How to get through that mental barrier???

So its been a few weeks since i've graduated and I'm still just doing my own thing, just slowly but surely trying to get used to running and get a better time.

I don't seem to be improving time wise significantly but that obviously isn't going to happen over night. However I thought at some point that it would start to get 'easier'..... I mean I do my warm up and right away I feel uncomfortable and ugh. Eventually it goes away and I start to think about other things and then after a mile or so (I'm averaging 15 min/mile so quite slow!) I find that I can't breath everything hurts etc etc. Most of the time I seem to get through it but for the past couple of runs I find myself not being able to do it.

Yesterdays run for example I just simply gave up after 1.5 miles and I walked home. I then started to cry because I'd let myself down and running was meant to help with my depression not make it worse. I could have run the extra 7 mins and done at least a basic 30 min run but my head was telling me couldn't so I just stopped.

Whilst I was walking home I was finding myself telling myself that I was rubbish at this and what was the point etc etc.

I see you all doing so well after your graduation, and I don't seem to be improving at all!!! Its not getting easier, I still can't breath properly and I generally feel like crap. I want to run longer/faster distances but I just cannot seem to get it done.

Any advice for a beginner runner still feeling very sorry for themselves? I'm just not sure what to do next.....


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26 Replies

  • Like you I have only been running for a short time. First of all congratulations on getting this far. Keep reminding yourself that you have achieved so much by getting out there and running. Not every day will be easy. Take a step back and break down the runs. If you find that after 10 minutes you are really struggling slow down and walk, once you get your breath back tackle another run. Basically something similar to week 5. Then slowly you will be able to increase distance and pace. From what I understand the aim of c25k is to get people out running not setting distance and world records for time. For example today I struggled after about 15mins, so walked for about 5 then set off again. OK my time was slow and did not get anything near to my best distance achieved, but I did something I could not have done 6 months ago. Good luck with the next run!

  • I have similar feelings sometimes. After I graduated I had a plan of consolidation rather than trying to go for faster times and longer distances, but it isn't getting any easier - most of the time. Occasionally I have a 'good' run, and then everything feels fabulous, but mostly it's just a slog. I've had some success over the last couple of weeks by running to a specific number of beats per minute (the stamina podcast was ok, the stepping stone one was too slow for my running style). Yesterday I had a terrible run and have been feeling sore and exhausted since. Perhaps you need to slow down a bit and built up stamina for a few weeks - perhaps now you've graduated you are starting off too fast and wearing yourself out. Maybe try starting slow, then increasing your bpm like Laura got me to do on the stamina? I'm not an expert though. Do you keep any stats? I never used to, but I started taking map my run out with me just every now and then - if you only do that every couple of weeks or so, you can really see an improvement, if that's what you're looking for. Just remember that only a few months ago you were glued to the sofa! Any running is better than none!

  • Don't beat yourself up - it IS hard! I found the couple of months after graduating the hardest of all. There was no more program to follow and personally, without that, I really was a bit lost. You are not rubbish just because you have a bad day - we ALL have those. What you have to set your mind to thinking is that this really, really doesn't matter! Try doing a different type of run - far at least one run a week, run intervals (Speed on the 5k+ us an interval run). If nothing else, this will get you used to stopping and starting again, so the next time you stop on a long run, pretend it's an interval, walk for a minute, then run again. Devote a couple of runs to just getting your breathing right - try to match it to your footfalls (doesn't matter if it's 2 steps in and 2 out, or 3 or 4 - experiment and find what works for you). Going out with the intention of NOT running for 30 mins can be quite liberating - and you are still out there getting a run. Bizarrely, you will find adopting a run/walk combination will make you go quicker. Lastly, set yourself a new challenge - sign up for a fun run so you have a target to aim for again. Celebrate how far you have come. You are a runner - if you weren't, you wouldn't care.

  • I think many of us can relate to how you felt. We all have days when it goes really well and our confidence soars, then the next run is total rubbish! The way I've come to look at it is to just accept it. Don't try to rationalise it, it just happens. Take the positive out of it - at least you've run some distance which is doing you good mentally and physically - any run is better than no run, right? Maybe it's your body's way of telling you that you are capable of doing it but not to get over-enthusiastic and overdo it and injure yourself!

