C25K & Smoking Cessation

Hi Everybody!

I've been reading along and posting the odd comment since I started the programme but this is my first post. I'm just getting ready to head out for Run 2 of Week 4 and this will be my second run as an ex-smoker. I'm a 23 year old man, slightly overweight and have smoked 12-15 a day for the last 6 and a half years. I started C25K because I want to get back to the running I enjoyed so much in my mid-teens (before I smoked!) and hope to live a more healthy lifestyle - I've also joined my girlfriend on her Slimming World diet for the past 10 weeks or so.

Upon starting the programme I could never have imagined I'd have made it to Week 4! It's true that the first run is the hardest, since then I've managed to complete each run and have not yet repeated a step, managing to follow the steady progression of the programme. As a smoker I've found it difficult to keep my breathing under control, I'd say I've found this more difficult than the physical exertion on my legs. It is because of my desire to see this through to Week 9 (and beyond) that I started to taper down my cigarette intake on Friday, and woke up on Monday determined to go 'cold turkey'. So far - so good! It was tough making it through that first day - very much like W1R1 - but by managing my cravings and concentrating on the upcoming W4R1, then heading out to complete that lovely but exhausting run in the sun, I made it through my first day smoke-free in years! I also found that even after one day I was noticing improvements to my breathing while running.

So yesterday was surprisingly easy, very few cravings until I decided to put the BBQ on after work. However I made it through and have woke this morning with no cravings for my 'morning ciggie' and I'm excited to head out for W4R2.

I would never have thought a month ago that C25K would lead me to stop smoking. This is the first attempt I've ever made to quit and I'm determined to see it through. I am very optimistic about stopping. Although it has been touched on in a few of the posts I've read on here, I need to express my amazement at how running can improve your mental state. I believe that the running I've been doing over the past few weeks has given me the mental power to quit, the confidence that I can indeed stay off them and removed the anxieties that triggered me to smoke. The power of exercise on the brain is immense and the positivity we gain from completing each step in the programme can be channelled to achieve something positive in other aspects of our lives.

I'm interested to hear if anyone else has started/completed the program whilst continuing to smoke, but I'd also love to hear from any other ex-smokers and their experience of quitting along with any tips they may have. It would also be great to hear from anyone else who believes in the positive impact that running has on our mental state.

Sorry for the long post. Have a good run & thanks for reading!

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25 Replies

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  • I'm not a smoker and don't tend to know many smokers (maybe it's just where I live) but well done on both starting running and giving up smoking. You are right about the mental wellbeing and hopefully that will see you through the cravings and on to a healthier life.

  • Just a bad habit picked up at university, determined not to return to it! 19.1% of Scots smoke (18% UK average) and 19.3% of all British men. As a man in Scotland I suppose I'm slightly predisposed! Thank you for commenting.

  • I don't smoke now (a bit 20 years ago maybe!) but very well done to you. It's hard but so worth it and you have youth on your side! I've found the mental wellbeing has crept up on me undetected until suddenly I just feel better about things. Yes it hurts when I 'run' but I feel more able in every day life. I've made subtle changes - I get up early AM now to do it, I've always been a lead weight in bed in the morning. It makes you take positive action in your life in small ways. And I look forward to the next run even though it hurts. That's not normal for me but I love it!! Good luck.

  • I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who struggles to get out of bed in the morning πŸ˜‚ slowly becoming more of a morning person with each run I complete. It's definitely worth pushing ourselves when we're suffering through our runs to gain all the benefits it brings afterwards. Thanks for the reply!

  • A great post Swarfiga..and well done on kicking smoking into touch.

    Totally agree that your mental attitude improves as you work through the plan. The sessions require discipline, concentration and determination, but the payoff is a huge boost to your self-confidence and esteem and knowing that you are amazing!😊

    Good luck with your run..you can do it..

    Don't look back to the smoker you were..look forward to the amazing runner you are becomming...

