I hate running, even when I went to the gym I did my best to avoid running but sadly its for two reasons that if I started running would probably ease off. I get so out of breath, I walk quite a lot but I'm terrible when it comes to running (I am a smoker but cutting down, less than 5 a day now!) plus I'm so self-concious about how I look. I hate the way I look in gym clothing, it hugs in bumpy places and never seems to suit me. I know both of these I should probably just 'get over and do it' but I wondered if anyone has any tips? I live on a main road in a city so finding quiet places to run is very difficult.

27 Replies

  • Hi!

    I think the only answer to your question is to fire up the podcasts and get straight into the programme. The feelings you describe are very common. I've never been a smoker but I do understand just about everything else.

    Self conscious? Yes, me too, at least at the start. After a very short time though, you will realise that almost no one is watching you. Those that do are usually wondering if they could do it too.

    Out of breath? C25k is for you. It's very easy on the new runner. Here's a secret no one tells you... All runners get out of breath.... It's just that over time, it takes longer to get that way and when they do, they've got used to it.... Honestly, this programme will change you and the way you look at yourself and the way you look at "exercise". It will become a positive habit.

    Live in a city? There must be a small park somewhere near you. That's all you'll need for the early weeks. Either that or find a back street somewhere. If you can be a little more specific I'm sure there's someone here who will know somewhere you can go.

    All you need is a t-shirt, a pair of shorts and a pair of trainers and the desire to change and you can and will do this. Best of all, your biggest fan club is already right here.

  • I reckon most of us felt horribly self conscious when we first started running. Actually, I spent two weeks doing 20 minutes brisk walking 3 times a week before I even dared start running. I live in a built up area too, and went out very early in the morning before the traffic built up, so nobody would see me. I also wore baggy tops to cover any bumps and wobbles that were accentuated when I ran! I still prefer early morning running because there are fewer traffic fumes but I couldn't care less who see me now. Go for it!

  • Well done for considering it! Rob and AM have given great advice, and I would add a couple of things. If gym clothing doesn't suit you and you feels self-conscious in it, don't wear it. Find some baggy trackie bottoms to start with, and a big sweatshirt that covers everything. Soon you won't care, but to start with it might help. That's how I started. Next, main roads in cities are so busy that many people are too busy to bother with anyone else. You could either run early/late when there are fewer people around, or you could use your 5 mins of warm-up/cool-down walk to get somewhere quieter. I'm still overweight and jiggly, I still get horrendously out of breath. I go beetroot red, I drip with sweat, even in this cold weather, and I wear brightly coloured Lycra. A lovely sight, I'm sure - and I don't give a damn :D Give it a go, and come back and tell us how you're getting on. All the very best with it.

  • Rob is right....we all get out of breath and that is what "learning to run" is all about. For most of us, our breathing remains the limiting factor in how hard we can push when running, but learning to control our speed is one of the earliest lessons in C25k. You have to run at a speed that allows you to breathe comfortably and, theoretically, you should be able to hold a conversation. Simply, if you are gasping for breath, slow down.

    As for being self conscious, you will soon find out that you are invisible to most people and very soon you won't give a damn what others think.

    Coming to C25k from the stance of hating running is not a good is not sustainable. You won't run if you hate it. Believe me, many folk here say they hated running at school, but become addicts in no time at all. So start with a positive and open frame of mind and C25k really can change your life, your health and your whole outlook on life. IT WORKS and YOU CAN DO IT!!!

    Good luck

  • Hear hear ...

    I always said I hated running. And I did. Then I started C25K. Now I hate not running. This could happen to you too - beware!!

  • but when did THAT kick in for you?

  • I can't remember. It just kinda creeps up on you. I ran my first 8k this morning and it felt AWESOME!

  • What everyone else There will always be fitter, leaner, taller people than us around. Similarly there will be larger, more wobbly and far more self-conscious people around. Anyone watching you is probably thinking, "that's exactly what I should be doing". No-one else could give a monkeys. The first time I ran I was crushed with self-consciousness and in baggy clothes. Now I run (slowly jog!) in tight running gear. The feeling you have when you've had a go will outweigh all the fear and hesitation you feel now.

    Seen the latest advert #this girl can?

    GO FOR IT!! 😀

  • I always hated running, however last October, spurred on by some friends who run, I decided to give C25k a go. I was approaching 45, 15 and a half stone, and have always told myself that 'I am not built for running'. When at the gym I have always done a bit of cardio, but mostly weights. This however was doing nothing really for overall fitness.

