Advice welcomed from those who have beaten the... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Advice welcomed from those who have beaten the gremlins


So, the thing that is halting my running progress is, without a doubt, my gremlins. Does anyone have advice on just how you beat them? My run today was ok - I'm not beating myself up about it because I've been ill - but I firmly believe it's my mind that is the problem, not my actual fitness. I plan to start aiming for a 10k once I've got the next two weeks (triathlon) out of the way and I believe my body, with the correct training programme, is capable of 10k. BUT, in order to do this I have to strengthen my mind! I don't get it - professionally I've achieved everything I've ever set my mind to but running.............not so!

26 Replies

I've never had much of a problem with running gremlins but they visit frequently in other areas of my life (you can have some of my running life if I can have some of your professional one). I swear at them. A lot. And apparently, it's ok:


I dont have the answer as i have plenty of the pesky little gremlins also. You've completed 5k , your doing triathlons (wow!) And your where you set out in your professional life and on top of that your helping and encouraging newbies (me for one!). Like i say i dont have the answer but im certain you will find it!

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to K311y33

Thank you - it's only a novice triathlon - nothing major! I hate those gremlins!

K311y33Graduate in reply to RebeccaSK

Novice or not your still doing it! Nobody needs to see me in a swim suit just yet , ill let them get over the fright of me in running leggings first lol , it is definitely something id like to attempt later down the line though , so please post or update so we can see how you get on

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to K311y33

There are great mini-triathlons called go-tri. They're organised by local triathlon groups on behalf of British Triathlon so people can have a taste of what they're like. I did one last week - an aquathlon - swim 200m run 3.4km or 5km. They're great because they're aimed at beginners so really friendly and supportive. Have a look -


If you're on Facebook!

K311y33Graduate in reply to RebeccaSK

Thank you! I am on facebook so i will take a look! I no dad wants a new challenge but not distance as he has steriod injections at mo in his hip to hult of replacement , altho he got a pb at park run today of 24.47! I couldnt even dream that time lol! Thanks again will look into it

K311y33Graduate in reply to K311y33

It wouldnt let me follow link but gave me an address , im only in Southampton so this is literally a few miles up the road , gonna have a gander , thanks rebecca

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to K311y33

If you google Go Tri you will find the main website and I think you can search for events closer to home. Probably not too many as it's coming to the end of summer but you may find something. You could always just volunteer to marshal if you wanted to check it out! I highly recommend - mine wasn't at all competitive, just really friendly

Do you set yourself high standards in your professional life and always achieve them if so try using that to push the gremlins away. I can't tell you how I banished mine because I never really suffered with them I always go out with the attitude I will succeed and I only ever run within my capabilities and I find if I know my limits I seldom go wrong.


I don't subscribe to the gremlin school of thought.....let's admit it, they don't exist!! It is the first step to schizophrenia!!!

I do believe that we all constantly question our own motivations and decisions in all areas of our lives, especially in those aspects that are new or strange to us, about which we lack the confidence with which we normally tackle everyday tasks.

Sometimes this internal voice....our own internal voice......may be helpful, perhaps in pointing out the lack of wisdom of an impending action or decision we are about to make. This could just be an innate self preservation system to stop us jumping off a cliff, putting our hand in the fire or some other physically harmful intention.

The other side of it though, is the part that develops from our socialisation, our families, communities and our world experience and the self image that we build from those influences. Here, many forces are at work on us from birth, generating a need to conform to the norms of the groups within which we live, unless we are willing to confront and challenge them, which many do in their teens, only to accept another set of norms as part of their rebellion.

So what has this to do with your question, Rebecca? Well, I think that you have made a brave decision to do C25k as well as a triathlon, and I have read about those who inspired you to do this. However, I suspect that you have not quite changed your own view of yourself, in light of your recent amazing feats. I wonder whether you really, deep down, think of yourself as a runner.

