considered starting this program about a year ago but then blew it off. Now, I want to do it. Normally, I would say I want to "try" to do it, but that is not how it works. I am going to do it, even if I have to repeat every week. Thank you all for your inspirational comments. I can't wait to be a runner!

Oct 20, 2012 5:51pm [ 54 ]

Downloaded app - check, did nothing for 2 days - check, found a million and one excuses - check....

I found this site this morning, read half way through the comments and put on my running shoes. Just got back from the first one and it was embarrassingly hard but what do you expect from an obese, ex smoker (of 11 years). I have tried running before but always over do it, end up with shin splints and sore hips but I feel good today, energised and motivated. Can't wait for the first week to be up so I can see progress.

I will be a runner!!

Nov 3, 2012 6:40pm [ 55 ]

I've never been a runner at all. Played goalie in soccer so I got out of running. Pitched in baseball so I got of running. My wife and I have used couch to 5k and have just completed our second 5k race. When we started this app day one, we couldnt run a minute straight without getting winded. I finished in under 30 minutes and my wife under 35 minutes. We have now moved onto the 5k-10k app( same as the c25k) and will be competing our first 10k on Nov. 17th. Then after that, we'll train for the half marathon. If we can do couch to 5k, then 10k, and now half marathon, ANYONE can do it. And I do mean anyone!!

Cary Davila
Dec 15, 2012 9:06am [ 56 ]

I Truly LOVE this program..It has made me Love Jogging because I am yet a runner but will be. I am not yet into the 9th week and already jogging a 5k..I am SOO Siked and Excited at how far I have come in such short time..Thank You from the bottom of my Heart for comming up with This method/plan to help us x- couch potatoes become joggers and future runners....I am Jogging the ING on Jan 27,2013 here in Miami and look foward to applying all I have learned....Lots of Energy from Miami...Cary Davila

Avis Crosby
Jan 21, 2013 11:39am [ 57 ]

I love the podcasts and I run on my treadmill. I am 62 years old and overweight along with having rheumatoid arthritis but I am currently in remission and trying to get some strength back into my muscles. Also I live in Northern Minnesota so running outside is very limited for many months.

I might never run a marathon but it doesn't matter to me. I might be stuck on week 1 and 2 forever but the point is that I can do this. Right now I do week 1 and 2 back to back to get a great aerobic exercise and I do so on a treadmill to cushion my knees compared to running on cement.

Thank you for you podcasts and helping people everywhere.

Jan 30, 2013 9:16pm [ 58 ]

I always wanted to run but never thought I could. 36 yo female who has been obese all of adolescence and adulthood. Started c25k in august. First 5k race was in Oct., did a five miler in November and now I am training for a half marathon in May. I have 5 or so more lbs to go before I am no longer obese. Lowered my cholesterol, ELIMINATED my depression and anxiety that I have lived with for years- no more meds!! Running has given me a confidence I have never had before. I joined a running group and one of my running buddies said to me last night: "I'd like to meet the guy who developed c25k,, I'd be like, dude, you changed my f@cking life.". DITTO! THANK YOU!!!

Susan Dobbs
Feb 11, 2013 8:03am [ 59 ]

I have been looking for a program to get me excited about fitness. This sound like it could work. Thanks for all of the positive feedback and success stories!

Feb 12, 2013 4:16pm [ 60 ]

I'm turning 50 in just over 7 months. I'm about 40# overweight, on blood pressure and cholesterol meds, and definitely personify the 'couch' part of the C25K program. I've always avoided running with the normal excuses... bad knees, too fat, too hard, no fun.

I find 2 obstacles to exercising: First is getting started (overcoming the inertia of the couch is somewhat daunting). The second is even worse... sticking with it. I usually do too much too fast, every day, no rest, get discouraged, and return to the couch.

I just finished W1D1 and am very excited (treadmill version). W1D1 is doable. It's also well paced... not too much too quickly (my worst downfall). Best of all it felt GOOD.

As I build up strength and endurance, I'll take it out to the great outdoors, but never thought 30 minutes on a treadmill could ever be fun.

I want to be off BP & cholesterol meds by the time I'm 50... thanks for the hope and encouragement that C25K offers!

May 20, 2013 10:28pm [ 61 ]

Hi there everyone. Your comments are so inspiring. I'm 58 and in couch potato shape. I tried this program quite awhile ago, but it went too quickly for me --i've never run in my life, used to swim a lot which is very different---and I started to get bad shin splints and my knees began to hurt once I was in Week 3-4. . So I gave it up. Now with summer here I'm determined to improve my fitness. I've spent the last 18 months eating a whole food plant based diet after seeing the movie Forks Over Knives and reading the book Engine 2 Diet, doing its 28 Day Challenge --I've never looked back from this profound change in how I eat. ( fb page and websites of both these are great as well) - I lost 40 lbs pretty easily, and am back to college weight. I love the abundant amount of delicious food I can eat, and feel so much better. My doc was blown away by the results and tells me its the best thing I can be doing for my health. She has now taken me off medications when my cholesterol came way down from diet alone, and my blood pressure improved, but has been after me to get good weight bearing exercise for my osteoporosis. off meds is a little high unless I get a lot of exercise. So I'm ready for the last piece of my health puzzle and started Week 1 today. This time I'm going to take it much more SLOWLY even if it takes me many months to complete. So today I started out with just 30 sec. slow jogs and 2 min. walks. When I can do that comfortably, I'll do Week 1 as written, then move on to Week 2 and work Into it. I'm determined to succeed this time around.