    I also agree with jadaromi. If you stop, it is not the end of the world, there is NOTHING WRONG with stopping and re-grouping. My thought always was (and still is!) well, I've got to walk home so I might as well jog at least part of the way. Quite often, my second go was much better than the first and I ran easier and longer!

    Every run is increasing your stamina and strength although it might not feel like it. I've not been running as regularly lately for many reasons, and I've found it really tough to even complete a 30 min run when previously I was doing 45-55 with relative ease. I just tell myself it doesn't matter, it will come if I just keep going out. I'm not in competition with anyone, not even myself at the moment. The other week I had to stop twice and I got slower with each run but today I did 45mins at a steady pace - it still felt like hard work but I was able to do it!

    Just be kind to yourself. Don't be in a hurry to speed up/run further. Let your body adjust to all the new things you're asking of it and give it time to catch up. It's a very gradual process but you will begin to notice the extra few minutes/metres you've added.

    Don't get downhearted, you are doing brilliantly!

  • I sympathise with you all the way. I graduated a couple of weeks ago and seem to have gone to pot since. I'm doing a 5K on Sunday and all my recent runs have ended in tears. I can't run for 30 mins any more I can't run 3k let alone 5k without a walk I can't get my breathing right etc etc . I too run to beat the black dog of depression and have come to the conclusion that when I finished C25k I was lost without Laura and maybe thought"oh I'm now a runner it'll all be easy now"

    Don't give up, lower your expectations, just enjoy being out there and not on the couch. Today's run was just that no plan no distance requirements a just feel the fresh air, feel the beat (I love running to music) enjoy the scenery.

    I'm sure with time all these things will fall into place after all 13 weeks ago I couldn't walk to the end of the road without panting.

    good luck and let us know how you get along.

  • If you're missing Laura, why don't you run to Week 8 or 9 podcasts, or try the C25k+ podcasts? You don't HAVE to do what Laura tells you, sometimes it's just nice to have her there!

  • I think people expect too much of themselves early on, and think that results will be quick. They are in the scheme of things, and when you come through this and look back you'll see it for yourself.

    Have patience, keep calm and at all costs, keep plugging away. Walking a bit will give you oomph to carry on. We all do it, it's fine as it means you can have a breather, start jogging again and complete the job. A little walk can mean the difference between finishing and not

    Stop beating yourself up, slow down, and try and enjoy yourself. You can do it but cut yourself some slack

  • I too sometimes feel tearful after a run, I Googled it and apparently the general consensus is its often caused by not drinking or eating enough. Could that be your reason too?

    I think C25K leads us to believe we can keep on making those giant improvements afterwards, and most of us find that just isn't the case. We all have bad runs sometimes.. you mention too how everyone seems to be doing so well, but most people only post about their triumphs, I'm sure they have bad runs too

    If you miss Laura, why not keep playing the podcasts? I don't have any other music, too stupid to get it on my phone, I still use the podcasts just don't take any notice when Laura says slow down. The songs are so familiar now, and remind me of how brilliant I felt when I cracked each week. I find them a great help.

    You're definitely not rubbish, you're a C25K graduate, that's brilliant isn't it?

  • I agree about playing the earlier podcasts when just running and not doing Laura's instructions. It's nice to remember how hard things were when you ran your first five minutes, and sometimes the familiar songs make me laugh when I think how I was puffing round the playing field at 5.30 in the morning during the summer!

  • I was definately the same as you. As everyone has said it is quite common. You wouldn't expect to become a pilot and fly the fastest jet plane straight away. Your body is still adjusting to running. Keep going and slow down when it feels hard and in time your body should start to feel better. It has taken me ages to get to a point that I am relaxed when I run. A lot of my problem was that I was aneamic and that interfers with running but mainly I had to slow down. you will get there, happy running.