We do. Your grit and determination to get to graduation, when things were not at all easy for you, was a joy to see for us old hands, who now live our lives vicariously through the successes of the likes of you. Please believe are a runner. Believe in a runner. When some little voice pops up with some kind of negativity (it happens to ALL of us), just shake your head and ignore it. You know it makes sense.

You've moved on!!

helenwheelsGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

You got there before me Iannoda, if only I were a faster typer!

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

I may be wrong - and am happy to be corrected - but I think gremlins are much more a woman thing than a man thing. Men are much better when it comes to self belief and self confidence. If you look at extreme athletes, so many more of them are male - there is no female equivalent to Bear Grylls that I'm aware of.

I do not, absolutely do not, see myself as a runner. When I have been running for years, maybe I will. I run, but I'm not a runner. I think I'm very bad at looking at myself realistically. Instead of looking at all the people who couldn't run for 30 minutes and giving myself a pat on the back because I can, I look at those who can run for an hour and wonder why I can't.

For my run tomorrow I am going to give Stepping Stones a try - let's see how that goes!

IannodaTruffeAdministrator in reply to RebeccaSK

You need to adjust your self image. You are definitely a runner, Rebecca and believing that will help you ignore those voices from your former life, as a non runner, which you are still giving credence to.

Find something to occupy your brain while running to limit the space that the gr.......ahem, voices, muscle into. Compose a run report for the forum, listen to a podcast of something of interest to you. Play your favourite music and muse on why you like it so much. Describe the scenery to yourself or put the world to rights. Forget about time and distance and enjoy the physical sensations rather than struggle against them.

You run, you are a runner.


Hey Rebecca, you are doing really well, so why not celebrate that? You have graduated and it sounds like you are doing great with 5k and triathlon prep. Remember what we tell the newbies - one step at a time, and I'm sure that's how your 10k preps will be.

PS if it helps, my gremlins are back too, with a slightly niggly calf strain. But despite almost giving in to them this morning I still managed a new Parkrun PB. I think we should both consolidate and celebrate how far we have come 😊

Only advice I can offer is when you see those gremlins, mentally take a deep breath and a good aim and kick those little blighters as hard as you can into the depths of nowhere... You can and will beat them!!!!!


IannodaTruffe gives great advice.... positivity and self belief are such powerful allies...

Not, can I? But, I can. Not will I, but I will.... easy to say, hard to do. You are, without doubt a runner.... we know that, but you have to know it... you have to believe it...

You are stronger than you think you are...follow the 10K programme... it is possible... it is achievable...

" The question isn't who is going to let you do it. it's who is going to stop you" And that is you!


You are doing so well, well done, I have these gremlins also (thoughts in my head) on most runs but .... And its a big but I just tell myself harshly I AM going to do this its almost a battle I have with my will to do it and my mind telling me no!! Carry on ...beat those thoughts you will do it, listen to the very good advice that everyone gives you and you will achieve your dreams xx😀


Yes gremlins are hard and you have the upper hand already as you've recognised that you DO have the ability. So- my advice:

1. Get a mantra- I have a few, but my favourite is still, ' I'm strong, I'm a panther,' and also, 'slow and steady wins the race,' just say it over and over and shout it too ( I do)

2. Before a run... don't even allow them mind space- just do it. I am on a running streak, and every day I start the conversations in my head with my unhelpful ' friend'. When that happens, I just go, and if I'm still at work etc I say, I am going to run at 18.30. I'm not going to think about it till I do it. BOOM 💥 I'm on day 223 today, so it does work.

3. There are times when you need to rest etc. So rather than allow your gremlin to get the better of you when you are tired ( so they become correct and then you start to believe them) you take a recovery week... every 4 weeks works for me...

I waffled a bit there, you get the gist tho... this is a fave topic of mine as I have much experience!!!!


Hi Rebecca

Oh yes those Gremlins.... I'm not sure for that for me thinking about this problem as 'gremlins' really helps. I know some people feel that visualising and externalising this phenomena enables them to imagine thwacking the gremlin and running over it's head and that really assists, which is great!