    So, October 2014, I started week 1 run 1 at the gym on the treadmill. It almost killed me, I could hardly breath, sweating like a pig and legs were like jelly.

    I have now just finished week 8, have run two 5k already, and I LOVE RUNNING. There, I have said it now. I look forward to going for a run, finding new routes, challenging myself a little to push a bit harder when I am feeling strong.

    This programme is brilliant. It trains both your body and your brain to build up slowly, to the point where you will be able to run for 30 minutes (just forget about the distance or speed for now).

    The key for me was learning to slow down and pace myself - my average speeds when I have run 5k were about 20% slower than the speeds I was trying to run at for weeks 1-3. Slow is good, so long as one foot is still going in front of the other then.

    Good luck, I hope you are able to give it a go and eventually get to tolerate/like/love running!

  • Sorry I haven't read the replies (just dashing out) so may be repeating what others have said. I dress in some thin sports loose fitting trousers and a fleece - so I don't think I stand out too much. But what does it for me is that the first 5 mins is walking so no-one that knows me can see me - the same goes for the cool down 5 min walk. So the bit where I'm running is a no mans land. You have to just go for it and remember that at least you're getting out there and the embarrassment, if there is any, kind of only lasts for the first 5 weeks, thereafter, 'you're a runner' ! - so (a) you don't mind (b) think of the benefits for the rest of your life whilst those people laughing at you five weeks ago are suddenly admiring you.

  • I started wearing normal clothes and walking boots and with a dog on a lead. Not especially recommended but worked for me. I didn't have a high opinion of running but C25K made me realise that all the things I hated (synthetic clothing, pink, stretching immediately before and/or after, minimum speeds, pavements) were not an essential part of it. It is simply a particular way of moving - all Laura was asking me to do was to run for 60 seconds and that only after I'd been walking for 5 minutes with some sneakily uplifting music.

    I found telling myself all the time that I didn't have to do this if I didn't want to was very motivating!

  • I "started again" again at the gym yesterday and have decided to use the podcasts as my cardio workout before going on to the weights programme supplied by the gym. I am by far the biggest person at the gym with over 10 stone to lose, all belly and boobs and have been incredibly self concious. This time I had a little chat with myself, donned my full length leggings and a really funky but baggy T-Shirt and just got on with it. At one point I could feel the (young, fit, good looking) man on the bike next to me looking at me and dared to look back - and he gave me the lovliest smile of encouragement!

    As for week 1, run 1 of the programme - it was hard, really hard! I didn't manage all of the 60 second runs but I did 4 and will keep going until I get them all done, I was so chuffed with myself for running at all!

    Sorry for rambling all over your post! I guess what I'm trying to say is please just give it a go! You'll soon feel so much better and proud of yourself, and forget the feelings of self consciousness. Most of all, good luck!!

  • Ha. I could see myself falling off the back end of the treadmill if a good looking fellow smiled at me ;) Maybe I should run inside more.

  • What everyone has said!! We all had to start and I'm sure most of us felt the way you do.


    Download the C25K podcasts.

    Put on a pair of trackie bottoms and a baggy sweatshirt (get a light loose water/wind proof jacket for the colder days) and your running shoes. A wooly hat and gloves is also a must for our cold British February!!

    No one is actually looking at you - everyone is too busy getting on with their own lives

    Go for it!!

    You are not going to go out there and run 5k in 15 mins immediately - that's not how it works.

    Don't try to run too fast - a slow jog is absolutely fine and you will find yourself building up over the the weeks of the C25K. Pushing yourself too hard is more likely to make you give up when your body isn't used to this.

    Repeat week one as many times as you like until you feel comfortable with it. When I started I hadn't run for 50 years (I'm 68) and I was very overweight and very unfit.

    I repeated week one 3 times. Then I did it again and moved on to the rest of the weeks.

    I've just sent in my application for Race for Life 5k!

    If I can do this - anyone can

    Good luck

  • All of the above :D Can't really add much more. I still wear my old jogging bottoms and don't wear tight tops though I have opted for a glow in the dark yellow top :D

  • Hi. Ex smoker here (hopefully!) I was getting horribly out of breath after very little running, and the advice I got from this forum really helped me. I think I was too conscious of my breathing, and worrying about 'how' I was breathing too much, so the advice was just to breath however worked best and not to try and breath in a certain way. Well, I'm no superstar runner or anything, but I'm in Week 6 now and I'm definitely more relaxed and finding it easier than I did. Still going beetroot red by the end of each run, and yes, I get a bit self-conscious about that, but hey, I feel WAY better than I did so it's definitely worth it.

