How do you beat the mental barrier

I'm getting so frustrated with myself, I'm finding at present that I will do a podcast and find it so difficult and want to give up, yet as soon as I finish I find I'm absolutely fine and hardly out of breath. I feel I'm not pushing myself far enough due to my belief I can't go further rather than a physical limitation. Has anyone conquered this mental barrier yet if so at which point I've completed week 4 5 times.

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13 Replies

  • Hi Jcfirework, round about the middle of the programme there certainly seem to be lots of frustrations. I went though blaming my leaden legs, blaming my lousy breathing, blaming the weather, you name it - I blamed it, because try as I might I couldn't crack those darned runs! Then loads of lovely people on here assured me it was all about 'mind-over-matter' because my body had coped with everything I had chucked at it so far. Some other brilliant advice came from Greenlegs ... Take things slowly and steadily .... If you start to lose control of the breathing or the legs feel like ton weights, go even slower. Honestly, it works! You've done the earlier weeks, your limbs and muscles are ready for this. There's absolutely nobody to race against, just settle into a gentle and controlled jog (it might even be slower than other walkers) and listen to the music, watch the countryside and think about the treats you will have when you calmly finish this run!

    Relax and enjoy, Linda :)

  • This is probably a bit of an unconventional solution, but it's what worked for me.

    I found out by accident that a five minute walk wasn't enough of a warm up for me. Each new week was gruelling and unpleasant, and it was taking me weeks and weeks to get through each week's podcast. I just kept repeating them until it felt like they weren't killing me.

    I'm aiming to burn calories and build up endurance, and I was walking for an hour or so with a c25k podcast in the middle. When walking became too easy, I started doing two podcasts in one session.

    I found that starting with last week's or the week before's podcast as a warm up made this week's run so much easier! It was a huge difference and I started sailing through the program.

    Short answer: try warming up more intensely and for longer. It could be a physical thing more than a mental one.

  • Week 4 5 times! Wow! You are definitely ready for Week 5! My tip would be to keep your mind off the actual act of running and think about other things instead. I like to plan my shopping list, organise my weekend, think about what I need to do at work tomorrow, plan an outfit... Anything except running!

    You absolutely can do it. Take it slow and steady and think about nice things!

    Go for it!

  • Thanks for your replies week 5 tomorrow it is x

  • I once heard a Radio 4 programme where the speaker was talking about the "chimp on our shoulder". The little voice that keeps knocking us and saying we can't do whatever .. wouldn't it be best just to give up". The advice was just to put the chimp back in its cage and get on with doing much more than you think you can! I adopted the idea, and it worked. Not always easy,but if I was tempted to stop I'd do a check of my 'systems'. Legs tired? No.. Any chest pain? No. Struggling for breath? No. So there's nothing actually wrong, is there? No. Right - get back in your cage.

    It seems daft, but it worked for me. Eventually your brain gets to know what you're up to and is assured that you can actually do it. That's when the chimp stays in its cage, hopefully for good.

    Having said that, I still struggle to get started - every time. The first 4/5 minutes are ALWAYS tough. But I know to expect it, and instead of the chimp nipping my ear, a different voice tells me not to be silly - it'll be fine.

    That's my suggestion. It worked really well for me and I hope it helps you too.

  • I find this too, the first 5 minutes are difficult, then I settle into a rhythm. My OH, who I'm sure thinks I'm some chimp experiment, since I started running, made me wear his running watch today. It was quite interesting when he looked at the data, he said I run quicker in the first five minutes, probably because I'm on fresh legs, but it doesn't feel any quicker to me, so I must be working myself a bit harder then. I always try to take it steady, but I'm obviously not, funny how the mind works in relation to the body.

  • My husband and I had a conversation about this today, funny enough.

    I take the same attitude as Maria, I try not to think of anything at all, until Laura says 1 minute to go or I think about other things like what songs I will have when I can run for 30 mins continuous. Or I just concentrate on not thinking, but making my breathing and steps even and steady. Or I concentrate on Laura's tips, like is my head bobbing up and down too much? Hahaha.

    My husband was saying, he gives himself little challenges. Like, he counts his steps or he picks a point further along when he's flagging, and tricks his mind into thinking, I'll just get to the next gate and then well I can probably make it to the end of the field etc etc.

    I guess it's just a matter of finding what works for you, but maybe you could try some of these things.

  • Can I repeat the marvellous phrase someone used on here recently? "I don't really like running. What I like is having run". Concentrate on how you will feel after the run, having done it, what you will write on here to tell us about it afterwards. Think about anything and everything apart from the run as you are doing it. And go really really slowly. Think of it as "How slowly can I go but still call it jogging?". At that sort of pace you should be able to get to the end, and possibly get a bit faster as you know the end is coming up, if you're still got some reserves. It is ALWAYS the mental block that's the hardest part for me. I think that's why I like the podcasts so much, because Laura drowns out my silly negative thoughts of "I'm not going to make this. I'll stop in a minute" when as you say, we're not even really tired out, and perfectly able to recover within a few seconds of stopping. Good luck - let us know how you get on!

  • I'm finding these tips very useful thank you. I'm in week 5 now and have the big run later in the week.

    I got so far through this program last year and know that I've done it once so surely I can do it again. I just still have this trepidation at the thought of 20 continuous minutes and if I'm ready...

  • All these comments have been really great and inspiring, especially loving the idea of a pet chimp to think about lol I really do need to beat this as there is no physical reason why I can't.

  • Hezzabelle - remember it's not 20 minutes, it's 4 lots of 5 minutes. That made all the difference to me ;-)

  • The mental thing is huge for me too - I like what was said above about not enjoying the run but enjoying the feeling of having run! This is what I say to myself. I literally talk to myself in my head the whole run, if I didn't then I know I wouldn't complete it.

    Some excerpts of my "self talk" - "The pain now is much less than the pain of not completing it!" "If I can do the first 5 mins, I can do the next 5 mins" "I'm already halfway through so I know I can definitely complete the run" "Just to the next bend and then this section is almost done" or even just counting in my head, planning things, and even focusing on breathing really steadily. I am really really careful not to let the negatives get in, even though my legs are definitely telling me to think negative!

    Maybe you also need to just finish with week 4 and move on? Maybe it's the fact that you've stuck to it for so long that isn't showing you how much you can do. I am scared every week but it reinforces the fact that I CAN do it and the program and progression really works.

  • Woohoo week 5 run 1 completed. You all really helped and in fact I found this run easier than any of my week 4 runs. I even saw the chimp he was playing happily on the rugby pitch in front of me but I didnt even need to threaten him with the cage today. I feel so pleased with myself :-)

    Thank you x

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