  • Sorry to hear that you are feeling down, you really shouldnt. The very acheivement of completing C25K should make you proud of yourself. Try to start your runs very slowly, a light jog as Laura says. I'm now running 48 minutes each run, but I still find the first 3 minutes the most difficult. I try to start off at the gentlest pace I can comfortably manage, as I do feel a bit yucky for the first couple of minutes. Just my own opinion, but for me the number one priority is to enjoy my runs, and if that means slowing down, then that's what I do. Stop beating yourself up, try to enjoy your runs, take it slowly, relax, and the improvements will come on there own, without you noticing.

    My best 5K time until last saturday was my first run after C25K. For weeks after that my times were slower than my last C25K run. Then on the friday last week I sudeenly realised that there was a bit more speed available so I ran faster for the last 2 minutes and felt fine. So on Saturdays run I pushed myself a bit more throughout the run and got a new PB. But that came after weeks of slower runs. I'm sure what was happening in between was increasing stamina without me noticing.

    So please dont give up. Running should be fun, so take it gently, and enjoy the scenery. The improvements will continue to come, and they'll arrive when you are least expecting them :)

  • Just listen to yourself - ONLY 1.5 miles!! I'll bet you weren't able to say that 10 weeks ago.

    Running is hard. I used not to enjoy the actual running, but felt such a sense of achievement at the end that it kept me going. I now mostly do run/ walk intervals which seem to suit this ageing body of mine, but I actively enjoy the runs now. I still get out there 2-3 times a week and do at least 5K each time. I love the fresh air and the freedom and the knowledge that I can do it!

    Not many of us are super quick or long distance runners, but what we all do is equally valid.

    Put away your watch, slow down, walk a bit- either when you need to, or in planned intervals - and just let yourself enjoy and revel in what you can now do.

    You're doing great!

  • He he!! - Yes - I am definitely into run/walking too!! :) I use all kinds of reasons to run/walk - for example, I use a heart rate monitor so I am running/walking between upper and lower HR limits. I am also doing tempo intervals - which are done just slightly slower than 5K race pace - for 4 minutes or six minutes per i minute interval ( they are tiring and are definitely a hard workout - but I still get to walk every so often) :)

    I can't say that I really enjoy running non-stop --- but this week I did enjoy achieving the ability to run continuously for 30 minutes at a very low HR , something that I have been trying to do now for quite some time. I think my HR training is finally starting to show results!!

  • I've really enjoyed reading this thread, what great support and advice is given on this forum... I'm sure lots of people feel the same, and we should just try to be proud of the fact that we all get off the couch and forget times/distances etc. I really missed Laura too, and still listen to her more often than not, we should campaign for her to do more podcasts for graduates!!!


  • I've really enjoyed reading this thread, what great support and advice is given on this forum... I'm sure lots of people feel the same, and we should just try to be proud of the fact that we all get off the couch and forget times/distances etc. I really missed Laura too, and still listen to her more often than not, we should campaign for her to do more podcasts for graduates!!!


  • Never look ahead when you run!!! :) -- always look back to where you have come from!! And you have come - A LONG WAY!!! - as we all have.

    Did I hear you say that you ran 1.5 miles -- how many of your contemporaries you know well - friends - relatives- workmates- etc , can do that?? As someone said - C25K is meant to get you off the couch and running - and that is what you are doing. Now that you can run -- stop pushing yourself , and having expectations of yourself - and just enjoy your runs. Pick a nice scenic route that is a little bit "longish" - something that you wouldn't normally do on foot - and run/walk it ( nothing wrong with walking a bit during a pleasant scenic run) - stop and smell the roses on the way - enjoy!!!

  • I can't really add too much to the very wise words already written. But is some ways your post is very useful for us all to confess that we know where you are coming from (me included) and this running lark is not all about PB's for everyone... its about not being on the couch and at least doing something to improve our health whether for 10mins to an hour.

    Please keep at it... we all want you to enjoy your future runs :-)

  • Thank you all. Oh has bought me a Garmin for Christmas so I'm sure having a new toy will help with motivation.

    I need to stop beating myself up and try to focus on the positives...... Easier said than done sometimes when you feel a bit low generally.

  • 15 mins a mile ain't to be sniffed at!! i have difficult days too. Pushing for a faster time by increasing your speed may be a later step. Consider the idea that a consistent speed may actually get you there faster. I find I tend to speed up and then really slow down so I'm using the rotten weather to build a consistent speed on a treadmill. Its quite hard but I'm still able to breathe well. be gentle with yourself I think you're a star to achieve what you have. You're worked too hard to let this challenge beat you. As a wise person here told me running is a mental challenge as well as a physical one.

