Couch to 5K
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How to maintain motivation during a run?

Hi all, I graduated from C25K in November, and continue to run 5k 3 times a week (I want to consolidate and run better/faster not further). I have no problem getting out to run but struggle for the first 10mins or so and the negative voices kick in telling me to stop so sometimes I do for a minute or so before resuming. What’s the best way to maintain motivation during a run? Thanks!

14 Replies

I think of what made me take up running in the first place. There's my motivation.


Those first ten minutes will always be hard. Accept this and embrace it.

The reason it is hard is mainly because you are going from a nice walk to suddenly sliding through the gears and expecting your body to crack on. Imagine starting a car on a cold day, you need to warm it up before it starts running smoothly.

So to counter this your heart starts beating faster and your lungs start gulping for air. Their aim is to get enough oxygen into your body to compensiate the new higher, energy demands you require from your body.

Your brain now sensesing this effort will start to find plenty of ways to stop you from carrying on and sends the gremlins out to tell you why you cannot carry on.

After about ten minutes or so your heart and lungs have got the oxygenated blood flowing nicely around your body and are both now able to settle back into a much slower rthythm (unless you start running faster that is). At this point you start to feel nice and comfortable in your run.

The gremlins - too lazy - largely give up at this point.

As for getting better and faster. Firstly don't try to be fast every run, it will wear you down and lead to injury - one fast run out of three is fine. Secondly, learn to pace yourself. I found I was quicker overall if I went slower at the beginning. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I found that going a minute per mile slower in the first miel gave me more in the tank at the later stages, and I was finishing strongly rather than hanging on. I now try to run an even paced run so I am finishing just as fast as I start.


As Whatsapp has said, take those first 8 to 10 mins slowly while you take the oxygen you need on board, then you wilk feel the difference and relax into your run. It won't make that much difference to your stats because you will have more left in the tank for later.

If you sometimes do a shorter run, change your route it keeps it fresh and interesting..

Happy running.😊 x


Thanks so much, that’s really helpful thinking about the physiological impact. Also I do tend to start a little fast and slow down... will try the opposite next time!


ive joined a running group that helps with the longer runs having someone to plod along with and maybe chat too :D if your u for that , that is , happy running x


You have to be stronger to run faster. slow runs build legs so don’t rule out running further. It’s a natural progression

I run on the trails generally and there is always something new to see so I never get fed up. I take my fave tunes and always Sami Murphy podcasts

Even if you are running in town there’s something to look at. I can run and window shop 😃


Brilliant, thanks all! Will also try mixing it up a bit....


Obviously, squats will help :-) Apparently squats are the answer to everything (thanks Rignold).

The psychology and physiology have been explained above. So, always start a run by running deliberately slowly. Don't think about pace or speed, just get off to a pleasant amble. Without any conscious effort, you'll find that you are naturally running at a suitable pace after 5-10 minutes, even though you started off running more slowly.

Then, once you're going, break the run down into sections. "I will run at a faster pace until I get to that lamppost ahead". "I'm going to ease up a bit until I cross that shadow on the road". "Keep going until I get to that drain-cover". Find a mantra to repeat in your head. Or count steps (keep going until I get to one hundred - <one, two three four>, <two two three four>, <three two three four>, ... <ninety-nine two three four>...) Now that you can run, it's all mind games.


You should try the c25k+ podcasts, they will definitely help with speed. Also if your getting bored, you should try parkrun at least once. It adds a whole new dimension to running.

Also to avoid the dreaded toxic ten minutes. Try doing a short ten minute run before your actual run. That way your actual run will feel great :)


Why not set an initial target of say 12-15 mins to get you past the "toxic 10" min period? Then the gremlins will be silenced up to that first milestone after which they may not make an appearance at all (they know you're not going to listen to them before smashing the target and then they slither away as you get into your stride anyway).


Great suggestions, everyone, thank you! Already looking forward to my run on Wednesday....


Aaah yes the initial 10 minute toil! I got given the same advice as you’ve been given and to know that there is a scientific reason behind feeling like poop for that first 10/15 mins helped me immensely, when I start running I just tell myself “ah yes, this is to be expected and it will pass”! Happy running :-)


Thanks to everyone who responded to my query. I am delighted to report I did my 5k at a steady pace this morning, only added a couple of mins to my usual 30 and not a gremlin in sight! Really enjoyed it.

1 like

The best advice I got was from the_tea_fairy who told me to repeat the mantra 'This is what you came for'. Today I also switched playlists from my usual gym one and found it a good change of pace. (My pace did not actually change as this was a treadmill run, but my attitude did which helped it feel as if my pace did).


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