    Onwards and upwards..😊

    p.s why not put some of the money you are saving from giving up smoking towards little running treats as you progress..or save up for a garmin if you like techy things..

  • Thanks for the reply Jan, it's wonderful to hear how so many people have benefited from the plan. It'll be great to have a few extra pennies over the coming weeks and months; I think new running trainers might be on the cards sometime soon 😊 I bought the Samsung GearFit2 at the end of Week 2 (Samsung phone user) and I've been looking forward to examining the various stats it provides after each run. Every little motivation helps!

  • Well done on the positive shift in your mindset leading you to make such a great commitment to stop smoking. I am sure that noticing the changes in your fitness will reinforce your determination. Have you looked at the NHS forum for stopping smoking? Being in a group helps maintain change better than struggling on your own. Your GP practise nurse should also be able to sign post you to local support services too.

    I really agree that running increases mental wellbeing. I sort out all sorts of mental garbage during my runs 😁

  • Thanks Helen! I've not joined any support groups/forums yet. I'm fully determined to stay smoke free and if the coming weeks are as straightforward as the past 3 days have been then I'm sure I'll be fine. I've shocked myself at how well I've coped with these first few days but might have a look at the forums soon. My partner is a nurse and along with friends, family and replies from yourself and others I've had great support so far!

  • Great!!! You are making all the right moves at the moment..... keep it up.

    I gave up cold turkey, having at my worst been a 20+a day smoker. It is tough and takes will power, but frankly now I can't understand why I ever smoked at all.

    As a runner, you won't want anything to get in the way of living life to the full.

    Keep running, keep smiling.

  • I think cold turkey is the way to go, especially this being my first (and hopefully only) attempt to quit. I'm already beginning to question how/why I smoked for so long and feel great for stopping. I'm sure that there will be more trials and tribulations to come, and might invest in some NRT treatmemts such as lozenges or chewing gum for when I next go out for a drink with friends who smoke. I'm hoping that by the time I next go out with smokers my cravings have subsided even more; I worry that using an NRT might give me a taste for nicotine again. Thanks for the reply and well done for quitting yourself!

  • I quit 20 odd years ago, when I was still older than you are now and had been smoking for about fifteen years. The physical habit thing, rather than the nicotine hit itself, was the hardest part to abandon. Coffee break, going to the pub etc., all times when I would roll up a fag.......seems almost unbelievable now. I think you are wise to avoid the crutches of patches and gum. Mind power is incredible, as you are going to find out over the next few weeks.

    You have chosen two challenges at once, which is brave, but your positive attitude shines out and you will do this, I am sure. I am jealous, because I did not discover running until I was 57, while you will have the joy of running for the rest of your days.

    This programme, along with this forum, is a life changer and it can change the way you view the world......honestly. Best of luck and keep us posted.

  • Thank you so much for your wise words. I said in my post that I've been reading the forum since beginning the plan and your posts have been the ones which I have followed with most interest. After reading the post about your diagnosis I was moved and I'd like you to know that it influenced me in deciding to quit. We never know what is around the corner and smoking exposes us to so many ailments that it makes total sense to reduce that risk. Thanks again!

  • Thank you......you don't know how much that helps.

    Keep running, keep smiling.

  • Please keep if those cigarettes, Honestly you will be so pleased you did , I was a 20 a day smoker and finally gave up as I wanted to live a healthy lifestyle . I have never been happier about myself since quitting . I gym and do other sports such as swimming and am now on week 7 . The breathing does get easier and you will learn to control you breath length so as you don't gasp .

  • Glad I'm not the only one who's coincided quitting with an uptake in health and fitness! I think they go hand in hand, hopefully it helps to keep the pounds off that many ex-smokers initially put on. Even whem I'm not out running I feel that my breathing is becoming deeper and more efficient. Thanks for the support Leigh.

  • What a fantastic post! I've never smoked so I can only imagine how hard it must be to give up. However you sound extremely determined and focused and it's great to hear how C25K is giving you drive to do this. Congratulations and keep posting your progress.

