Tips on settling in? : (Thought I'd share a... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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Tips on settling in?


(Thought I'd share a photo of what I affectionately(ish) call the Rocky steps which greet me at the end of each run even though it's not really related to the post)

Hiya guys. I'm looking for a bit of advice. I completed the first run of week 8 today and while I'm really happy to have got so far, I haven't felt comfortable running since about W6R3. I don't think it's physical though, I think it's something psychological which is stopping me from settling in quickly. I'm not sure if anyone else has this problem, but even in the first 5 minutes, the doubts set in: is this pace too fast, will I make it to the end, and so on. The thing is though, I know I have found my comfortable pace but when I finally become conscious of running a stretch without paying attention to breathing, pace or stamina, then poof! the carefree feeling disappears in a shot!

I could do with a button to switch my mind off when running and while I try concentrating to my music, I thought I'd seek your thoughts too to see if there's anything else I could/should be doing 🙂.

34 Replies

A run only feels good when it's not observed? It all sounds very quantum to me. 😉

PnegirlGraduate in reply to nowster

Very true. I'll try to let go a bit more to see if the magic happens lol

The first 5-10 minutes of a run are hard and that's when -as you say - the doubt sets in. I was looking for an explanation of why, and came across this:

"When you start to run your muscles need extra oxygen but your body is not set up to increase the supply immediately. For the first few minutes of a race [or any run] you develop oxygen debt as you use more energy than aerobic systems can supply. It is only when oxygen in the blood has been depleted significantly and levels of carbon dioxide have risen that your brain senses these changes and sends instructions to set things straight. At that point you will begin to breathe harder and your heart will pump more strongly. But by then , besides having to meet the demands of your continued movement, you also have to repay the oxygen debt and clear the lactic acid that has accumulated. This takes time, and so the first couple of miles of any run can be rough." - from someone called Mike Stroud, who is apparently a doctor & a polar explorer.

I know what you mean about the psychological side of things - the little niggling voices telling you that's enough, you can't do anymore, and all that. I've tried all sorts, mostly just trying to countermand the negative voices with positive ones: "just think about how amazing you'll feel when you don't give up", or the "I can run to the next lamppost, at least" (and then the next, and the next). The niggling doubts often don't stay long and, as you say, once you forget about it, you can run for a stretch without them being there.

I listen to podcasts as well. Something with a story, or something that makes me laugh, and has a dynamic to it, so that you start to lose yourself in that, rather than listening to the doubts in your head.

So good luck, well done - and don't worry about it, I think it happens to us all!

Yes! Oxygen debt! Which is why pushing yourself on your warm up to get your body working harder from the outset does wonders by the time you start to run 👍🏼 (Great share, thank you!)

PnegirlGraduate in reply to acountrycabbage

Hi CC, I saw one of your posts about this the other day and I pinched that tip haha! I've been swift but also scared of working too hard in the warm up walk but maybe that's the answer 🙂

acountrycabbageGraduate in reply to Pnegirl

I know what you mean. I think it was Admin Ian that I first saw mention it and then some further reading further explained how it will help throughout your run. Let us know how you get on next time 🙂

PnegirlGraduate in reply to TortoiseRegretsHare

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this response and if Mike Stroud is a polar explorer, that's good enough for me 😂. Thanks for the encouragement and the reassurance too.


Ouch those steps 😱 I think yes it’s prob psychological. I feel similar. I don’t enjoy first 12 mins or so as worrying about finishing, pace, breathing but after a while I listen to my music and look around (today I was marvelling at the people swimming in the reservoir) and maybe even take some rubbish pics and then I feel like I could go on. It’s sooooooo weird.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to Ruby68

It really is. I can't explain why in some bits I zone out and then in others I become so conscious of things... There's definitely no ignoring those steps though haha!

I think what nowster said about observing was spot on .

I also think you deserve a gold star for getting up those steps , I’d be in a heap not half way up 😂🥵

I think we all have issues with overthinking as we try to progress through . So many posts ( mine included) about music,playlists, all with the purpose of taking our minds of the run .

For me it was only ever one thing (pace) , Luckily I seemed to complete each run so I didn’t have any experience of not finishing to worry over etc.

I spent my whole working life ( semi retired now) developing a ‘reflective practise’ . I congratulated myself for getting quite good at it actually 😂😂

I find now I have to get less good at it because I can if let loose overthink everything and that includes 3 or 25 minutes of running too !

I think the answer for me was to not stop thinking but to manage what I was thinking about . I knew I should be taking in the beautiful scenery more , ( I know I’m lucky to have lovely coastal things to look at ) but everyone must have sky, light, birdsong, etc it doesn’t have to be sweeping landscapes.

So I did try and switch to that but wasn’t entirely successful .