  • I can't add to what every one else has said but from experience I know what will happen after about week 2 and that is that C25K is a huge incentive not to smoke. If you smoke before you run you'll be more out of breath, then you'll begin to realise that if you hold off smoking on that day till after you've run you'll feel so much better. Then you're body will be telling you how good it feels to able to breath that deeply and not feel restrained. Getting fit is another aid to stopping the fags. In a year from now aim to look back and think how could you have managed to smoke and run?

  • Give it a go - you won't regret it. The others have summed it up well - just keep doing the podcasts, keep posting here. We've got your back.

  • I completely agree with Rob and his Westie...the programme will really help. Have you considered the NHS quitting services. They have a great scheme that sends you texts?? good luck!

  • Thanks for the advice all! Mornings don't do well for me atm as the meds I'm on are really messing with me being able to wake up, hopefully won't be on them much longer! There is a park near me but rarely quiet, i live in Leicester in the Claredon Park area but I don't know much of the area all that well so could be a good opportunity to explore. What do you take with you when running?

  • What do I take with me?

    1) MOST IMPORTANT - the house keys so I can get back in when I finish

    2) my phone and headphones (so I can listen to music or the podcast)

    3) some emergency cash and a piece of paper with my ICE details (all tucked into my phone case)

    That's it (apart from some clothing so I'm not arrested)

  • Just to add to Adam's list... at this time of the year, I also bring a pair of gloves and a buff (one of those cotton tubes you can place in a dozen different ways around your head to keep ears and cheeks warm). They normally come off after the first 15 minutes, but they're invaluable until I'm throughly warm.

    Also, it's worth spending a few quid on a long sleeved "base layer" and long running leggings. T-shirts etc are made of cotton which just sucks up your sweat and holds on to it so you get horribly cold in no time, whereas "proper" running gear wicks the sweat away from your body and lets it evaporate. Doesn't need to cost a fortune, many find their first running gear at Aldi for a fiver or thereabouts.

  • Clarendon Park is perfect for running! If you are that close to the centre of Leicester then you are never going to find somewhere truly quiet to run unless you start to zigzag around the back roads and risk getting lost. There is always the possibility of running up and down New Walk as well (traffic free and reasonably wide).

    Give it a go, and remember that we are all so wrapped up in our own lives that we barely register what anyone else is doing! Plus why would anyone in their right mind judge someone who is publicly and openly doing something to improve their health? It will feel awkward to start with but we all promise you that the feeling does dwindle as your confidence grows.

  • I live on a main road too. I hid myself away by running on trails for a few weeks. After a bit you don't give a flying *uc* what folks think and you'll soon be high tailing it down your street in full view of the neighbours. It's great fun and so liberating. You'll wonder why you never did it before. You will lose weight if you keep running and if you ditch the bad food. I'd kick the fags into touch too as you will need every ounce of puff you've got

    Don't quit this programme. It will be your route to good health.

    Enjoy it! It's fun!

  • Go for it - wear the baggies and a cap if you are not ready to face people. My sister is on the ecigs and has changed her life! The podcasts are so encouraging you will love them. We all started with the same apprehensions and still here. You will be too! Good luck x

  • Hi, I really felt for you when i read your post.

    Having lurked in the shadows reading all the posts since September and really valuing the motivation and support for others ( and indirectly me ) I am really happy to say I can now post a (possibly) useful answer.

    I graduated last week, it hasn't been straightforward - six weeks with no running around xmas because of a horrid flu thing - problems with the podcast when in the gym, foot pain etc etc.

    However, yesterday I ran for 40 minutes...and i could have kept going (but had to collect my daughter) It would have seemed impossible just 2 months ago. ......but do you know what? I still cant run to the end of my road (about 100 yards) without feeling out of breath.

    For the first 5, 6, 7 minutes (which is alot of the first runs) I stumble around in some kind of aerobic shock, looking slightly drunk, unable to get a rythmn to my stride, huffing and puffing like a 40 a day smoker.

    Then something miraculous happens and my breathing regulates and at 20 minutes i am breathing like i am barley moving.

    I'm not fit (yet), i am 44 and quite overweight but have totally got the running bug and am looking forward to achieving 10k before too long. You can do it too, I wish i had said hello on the forum earlier, make the most of all the advice and support that is here. It got me through and it will get you through too.x

  • as a fellow non- runner I am with you on this one.. only week 1 done so far... one day/step/shuffle/week at a time.. aiming solely for week 9 post myself.. and the cute little ' graduate' badge... then see where to go from there.. the c25K programme started in the US many years ago... and many have achieved it.. so stick with it!!

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