What motivates you when the running gets tough? - Couch to 5K

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What motivates you when the running gets tough?

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I was curious as to what motivates you when you’re running and feel like you're running out of steam – is it hitting a particular time or distance, or getting to a certain weight, or just more of a general sense of wellbeing? I imagine we’ve all started this programme for different reasons and whilst some may not have a specific goal in mind there is likely to be a motivating factor.

For me, the overriding aim is to lose weight which I’m hoping to achieve through getting fit (I view the highs I’m getting from running as a lovely bonus) – when I’m struggling on a run and need some motivation I picture me on a motorbike - I’m learning to ride and want to be able to get leathers that won’t me look like a squashed sausage (not a good look!)

What is it that you think about / visualise that keeps you going when you hit a particular tough spot in your run?

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I have a history of being lazy. When I started Couch to 5K I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't make any more excuses. When I'm mid-run, or preparing for a run, I ALWAYS have those lazy demons talking to me... "Take a break" " Missing one won't hurt you" "You don't have to run the Entire time... just do half" "There is no reason to make yourself this tired, do a shorter run today and next time you'll do more".. yada yada yada...

When I hear this in my head I focus on the promise I made to myself.. no excuses. So far, it has powered me through 6 completed weeks. On to week 7 today.  Oy.. 

Good luck to you!


Hi Louisella, I have just graduated on C25k which for someone like me who is  overweight and hasn't ran since school in the earlier 1980s is a massive achievement.

Every week i would set myself a little target of a distance eg the next row of houses or the next bus stop whilst this probably isnt what others would says and they would say just do the time in a slow and steady manners as i myself have been saying recently to others(nowt like not practicing what you preach) the targets i set myself weren't massively further than i was already running during those timed sections so wasn't going to stretch myself to far.

I am also helped a bit by an in work challenge with a set date to be generally healthier and slimmer.

The above worked for me but may not work for everyone or may not be the best way to do it but it worked for me.

So from my point of view little targets and the support of a people on here worked great.It is good if you have someone who is up to the part as you in the programme.

in reply to Butchdingle

Congrats on your graduation! :)

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I'm similar to PotterBook and Butchdingle!

Just determined to not fail at this! I gave in to gremlins on a few runs along the way and it made me feel worse so I guessed I had to overcome them no matter how hard that was! 

I'm quite competitive but I am also inherently lazy, I hate feeling uncomfortable and out of my depth which I did for quite a few weeks of running.

The forum provided the 'competition'. Not in any kind of direct speed/ distance way but in a 'they've done it, I can do it' way- Butchdingle being one of my first virtual running partners!

I too then started to pay attention on regular run routes and knew what distance for me I should be making. I have also just then fixed on another section of fence, another field etc. or trying to reach the same point but in less time!

It's got to come from inside at some point but I reckon most of us find that mojo as we progress and actually start to believe in ourselves :)

I'm never going to break records but I'm happy with what I'm achieving :)


I never run a set route so just use the timer on my watch to get to 30 minutes then aim for the next corner, then the next house, or the next down hill section! I am I try not to check my watch until I feel like I am dying as generally that only gets me as far as 20 minutes in!


I have always wanted to do the Loch Ness 10k or half marathon. I always visualise what I've seen on the course because it looks beautiful. 

I started running after a massive family tragedy which led to me becoming agoraphobic. It got to near the end of November and I wanted to have achieved something in that year. So I started the C25k and my confidence grew with every run. 

I've still not run the Loch Ness as I've been on and off the IC, but I'm building back up and hope to be able to do the River Ness 10k next year.


The mental challenge is the part I’m struggling with most, and I still don’t feel like I’ve nailed it.

Some strategies that I’ve used that have been successful include:

focusing on the immediate short term, whether that’s “it’ll all be over soon, I don’t have to do it for much longer” or “I’ll feel fantastic when I’m done” or “looking forward to a nice breakfast/shower when I get back”

Thinking about big, long-term goals doesn’t seem helpful.

My usual route can also be broken down into roughly seven sections (nine now I’ve had to extend it), so I sometimes think, I’ll just do the next section and then maybe think about stopping, then just another and just another until I might as well finish it.

Sometimes I do a quick mental checklist. Is my breathing okay? How do my legs feel? Should I slow down? I sometimes test myself by saying something out loud, usually “I’m okay, I’m okay”. If I can do that, then I’m okay. Trying to look around me can be helpful, just for distraction. I have a tendency to focus on the ground ahead of me, but looking around and enjoying my surroundings and trying to smile, can be helpful.