I tried so many motivational playlists that worked for me in terms of takin* my mind off the time of the run but still the ‘ I think this is too fast ‘ or ‘ this is is too slow I’m sure I’m barely lifting my feet ‘ continued .

It’s only in my last two runs that I have gotten my steady pace cracked 👌

I think I said in a previous post that on wk7 R3 I was feeling quite fed up and unenthusiastic , didn’t pore over a playlist and just popped an album on that I’d forgotten about .

I really really focused in the first five minutes on going slow which I knew was my issue and then got lost in the lyrics because whilst I love music and a good uplifting beat etc . I do love a bit of poetry and for me lyrics are just like poetry set to music ....... so what happened was basically I switched my thinking entirely on to the lyrics .

Literally the only things in my mind were looking around at the sky, the sunrise and listening intently to what was being said in the songs .

I did exactly the same this morning for wk8 R1.

So I think I’ve found what works for me , to enable me to swap thinking about the ‘innards’ of the run onto something more interesting, uplifting or basically anything BUT the run 😂😂

So I know lyrics & poetry aren’t everyone’s cup of tea ,but I do feel for you ! My frustrations were getting me down last week .

But how about a podcast ? Current affairs, comedy or just something that might take hold of your mind instead of the running issues .

Sorry this post is so long winded but I feel I’ve had my eureka moment and today held onto to it 👌 so there will be one for you too .

Never forget too YOU RAN 28 minutes AND GOT UP THOSE STEPS 😲😲😂😂

Woop woop! 🌟

PnegirlGraduate in reply to RacingintheStreet

Thanks so much racinginthestreet for this response. You are spot on about the reflective practitioner training and how much it almost reprogrammes the way we think. I've only never not finished once and that was in week 4 so that's the positive message I start each run with, ie. that I completed the run before, so I can complete this one too. I like the suggestion of changing what I focus on though. I do laps of a sportsfield so while I appreciate the scenery, it is the same each lap haha. I'm not sure I have the confidence to go 'off-piste' yet though but I'm fine with that for now. I think if it continues, I might try a podcast as that seems a common suggestion but fingers crossed I have my eureka moment soon too...and if not, I'll just soldier on till I do 😁


I was talking to a seasoned runner the other day. This guy has ran half and full marathons. He says he still actually hates the first 10 mins of running even after all these years.

Ruby68Graduate in reply to PMcL1966

Wow that’s so interesting 😱

PnegirlGraduate in reply to PMcL1966

That's actually reassuring to know. I have a friend who has ran for years and she has been really supportive but admitted she doesn't particularly enjoy running; it's the feeling afterwards she does it for. Thanks for replying 🙂

Ruby68Graduate in reply to Pnegirl

Can so identify with that and also the energy for rest of the day and the lovely sleep that night 🥳

PnegirlGraduate in reply to Ruby68

Do you know what, you're so right about it setting you up for the day and better sleep. Two byproducts I wasn't expecting but which have been very welcomed 🙂


One of my run routes starts with a warm up walk up a hill about double the height of those steps! My watch usually says I've done my stair climb for the day by the time I hit the summit.

Another route ends with a steep hill to walk up for the cool down.

The disadvantages of living in a place that's hilly.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to nowster

Wow! I take my metaphorical hat off to you. That's brilliant! You should have seen my face though in week one when I'd forgotten I had to get back to street level hahaha 😱


You can see from the other replies here that you’re by no means alone. I often find the first part of a run hard, psychologically as well as physically, but by about 10-15 minutes or so I seem to be able to relax and enjoy it, even to the extent of running uphill somewhat in the second half.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to BradC

Yes, you're right. That's what I love about this group; just when you think you're the only one struggling with something, everyone is there to reassure and offer lovely advice or encouragement. It's just so odd that I know I've found my pace even though my mind is telling me I haven't. I know it's not about stats at this stage but I've been consistent for the last few weeks so I just need to block out or refocus the nagging doubts. Thank you for replying!


The more effective your warm-up, the better you'll feel at the start of your run.

My warm-ups for outdoor runs are virtually non-existent (bad boy - do as I say, not as I do!), and so my runs always feel a bit crappy to begin with.

On the treadmill however, I ALWAYS, RELIGIOUSLY, start with a minimum of a 3 minute BRISK walk (6.8 km/h) - and that first 5 or 10 minutes feels completely different to outdoors - much much better.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to John_W

I replied to acountrycabbage before about the warm up and I think I need to put a bit more into it. Though I've been fairly brisk, I think I need to push just that little bit more. I was just always worried about overdoing it but I now see that it doesn't quite work that way. It's things like this I suppose new runners like me pick up along the way. Thanks for the advice 🙂

John_WAmbassador in reply to Pnegirl

The warm-up is literally meant to make you warm. If you literally haven't warmed up, you haven't done it properly.