For me though, I recognise Gremlins as being negative cognitions that arise out of beliefs formed during early life experiences and reinforced by our subsequent experiences and our thinking habits.

So it may be that you know that you are good and competent in your professional life. Maybe you were clever at school and received lots of positive messages about your ability from teachers and parents. If something goes wrong at work you are likely to perceive this as a temporary glitch; to think 'nobody's perfect' and carry on. Your 'cognitive bias' is helpful in this setting.

However when it comes to running, you have maybe not had the same positive messages. Perhaps you weren't picked first for the running teams. I think many PE teachers were focussed on the talented kids, leaving the rest of us thinking "I'm no good at running". I think that girls particularly are put off as teenagers and (when I was young) the cool girls were not necessarily the sporty ones. Society has not always encouraged women to see being strong, sweaty and muddy as attractive - I really hope that has changed and my daughters seem to have a much healthier attitude to fitness than I did at their age.

Anyway, what I am saying is that it is your negative beliefs about your ability as a runner, that is being expressed in those (gremlin) negative thoughts. This in turn triggers a whole load of negative associations, memories and anxieties. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, unless you fight back!!

So when the thought pops into your head, notice it and maybe label it a "negative thought". It comes from inside your head and just because you have the thought, that doesn't mean it's true. Ask yourself 'what is the evidence for that thought?', Look at your achievements over the past few weeks and challenge it. If it helps, watch the thought as you visualise it floating away attached to a balloon, or put it in a box and watch it travel down a conveyer belt, and off the end.

It may be helpful to notice when these negative cognitions come into play, are there particular times, circumstances or runs that trigger these thought patterns?

Have some positive self talk at the ready, encourage yourself and give yourself a pat on the back when you have done well. Focus on the successes rather than the failures. When things seem to go wrong, notice the things that went right and concentrate on what you have learned from a challenging situation.

Oh, and enjoy the running, if doubts are creeping in try and focus on your body; the immediate sensations or your surroundings. Distraction (loud music, an audio book, running with a friend, making a shopping list etc....) is also helpful to drown out those negative voices.

Now, I just need to go and follow my own advice......:)

IannodaTruffeAdministrator in reply to helenwheels


helenwheelsGraduate in reply to IannodaTruffe

For some reason your post didn't come up on my laptop earlier, so I wrote mine. I could've saved myself quite a lot of time by just agreeing with you! :)

RebeccaSKGraduate in reply to helenwheels

Your reply affected me profoundly. I don't prescribe to the approach (frequently adopted by American psychiatrists in films) that all our fears and inadequacies stem from our childhood. However, some of the things you say didn't just strike a chord, they set off a Big Ben size bell in my head! Strangely, however, it wasn't quite as you may imagine. I was really good at sport at school (not running but netball, basketball, hockey, high jump, long jump, cricket even........but I was not popular so, no matter how good I was, when it came to peers selecting their peers, I was never chosen.........and not until the moment I read your reply did I realise how this affected me. thank you - I have no idea what you do for a job but you should be a counsellor. This evening I ran my run for me. It was an amazing run!

helenwheelsGraduate in reply to RebeccaSK

Thank you for your reply Rebecca, I am glad I helped you :)

So YOU went out and YOU did the run and YOU smashed it. Well done :)

The kids on the forum think you are cool and we are picking you to be in our team!

GillmaGraduate in reply to helenwheels


You did the run well done you, after all with viruses and time off work. That's no fun. And the inner gremlins, mmmm difficult, I encountered a lot of NLP training in a previous life and found it fascinating.

IannodaTruffe has something really interesting to say. I think you are a runner, I think you are a fab runner, I think you are a triathlete, I also think you're a brilliant advert for this programme. I think you are a very inspiring person all round. Look at all these messages, how could you not believe in them? Build your own mind to5k programme, to put your head in the right place.

GillmaGraduate in reply to Jancanrun

'Mind to 5k' - love it!

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