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Couch to 5K
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It's not all in the mind - sometimes!

I know I've said this before, and I know I'm a bit of a lone voice in putting forward this view, but sometimes when our body tells us to stop, we should listen!

I think the ability to recognise when we would be better to go slower, or shorter, rather than faster or longer, is something we develop as we become more experienced runners.

Case in point. On Monday I set off to run a slow 10 km, but gave up and walked home after 8 km. Why? Because my calves were aching and I was too hot. The over-heating was due to starting at 10.30am, but I needed my sleep after only 4-hours kip the previous night. The aching calves were from dancing at a music festival for several hours on Saturday night. :-)

I suppose I could have pushed myself harder, but I think I know my body (and my 'runner's body') after one years of running, to know when to listen. I'm currently building up my distance again following the second injury in 6 months, so feel I'm wise to ca canny with my knees and leg muscles. Plus I'm currently cycling a total of 96 miles per week for my commute (30 miles round trip some days, 15 others) and this leaves me physically tired.

I read somewhere that we should 'Sleep one extra minute per night for each mile per week that you train' and am wondering how this translates in terms of miles cycled.

Today I tried again to run 10km and again after 8 km I felt like stopping, But today my thoughts of "My calf is aching" was more just a general moan to myself - not a genuine injury! ;-) So I gave myself a good talking to and as I emerged from the woods onto the road, not only did I make myself complete the the remaining 2km, but I increased my pace. 10km done in 64 mins. Not fast; but I always perform better in cold, not heat and am not even going to try running fast in the current warm weather.

8 Replies

Hi swanscot,

Yes you have a very valid point there. It must be a very fine line between 'I don't really want to ---' and 'I really should not ---'. It is knowledge that we can only gain through our personal experiences and learn to recognize the difference.

However I also feel that we are capable of far more than we give our body credit for and should try to push ourselves - as long as we do it sensibly and be aware of our bodies!

And we must all be conscious of the additional stresses that this heat places upon us and not risk overheating.


I think there's 'good pushing' and 'bad pushing', but you need quite a bit of experience and a lot of sense to draw that fine line.

This from someone who bad-pushed herself onto the injury bench for weeks - AFTER graduation... won't make that mistake again!



Absolutely right. I'm definitely in the "more than you thbk you can" camp, BUT it has to be tempered by what's physically or realistically achievable. If you're totally knackered, a positive attitude won't help in the least. But if, as in your second stint, it's just that chimp sitting on your shoulder telling you to give up, just put the chimp back in its cage and get on with doing more than you though you could.

As always, there is no absolute truth ... everything depends upon context.


Hi Swanscot, I agree 100% if we all listened to our bodies more I think we would have less injuries. I set off on Monday for the first run in 22 days. I was running a 5K route but knew as I came to a cross roads that I needed to cut it short. It was later in the day than I usually run, I hadn't run for 3 weeks and it was hot. 4K run, no nasty injuries and didn't over heat. There have been many times when that little demon has sat on my shoulder and got me thinking, 'I can't do any more' but I've taken stock, checked out my body, bit by bit, found nothing wrong and said 'Get off my shoulder I'm not giving you a free ride' and carried on. There's no shame in not completing a run, its sometimes sensible. :)

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As usual the truth is somewhere in-between -- or maybe there is more than one truth. Reminds me of being told off by my Italian mother-law's sister (at the time cosultant in pediatrics) for feeding Jessica (age 1) peas. She was shocked and horrified and said she would be extremely ill. Of course she wasn't and grew up to be the strapping lass she is today. Just like Italians who come to the UK and are shocked that we don't have shutters on our windows.

Back to running. Yes listen to your body. It knows best. Sometimes. In good humour, Delia


Totally agree, there is definitely a fine line, it just a shame that occasionally we push on and get injuries.


Totally agree. I hate not completing a run and have had to push myself more than usual in the hot weather. However there have been a couple of times when I have had to stop. My body just wouldn't let me continue. I was gutted but knew it was the right thing to do. Have continued in the past and ended up injured instead of listening to niggles and aches.

It's true there are days when I have to be firm with myself when I'm just making excuses. It's working out when it's your body is talking or if it's just that part of your brain which would much prefer to be on the couch eating chocolate!

Viki :-)


I totally agree...there is a balance and we need to listen to our bodies and read the cues.... flipping heck you are amazing doing all that cycling...and as for your running...wow thats really really good. you need a pat on the back and a high five...well done xx


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