Walk as far as you dare for 5-10 mins - that should do it.


This might be an additional thing to worry about, but I try and concentrate on running posture and form if I find my mind starting to panic. It takes a good minute of tweaking or focusing on my form and I find usually I forget about the niggles and worries I had.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to f1madman

Thanks f1madman! I do look out for any tension creeping into my shoulders and where I land on my feet but you're right about finding something to take my mind off things. Hopefully I'll crack it very soon 🙂

Oh Pnegirl, I feel you! I’m sure many of us wish we could turn off that part of our brain.

Are you a perfectionist? That pulls me up. The amount of times I’ve found myself wanting every step/movement to be ‘correct’ in order to not fail.

I’d suggest the important part, first and foremost is putting faith in yourself. With every run ticked off, you’re proving yourself and over time, your head will catch up to your body. But think ahead of the game - tell your run gremlins NOW - they can come along for the ride, but you’re going to smash this programme with your stamina and determination whether they like it or not.

As my recent posts suggest I’ve gradually become more comfortable with what I’m achieving and #thisgirlcan is starting to resonate and it feels like.. it now belongs in my vocabulary 👊🏼💥😊 Whenever the gremlins appear I imagine having a baseball bat and I bash the thoughts out the park!

To obliterate the ‘Will I make it to the end’ worries, just go as slow as you possibly can to start. Think about conserving as much energy as possible. I’ve found my ‘settled in’ pace has arrived sooner since I’ve been pushing hard on my warm up. It takes me 10 mins to get to my running routes and I’ve started walking like those nutters on tv in a walking race. Try it! Let your body know what it’s in for and again, your head should catch up.

I think the pure, carefree feeling is a wiley beast that even pros don’t manage to find every time. Again, I’m just keeping faith. I’m going to keep on enjoying the journey and hopefully the more comfortable and natural running feels, the more carefree vibes will flow.

Keep doing your thing, you’re doing brilliantly 🌟

PnegirlGraduate in reply to acountrycabbage

I replied underneath but got some reason it didn't link to your comment 🙂


I got part-way down your comment and started writing the first part of my response. Am I a perfectionist? My god, you've hit the nail on the head hahaha! Anyone who knows me would agree! I know about all the hangups this can cause but they are not always easy to ignore.

I love your attitude about just taking the run by the scruff of the neck and telling your body and gremlins that this run is happening regardless. I think I might just be able to do that! Thanks so much for this tip and the reminder about the importance of a strong warm up! 😁

acountrycabbageGraduate in reply to Pnegirl

That was a good guess, wasn’t it? 😉

Couldn’t agree more. I think failure is extra hard and dumbfounding for perfectionists because - surely we did everything perfectly - so how did we end up here??

In the past few months I have come up with some affirmations that are up in my bathroom to read as I brush my teeth first thing. One of them is ‘I strive for progress, not perfection’

It’s a slow process but the words certainly sink into my conscience more readily when I’m squirrelling away on a task. Running included.

Some days the inner voice will still win 👎🏼 though recently, trusting that the feeling(s) will pass is enough to get me through.

Onwards we go! 🙌🏼


Well done for completing the run. I struggle at the beginning of runs as I have asthma and my legs are often aching from the previous run. However, what has changed for me is my mental strength. I believe what it takes to negotiate these runs and improve distance and speed is getting used to the idea of a degree of physical discomfort. Now when my lungs start struggling or my legs are aching as I run uphill I accept it as part of the run. When my lungs are tricky I take in controlled deep breaths and when my legs ache I tell myself that they are strong and have stamina. I no longer think that I’m not going to make it.

I completed the last run of Week 8 this morning and it was my strongest run yet because I now have certainty that I’ll finish whatever happens. I also know that I have 8 weeks of fitness in my legs and that I have run 28 minutes (29 this morning) a few times now and I can do it, even if I feel a bit wheezy or I’m coughing or my legs are aching. I have also sped up a bit in the warm up walk (only a bit, not crazy fast walking) and then I always start the first few minutes running very slowly. This combination increases stamina I’ve found.

You’re doing great. Just work on your mental strength by telling yourself that nothing can derail you and enjoy the music while you’re running as this will make the whole thing easier.

PnegirlGraduate in reply to Dodgylungs

Thanks Dodgylungs for your reply. You're doing so well with your runs and I need to take a leaf out of your book and just tell myself that I can do it and can get to the end no matter what

DodgylungsGraduate in reply to Pnegirl

Yea it’s all about mental strength in the end. You can do it. You are doing it!

I find that motivation comes a while after the event has started. I find the first part of many activities underwhelming. It’s when I stop analysing my every thought that I tend to relax. I think I’m trying to say go with the flow. Don’t force anything. The enjoyment and motivation will just happen when you relax.

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