Can anyone run a 5K?

beginner runner c25k new runner Aug 21, 2023
Run a 5K

Why can there be such a stumbling block when it comes to achieving the elusive 5K?

Have you always wanted to run a 5k but found it too much to take on? Perhaps you have downloaded the app, but got unraveled halfway through? (that’s common btw).

Did you know that during the pandemic during the first lockdown, more than 858,000 people downloaded the C25K app in the UK between March and the end of June? That’s a whopping 92% increase in the same period the year before!  Every year, The London Marathon continues to see an increase in the number of people signing up to do the race and battle it out for a ballot place. Running it would seem, is as popular as ever.

But why does getting to 5K seem so hard? 

First of all, if you have fallen off the 5K wagon, know that you are not a failure.  There are many reasons why it's so hard to finish a 5K programme - especially if the only experience you have had is through the C25K app.  

It's great that the app is free and it works for a lot of people, but there can be massive metaphorical walls along the way, and in our opinion, it doesn’t suit everyone. It’s so easy to decide that running isn’t for you when you don’t complete the plan in just nine weeks!

So where does the original plan fall down for some runners?

It’s just Running!

Running three times a week is perfectly acceptable for a new runner. However, three runs with no other activity thrown in may not see you progress as quickly as the app would like you to.

When you come to the stage in the plan that you see a sudden increase in time running, it can be a bit of a shock to the system! Up to this point, you have been putting in your three sessions a week and now you’re expected to run non-stop for 22 minutes and you’re only in Week 5! That's a tough ask.

What isn’t included in the plan is a day of ‘Active Rest’, Strength & Conditioning, or any Stretch & Mobility sessions.  These aspects of training are vital for helping newbie runners keep injuries at bay. Shin splints, IT band syndrome, and plantar fasciitis are common in new runners and it could be down to only running - and possibly too much, too soon. 

When you’re brand new to running and exercise in general, it is a lot of ask of your body to suddenly start hitting the pavement.  Beginner runners generally don’t have the strength in their legs for the demands of running so including these sessions each week will be a huge benefit and will help you run a 5K.

Another reason why new runners get into hot water quickly is enthusiasm!  It can come as a surprise how good running makes them feel and they want to do it more.  As your cardiovascular system starts to adapt to your new hobby, you will feel like you want to push harder sooner. The trouble is, our muscles take a little longer to adapt to these new changes and that's where those pains in the shins, calves, and knees come in. Your heart and lungs might have adapted, but your legs aren't there yet.  Trust the process. 

Running out of time

You should get your 5k completed in 30 minutes according to the app. This has become a huge pressure point for many and it’s simply not necessary.  Running should be done for time with repeats of walking and running until the 5k is achieved. The goal is to eventually do the 5k constantly running, but in however long it takes.  The pace will come… you are a winner whatever time you complete it.

What do you need to know?

The world of running can be such an overwhelming place for the newbie runner. Trying to suss things out for yourself can be time-consuming and confusing.  Magazines are full of information and much of it doesn’t feel like it will ever relate to you right now.  Plus all the buzzwords can be so confusing.  Cadence, splits, bonking, jeffing.  What on earth does all this mean?  You might want to check out our A-Z of running to find out! 

When you start running, you want to know what you need to wear, what you need to eat, how fast, how far, warm up, cool down, and how to stop getting injured. There is so much information out there from many different sources – where do you even start?  This doesn't come with the app.  You will find lots of help online, but this could just be the opinion of a random runner who only knows about going as fast as they can and does not consider your journey. 

Going it alone

There is also the element of mutual support that you often don't get when you follow an app. Do you find your nearest and dearest don’t always understand what you are going through? They don’t see the significance behind your five minutes of non-stop running.  When you post your achievements on social media, you won’t always get the kind of response that’ll keep you motivated.  Joining a like-minded community will have your biggest cheerleaders ready to celebrate and will totally understand your running wins and woes.

Can we help?

Our mission at Start Running Stay Running is to help everyone succeed in getting that 5k milestone.  Running a whole 3.1 miles is an incredible achievement, which will undoubtedly spur you onto a lifelong relationship with running.

Fancy a freebie?

We have a free download for you right here... '5 Steps to 5K Success'.  This is a great place to start if you are about to lace up and get out there!  Grab our guide HERE! 


Introducing ‘5K My Way’

We were delighted to launch our first cohort of 5K My Way in October for those wanting to get to 5K with the extra support from a team of coaches and fellow runners all running alongside you virtually. First run as an online course, we are taking this LIVE, working with a cohort in real-time online. With weekly educational modules, a weekly group call with our run coaches, an exclusive Facebook group to keep each other motivated and accountable plus a beautiful medal on your 5K graduation day!

And guess what? Our eight-week programme to help every runner get to their 5K starts again in January! There are no time limits on how long it takes to run your 5K – that’s not important.  You are running 3.1 miles which is a huge achievement.  

Click on our smiley faces below to find out more! 


If we can be of any further help, please reach out to us on socials or at [email protected].

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