    Best wishes

  • It is 18 months since I started C25k and 16 months since I graduated. My PB for 5k has reduced by about two minutes in that time and my comfortable running pace is hardly discernably faster than it was when I graduated. I can run further and longer, because I slowly upped my distance and duration but I have not become an elite athlete and never will. I would like to say that I feel much better for the running, but in the midst of the seasonal lurgey I feel like c**p, at the moment. However, running has improved my stamina, generally improved my mood, made me appreciate physical activity and my environment more. The benefits are manifold.

    It is not a quick fix. The advice about hydration and fuelling should be taken seriously along with consideration of your general physical condition (are you coming down with the lurgey? my last run left me aching and exhausted, before I succumbed to the bug). Remember how far you have come. Don't feel like a failure if you walk. You are an autonomous being and can do what you like. Don't take on board pressures to conform to any particular running routine. Running is for you. You create your routines and include challenges if you wish, but under no obligation to do so. The winter months are tough, so try to find some beautiful surroundings to run in. Hills, fields, forests, cliffs or beaches. Stick with it, and come the spring you will experience some wonderful runs, I am sure, making you feel more alive than ever before.

    Good luck. Keep running, keep smiling.

  • I could have written this post myself!!! I too have runs like this and feel so incredibly disheartened at times - thanks for the honesty, sometimes you feel like it's just you but take heart it's not!! Thanks to everyone for all the replies to y'all they really help

  • hey...don't beat yourself up, you have done so well!! I have been running for nearly 2 years now and I always have awful aches and pains at least for the first ten minutes ( and longer!). What I do is focus on some little landmark on the ground ( a twig, drain cover etc), get to it and then immediately look for the next one and so on. It refocuses my mind from the pain, gets me in a sort of run- trance and also for some reason also speeds me up! You ARE NOT RUBBISH, you are doing well, give yourself very small goals to begin with to build your confidence, like just do a 20 minute run next time and have a reward after..... It will get better, hang in there :)

  • Lots of lovely helpful stuff on here x

  • Lots of great advice. First off, you are a graduate, which is no easy feat! I also thought when I graduated that everything would fall into place, but that's not really the case. I spent the first few months alternating between a 30 min run and one of the podcasts, even back to week 2. I think if you're struggling with your breathing, doing some of the shorter runs can help you focus on that and not worry so much about how long you're running. Plus Laura is like an old friend supporting you. As for your brain telling you to stop....literally tell it to shut up and go away. It's workd for me : )

  • I totally can relate to you. For months I could not tun without my head telling me that if I didn't stop for a walk I was going to die or worse lol. I believed my head because after all it is MY head. It got so ingrained in me that during ParkRun I would have special walking spots - that meant I would walk when I reached them whether I wanted to or not. I was getting very dejected by this time and wondered if I ever would be what I perceived a runner to be. I discounted that fact that I was running maybe 95% of the run.

    Then Parkrun changed their course - just did it sort of in a reverse direction and moved the start/finish point. So my walking points were no longer there. When my head told me to stop and walk or I'd die I would tell it to shut up and slow down a bit. The second day of the new course I ran the whole way. And now I'm scared to stop and walk in case the bad habit comes back so I haven't walked since. There are however some parts of my local round the town run where for safety's sake I have to walk but they don't seem to be a head issue more a health and safety issue.

    Try a different route, even run your current route in reverse direction (I don't mean run backwards). Tell your head to but out, instead or walking try a very slow jog - it's still running. And - don't be so hard on yourself - you're doing great.

  • I find that my low point is about 15 or 20 minutes into the run which unfortunately coincides with a steep hill on my normal route! I play it by ear and sometimes allow myself to walk to the top of the hill, but other times give myself a pep talk about if I get to the top of this hill it is downhill all the way back to the start (I forget to remind myself of the very short hill by the post office) and this seems to help. I think you just need to let yourself walk when you need to, and keep going. You are still doing the distance, whatever speed!

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