If I feel like stopping I just say to myself "hey,what's so hard about what you're doing? Are your legs hurting? No. Can u breathe? Yes. Then keep going and stop winging and go a bit faster." If the answers are the other way round I ease off slightly until I feel comfortable. Them demons are a menace tho,sometimes I think about things totally unrelated to what I'm doing like what I'm doing tomorra, or buying myself something nice.other times I just remind myself of the calories I'm burning and that I'm burning so many more than if I'd stayed at home sat watching telly!

Good luck!

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My biggest motivation is knowing where I have come from (my journey started in May 2015 with a walking challenge), and looking forwards to what could yet be achieved.

I have been fortunate in that I haven't suffered from Gremlins (yet), and even a slightly hungover/dreich Aberdeen run yesterday was met with optimism.

I just go out for a run, enjoy my surroundings and be confident in my abilities.  I know I can run for 30 minutes, will graduate next week, and nothing can stop me.

My mental strength has improved immensely.  My fitness is at levels I never expected, and I am just at the start!  What more motivation do you need, knowing that you have achieved all of this.  And every one here has achieved something, even those on week 1.

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I've wanted to be a runner for ages. One of those cool ones who goes out every morning and rattles off 5 miles before breakfast.  Lean and mean. I tried about 12 years ago on my own and got quite far, but I was never particularly fast and then a cold got in the way, then some health issues and before I knew it I'd lost fitness and things started going backwards. I kept trying on and off over the next years, sometimes for months on end. Never got very far, never saw any major improvement and it would all just fizzle out. This time though I got to the end and can now run 30 mins 3x a week without any real problems. I love it! My motivation is still that lean, mean, cool lady who at the age of 80 goes out in all weathers just because she can!


I give myself a good talking to and say to myself you can do this, I found from others that you can get the gremlins in the first 10 mins or so, once you get past that and into a steady rhythm, it seems to be alright , but everyone is different, and I simply never want to give up, even if I go a snails pace, I try and visualize that moment when Ive completed the run and on the warm down that magic feeling of achievement,

in reply to evecanrun2

I must admit I love that buzz when Laura tells you to slow down for your final warm down and you think to yourself 'I did it!'


My motivation was to finish the programme and to be seen to finish thecprogramme by my family. That got me out there in the cold, dark and even snow to do it. It felt good to chalk off another run and get closer and closer to w9. After graduation it is a bit harder but a mixture of having some kind of goal, writing up in my runner's log after each run and knowing that time on the IC is inevitable due to pain or bugs makes me get out and run whenever I can.


My initial motivation was that I've always envied those who run with style and finesse, I want to be that person. Determination keeps me going, or is it just plain stubborness?

Once I started C25K, I wanted not only to complete the program, but to run 5K in 30 minutes. Looking back I think I may have pushed a bit too hard for this, but I ran with my dog pulling on her lead which did help. A flat running surface also helped.

After graduating, I set myself a target of running up a really long, steep monster of a hill, which I have not only conquered but can achieve towards the end of my run. Hope you're impressed.

My main motivation now is seeing how much fun my dog has running along with me now I can run over the hills. I owe it to her to keep going.

Having new expectations is part of the experience for me, it's not that I'm not satisfied with my achievements, I do take time to reflect on how far I have come, it's just there is always somewhere new, or further afield to explore.


My motivation when a run gets tough is the knowledge from experience, that the more I run, the better my future runs will be.  I know that running will make me fitter, and the fitter I get, the more pleasurable my runs become. 

One thing I've learned since starting running in 2014, is that runs can be easy or difficult from one run to the next.  If I put in a personal best then often the following run will be hard work, and much slower than recent runs. A week ago, while spending the weekend in the UK, I managed my first half marathon distance, I was really pleased.  During the next week my next two 5km runs were much slower than usual (33mins instead of 27mins).  Then this sunday's 18km run was back to normal time for me at the moment of 2 hrs 10 mins.  Then this morning my 5km run was back to 27mins.

I've learned to accept that some runs will be more difficult and slower.  I normally just relax, slow right down and content myself with putting in the distance, with no concern about the time.  Experience has shown me that if I do that then within 2 or 3 runs things will get better.  I think that it's better to slow down and relax than to fight against it and try to speed up.  If you push your body harder when it doesnt feel like it then I think you put yourself at risk of injury.  Better to chill out at slower speed until your body is ready.

Happy running :)


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