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Running Too Slowly

by Lisa

Hello, a few months ago I started the Couch to 5K program. I'm getting very discouraged because I run so slowly -- it takes me about 14 minutes to run a mile.

I am up to running about 2.25 miles three times a week, but I feel like I'm moving at a glacial pace.

I also feel like, after three months, I should be up to 3 miles.

I'm a 49-year-old woman who is about 40 lbs. overweight.

Any suggestions/guidance would be helpful.
Thank you.

running tips
Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thank you for your question and sharing your concerns about running too slowly or not far enough.

Let's start with the positives: you are running three times a week and you can already cover 2.25 miles.

Off-the-shelf running programs like a C25k program you picked up somewhere can be useful as they give you a starting point.

However, to not over-complicate things what usually does not get mentioned is that everybody has got their own starting pace. For some the running program will be too easy and for some the running program will be too hard.

It is a bit discouraging when the program says you need to do 3 miles non-stop and you are not ready for it yet.

However, it's not necessarily your fault, the program may just be a bit too difficult for you to start off with. Everybody starts running at a different starting point due to exercise they have or have not done in the past, the weight they carry with them, etc.

So, don't beat yourself up about your pace and/or the distance you are currently covering. You will be able to increase the distance you run and improve your running pace by following some of these running tips:

Use a run/walk approach to increase the distance
My beginner running programs are built on the foundation that everybody can start running, no matter their starting point. With these running programs, again, they are generic and may be too easy for some and too difficult for others.

However, I have had very positive responses to the programs as they have helped many people ease into running. The key to a successful start to running is build up slowly and do run/walks.

Instead of doing 2.25 miles straight out, why don't you try doing 6 x 0.4 miles running with a minute or two of walking in between. I bet you'll be able to cover that distance. It will make you do 2.4 miles.

Then build from there. Next time do 5 x 0.5 miles and so on. Build it up slowly until you do 3 miles, then reduce the walking in between. Before you know it you will be covering 3 miles and more.

Lose weight to improve the pace
Nothing will make you go faster than carrying around less weight. Just holding a 40 lbs dumbbell is too much for many. You carry that extra weight with you with every step you take, which just makes it tougher. I know it is a bit of an easy thing to say: "just lose weight".

In the end it comes down to what you eat and drink and the amount of exercise you do. You are already working well on the exercise and with use of the advice above I am quite confident you will be able to start running further and, because of that, burn more calories.

However, if you are not already doing this, I would also advise to have a critical look at your diet. Use an online calorie counter for a while ( is good) in order to establish what you eat and where you can make improvements.

When you are not able to run that far yet some other cardio like walking, swimming or bike riding, in addition to your running, will be of much help. It will help you build your stamina, lose some fat, create some muscle and burn more calories.

I think cross training for runners is very important in order to stay healthy, injury-free and achieve overall fitness.

Hope this helps.
Don't get discouraged, you'll get there, keep up the good work.
Kind regards,

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