Sep 8, 2013 7:54am [ 62 ]

New sue. I started 2 weeks ago. At 60 I decided to reinvent myself. I lost some weight and a tummy tuck was the start. But when i went to the doctor I was told I was diabetic and had high cholesterol. I was devastated. Right then I determined not to couch-out of life. I had the surgery and 4 weeks later start on the tredmill walking. At 6 weeks I started C25K. 2 weeks now and although I am not losing a lot of weight things are tightening up. I drop one size and have a ton more energy. I see myself running forever. Old age wont catch this girl.

Feb 28, 2014 1:06am [ 63 ]

I never in a million years thought I would call myself a runner, but here I am! :-) From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for designing Couch to 5K. I love it! It is my go-to primer whenever I need a fresh start. Some of my friends have even tried it after me. They like it, too!

marco lenzi
Apr 10, 2014 6:29pm [ 64 ]

Thank you from Italy! Today I've finished the program and I have to say it is and it has been really great! For me it has been a great success and now I feel like going on with running and go for 10K.


May 1, 2014 2:49pm [ 65 ]

I am 53 years old and just finished C25K. My problem is I am SOOO slow! I can jog the whole 3.1 without stopping if I go at a 4.7. I can jog the whole 3.1 at 5.0 if I take one or two minute walk breaks. I'm not sure what I should do increase my speed? Should I just keep running a few more weeks at 4.7, until It's "easier" to run the 5K, and then speed up? Or just go faster and walk for a minute when I need to? (When I jog faster, and walk for 1-2 minutes, I can do a 5k in 38-39. When I jog straight, it's 40-40:30). Anyone else who was as slow as me, but was able to improve time??? Thanks.

Jun 6, 2014 5:55am [ 66 ]

I am nearly 47 and have never been sporty, never been able to run. I have just completed week 3 but still finding it hard work. I am going to attempt week 4 day 1 tomorrow morning but I really cant see how I could run more than 3 minutes, I struggled to do that! Has anyone else felt really daunted by week 4 and then found that that they could do it? I really would value some encouragement, I don't want to fail :-( P.S. I am so proud of what I've managed so far anyway and all your stories are amazing and inspiring. So glad I found this site!!!!

Jun 7, 2014 12:19pm [ 67 ]

I did it :-)

Jun 28, 2014 1:12pm [ 68 ]

At almost 57, with a bunch of physical problems, I was introduced to c25k by someone I work with (bless you Aggie!). She went from couch potato to marathon maniac (3 marathons in 90 days)in 13 months by starting with this program! I'm sure that I won't ever do that-I just want to get fit. Well, I just finished W3 using my elliptical and the timed version. I'm so thankful because every session I do a little better. I'm confident that I can continue to the end and beyond. It's just like when I decided to read the Bible through in a year-the program is making all the difference!

Thanks for the encouragement, Joy. I, too was feeling a bit intimidated by the prospect of Week 4. Now I'm ready to go!

Manuel Blum
Aug 2, 2014 1:50pm [ 69 ]

I am 76 years old. I smoked from ages 25 to 50 and then stopped. I have always done some exercise and at one point after I stopped smoking, I started running (slowly). From short jogs, I built up to a half marathon in two hours. At some point, when I was 60 years old, running suddenly got really hard for me. I had my heart checked and on that account had a quad bypass. 15 years later, that's two days ago, I started this program. The first day was a real killer: very VERY hard. When I finished, I was exhausted. Kaput. Today, two days later, I tried again and this time the walk jog went beautifully. I did not feel like I was dying. On the contrary, I felt really good after this second workout. I'm looking forward to continuing ...

Julie C.
Aug 23, 2014 2:07am [ 70 ]

I'm 49 & hoping to get fit by 50. I was doing really well on a health program, lost 20lbs & began this C25K program. I made it thru' W4. As soon as I peeked ahead to what is as in store for W5 I bailed. I allows fear & how I was struggling thru' W4 derail the success I had just completing the 1st month. Unfortunately I kinda backslid on the health program too. This has been my pattern over the years & a few programs later...I lose about 20+ lbs & quit. I get burned out. I refuse to follow that pattern again! This time I've only put back on about 8lbs & I am going to break this pattern! I am starting C25K again & I am going to conquer & win. I am so encouraged to see what others have accomplished & I know I can do this! I really believe C25K is a great program & looking back I'm amazed at how far I came in just 4 weeks. I'm determined to go there & beyond this time around! :)

Theresa Samson
Dec 21, 2014 12:23am [ 71 ]

How do I get started?

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