Couch to 5K

How much of this is psychological?

Every time I look ahead to how much running I'll be doing in the next week of the programme, I am filled with dread. Having just completed week 3, the idea of running for 5 full minutes in week 4 terrified me. But, to my surprise ,when I went out last night to "just give it a try", I could actually do it! Not without nearly passing out, but still ;-)

I have felt this way about every "next week" I have encountered so far and yet every time I have managed to complete the week without incident.

This leads me to ask, how much of learning to run is mental/psychological? I still cannot imagine running for 25 minutes non stop.

Does anyone have any mental/mind tricks they use to get them through a session?

9 Replies


Honestly I think 90% of it is psychological, I am two years down the road now (probably about time I turned for home I am really late for my dinner :-D ) and it still can be a challenge.

My "trick", such as it is, is to swear copiously at myself - I am the local tourettes bloke in wicking gear!

But really I think the more you do the bigger an armoury you build up of little anecdotes of your own to remind yourself that it was OK last time and more importantly when you have a bad day (and you will, or at least I still do) that it is just a day and it comes back to you and not an indicator necessarily that you can't do it.

But already you are inding this out for yourself which is the best way right?

Keep on trucking 8)


I was sitting drinking a coffee in the cafe at my gym this morning and checking the site, I burst out laughing when I read your reply Greg - I am the local tourettes bloke in wicking gear! What a picture that conjured up in my mind. But I'm sure many of us do the same, especially when the demon monkey is sitting on our shoulders. ;)


Yes, a lot of it is psychological. You have to give your head a good old talking to some days!

I feel it is not a good idea to look too far ahead as you will scare yourself and knock your confidence. Just take each run as it comes and trust that Laura has built you up to it. As long as you have done all the previous sessions you will probably be pleasantly surprised when you go up a week - and succeed!

If you find it a struggle as you progress all you do is drop back a bit on your speed and you'll manage it. Do not stress over this programme, it really does work. Enjoy yourself and all you achieve!



The fundamental limit is physical not psychological. However if you have never run before you probably don't know where your physical limits are yet! Most especially there's a warm-up period in which it's very difficult to keep running, then a tipping point afterwards where it becomes much easier. A lot of people never get over the warm-up period and assume they can never run more than a minute or two. C25K is great at gently easing people through it.


Gosh how this has inspired me to keep going. I have had a nagging memory at the back of my mind from several years ago when I really pushed myself whilst on a bike at the gym, thought I could do no more, when suddenly it seemed to get easier and easier until I actually didnt want to stop, just hoping my running will be like that too, hasnt so far but guess I give up too easily, just needed reminding that this can happen so THANK YOU


I had a friend to be the voice of reason for me in the early weeks when I was full of doubt that I'd be able to manage each fresh challenge - between her encouragement and the fact that I kept on managing, I got through and learned not to trust the voice that said I couldn't do this.

Now, I still have plenty of times when my head is saying 'this is too hard - just stop now' - but since it tends to start up within about 30 seconds of me starting running, I try to ignore it. One of my things is to actually think about why I want to stop: are my legs hurting? do my feet feel OK? am I breathing properly? Almost every time, the answer is that physically I'm fine, it's a psychological issue. For some reason I find the gremlins harder to shake off when I'm running outdoors - maybe because it is so much more physically tiring. But when I need to just keep going I count my breaths. Five minutes is around 85 breaths, so I aim for that (and do lots of mental maths working out the percentages of how far through I am at various points...). When I've got to 85, I might aim for 100. Or start afresh with each new track on the podcast/playlist. Anything to distract me from the distance to go!


Everything to do with psychology! I first attempted this 6 months ago and failed! Looking back I started thinking that I couldn't complete it so its not really a surprise that I didn't! This time round I know I can! I use my time during running to repeat positive mantras and understand that with every run I complete, that despite it being difficult and sometimes bloody painful! I am achieving my goals


I'm on week 7 now, so 25 mins non-stop each run. 7 weeks ago, I couldn't imagine running for 3 minutes, let alone 25! In fact I struggled with 1! But here I am now managing to get through it without giving up or passing out. I think it is mostly a psychological thing, and the more you do the more you realise you're able to do (if that makes sense). As long as you don't ignore any physical pain, you don't want to injure yourself, you may be surprised how far beyond your imagination your limits stretch.


Thank you everyone, you have confirmed my suspicions: that it's mostly in my head! So far every run has gone off without a hitch, it's just the devil on my shoulder beforehand telling me that I might not be able to do it.

Once I get into it though and settle into a rhythm, especially on the longer runs, I can manage without aches and pains. I even start to enjoy it a little, but don't tell anyone ;-)


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