  • Thanks very much Eleanor, it's an entirely nonsensical addiction - it's no wonder they're taxed so much! C25K is a great motivator. Well done on graduating!

  • Hello! I'm a smoker... I'm on wk6. I thought the c25k might also help me stop smoking. Of course it doesn't. I'm the only person who can do that. Quitting is a bit like running for me.. a mental thing. Just gotta decide to do it. Well done you. Running And quitting . Big congrats

  • I would never have listened to anyone telling me to quit. It needs to be a conscious decision that only you can make. What I would like to say is that it's not as difficult as others would have you believe. I know I've only just stopped and that everyone is different, but it's just a matter of occupying yourself during those times when you usually light up. Well done for managing week 6 whilst smoking! I'm dreading week 5, especially run 3 😣 Thanks for the reply!

  • First of all,very well done. You've already accomplished a great deal. Quitting smoking AND starting training and getting a serious diet plan on the go all at once. That's epic.

    I'm an ex smoker too. But my advice on quitting is terrible, because I've quit multiple times. Quitting is easy. Staying off is the hard part. To that end, I gave up giving up and reached a compromise. I allow myself to smoke between Christmas and new year, but quit again before returning to work in the new year. It's terrible advice, but that's what I do.

    Now for a word of warning. Don't worry, it's a good thing, as long as you keep it in mind.

    I started martial arts training while still a smoker. The breathing hindrance you've observed was my limiting factor. Ie I'd get out of breath before my muscles really fatigued. Sounds bad, but I found it could have been an advantage. Once I quit, very rapidly my vo2max (aerobic capacity) increased rapidly, not through rapid fitness gains, but simply because my lungs started to clear. Sounds good. Except in my new found breathing ability, I was now able to push my then unfit muscles a lot harder and for longer. That's when I started a run of annoying injuries.

    So the thing I'd advise is, as your lungs clear and you find brand new huge loads of energy that you've never had in as long as you can remember, by all means use that energy for fun, but don't get carried away with it and start breaking yourself.

  • Thanks MrDecrepit for the fantastic insight! I don't plan on doing much other than following the programme at a steady pace for now, and I'm still 5 weeks from finishing. Hopefully by the time I graduate I have a more accurate judgement of my capabilities, but in the mean time, I'll be careful not to exceed my usual limits. Time will tell how successfull I am with quitting, how hard did you find the first week in comparison to thereafter? I've been fine so far, the only really troubling moments are when I wake up and after dinner. You could do a lot worse than have a few packs over the Christmas period, well done for staying away for the redt of the year!

  • I think the first week is always the hardest, but there will be times after that when you really want a smoke. It's all about breaking down the mental associations between event / smoke.

    For example, even now several years since I've been a smoker (Christmas aside), I still sometimes go for my baccy if I'm sat enjoying a pint in the sunshine. Then I remember I have no baccy because I don't smoke. I still get a bit of a pang when that happens.

  • Good on you for starting C25K and for stopping smoking.

    I'm in a similar boat. You'll did as you go through the programme that you won't want to smoke. The idea will disgust you... think about all that beautiful fresh air you inhale when you're running. If you smoked, it would be different.

    Keep it up.

  • Another ex-smoker to frown and shake their heads at smokers lol. I've never been fit, hated exercise even at school (very long time ago) but 5 years ago I decided I was going to stop smoking and generally get a bit healthier. So I packed up, joined SW and started 30 Day Shred all within 2 weeks of each other. Best thing I ever did! I lost weight and inches and now at 46 I am in the best shape of my life and healthier than I've ever been. I'm starting week 6 in the morning and never thought in a million years I would be running and with hubby who is an ex 40 a day smoker! He vapes now but that's much better. Well done you for committing to a healthier life choice, keep it up and don't give into any cravings. Good luck πŸ‘πŸ˜Š

  • Wow check you out! Slimming world, running and now quitting smoking! What a threesome, you're amazing and inspirational πŸ‘πŸ˜€

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