W6R3. Help. Dark Night of the Soul! - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K

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W6R3. Help. Dark Night of the Soul!


I'm doing this on a treadmill and did something today that I haven't even been tempted to do before - got 7 minutes into the run, hit the stop button and bailed out completely.

I wasn't in the mood, felt tired and breathless and really just couldn't be bothered. The real problem, though, is that this has been coming on for a while. I got through the dreaded W5R3 20 minutes, but it was hard work and I was gasping by the end of it. Each run this week has just been a drag. My big worry is that with the longer runs I'm just starting to find it really......boring .

I know using a treadmill doesn't help, but I'm using it for good reason. The road I live on isn't great (single track, unlit, popular rat run for drivers) and I know myself well enough to know that if I have to drive anywhere to run I'll give up eventually. Also, I know myself well enough to know that I would use bad weather as an excuse and end up not running over the winter. Hence the treadmill.

Everybody posting here seems so positive about it, so I feel bad saying that I find it dull. Has anybody else found this? More to the point, has anybody else gone through a phase of finding it dull, but got through it and started to enjoy it again? I'd love to hear from you!

33 Replies

I find that the running bit is OK at best.But the exhilaration after finishing is the best.

You may have to bite the bullet and drive to a better place to run.

Unlike the treadmill you go at your own pace without knowing what pace you're doi. You don't have to look at digits on a screen

Can you run with a friend?

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Rennur

It's a good point about knowing your pace. I do run very slowly, but it is quite a mental block to slow down from my 'normal' speed if I'm struggling because I have to press a button to do it. I think perhaps you are right about driving out to run, as well. Even if I only do it occasionally and use the treadmill most of the time it will mix things up a bit.

Great advice. Thanks for replying!

nowsterGraduate in reply to BellaTheCook

What sort of speed/pace have you set the treadmill to do for running?

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to nowster

Depends. On a good day it is about 5mph (keep meaning to reset it to kmph for the purpose of this exercise), reducing to about 4.5mph when I get knackered!

nowsterGraduate in reply to BellaTheCook

5.0mph ⇒ 7½min/km (approx)

4.5mph ⇒ 8¼min/km (approx)

You might find it better to start at the slower speed rather than knackering yourself immediately.

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to nowster

Yeah, I started today's long run at 4.7mph, but it was never going to happen! I think the treadmill does actually make it harder to slow down, but I will make more of an effort. Thanks.


The same thing happened to me, W8R2. Got 7 minutes into the run and just couldn't go any further. Sometimes it just happens for no apparent reason. And that was running outside - hats off to you for running on a dreadmill - I don't know how you manage to do it, I think the monotony would drive me mad!

Could you listen to music, or audio books, or set up a tablet so you could watch something while you run? You're 2/3 of the way through, you can't give up now!

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Tartancat

I usually listen to music. For the first time today I listened to a spoken podcast. Couldn't hear it very well even on full volume (what can I say? Getting old!) so will probably go back to music in the future. Anyway, good to hear that I'm not the only one to crash out unexpectedly. Thanks for the response.

Oh totally yes. I got bored running outside around week 5/6. Remember motivation isn't going to be same throughout. It'll be up and down day to day.

Ways I combatted the drops in motivation was being accountable. Telling someone else that I was due to complete the run helped me stop finding excuses. Change up the tracks you're listening to. I've found surprisingly that music doesn't work for me. Instead I prefer podcasts.

It's perfectly normal to go through periods of low motivation, just got to find fun ways. If you're into zombies try the zombie run app. Hope this helps :)

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Keeprunningrunning

Oooh. I'll definitely try that. Thank you!

I just now completed Week 6 Run 3. I also find running pretty boring but tonight was the first time I listened to a podcast, a Ricky Gervais one to be exact. The run flew by! I was more focused on listening to a pod than I do music so it took away the boredom of running. Definitely give a podcast a go!

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Matt__

Thanks. I definitely need to try mixing up my audio soundtrack. Tried a podcast for the first time today, partly because I knew I was getting bored. It clearly didn't work on this occasion, but I think the principal is a good one - I just need to cast around to find something suitable.

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to BellaTheCook

'Principle' not 'principal'. Doh!


I might not be the best responder here (posting positive things). However, my biggest worry as the longer runs started building was that I’d be bored. I liked the intervals, the variety. My first instinct was to fill the void with music. It was an interesting experience, but I realised this wasn’t right for me.

Thus began a quest for another approach, starting with a mindful running podcast I discovered online. Then I started ad libbing with any crazy idea I could invent, enjoying whatever was around me. I had a daft little project for each outing. Then a bunch of ‘older’ runners started cheering on the inner ‘gazelle’. It was all a bit tongue in cheek, but, bizarrely, it worked to play ‘think gazelle’. And to giggle.

These experiments all worked. Much of this was, I think, down to a mind-switch: deciding to embrace the ‘boredom’, to let the mind drift, to love looking (at anything), to talk inwardly or out loud, and not spend time fretting about physical discomforts.... or just observing them. Deciding to go at everything playfully and experimentally, even ridiculously. I thought these would just be temporary entertainment, but I’ve been totally surprised at their transformative power. Admittedly I have the advantage of running safely outside, but in principle all these ideas could be done indoors on a treadmill.

I definitely get the not wanting any transportation to be the precondition of running. That’s so like me.

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to GailXrunning

Haha! Love the creativity of that approach. I wonder if I simply am not yet ready to move on to longer runs, as I find it too knackering to really try out those sorts of suggestions. I think I may go back a week and re-do some interval runs, trying to be a bit more playful, as you suggest. Thanks for the response.

GailXrunningGraduate in reply to BellaTheCook

Whatever you decide do, just try to have some fun too!

I set a dvd machine and would put on 1/2 comedy programme , one I had usually seen before so if I missed the odd word doesn’t matter, plug in headphones and would always want to run to end of the programme

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Hunters1

That's a good idea. I've tried TV and sometimes it works and sometimes not, but I think watching something I'm very familiar with might help. Thanks!


I use a treadmill which is set at MPH and your set speed looks a bit fast to me. I am about to go into my last week and go at 4.4 and increase to 5.0 when Sarah tells me I have 5 minutes left and then go up to 6.0 for the last minute if I can. I would crash and burn at well before 7 minutes at the speeds you have managed, so well done for doing it! I have a “Run” song list but my mind wanders and I quite enjoy that - was mentally buying Christmas presents during yesterday’s run! Keep going - as someone else said, the reward is the end of the run!

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Fleur1307

That is interesting. Perhaps I've been coming at it the wrong way round - starting at a higher speed then slowing down when I get tired. Perhaps the right approach is to try and preserve energy more, then use that energy up at the end. Actually, it's pretty obvious when I put it like that 😂. Thank you for making me see sense!

Hi Bella, I have experienced that "Don't feel like doing this at all" and gave up. Read my story and what I am going to say will make sense. At my age my body screamed at me to stop many times and made all the excuses why I should not run but I also knew that if I didn't complete my runs I would feel a terrible failure. I could not cope with that. The battles were within me I had to know whether I was capable of running for 30mins. and later to run the actual 5K . In my case it was a mental blockage I had to overcome and thankfully I did. Now I jog at my own pace and love it, some times outside (weather permitting) and others on the treadmill, the benefits to my breathing and body are the same. You will find all these lovely people on this site are rooting for you they have all had their ups and downs. Good luck Bella.

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Newbirunner

Thanks for sharing your experience. In general, like you, I have managed to stick with it even when I've been struggling, which is why I was so despondent at just giving up yesterday almost without intending to. It was as though a switch had flicked in my head that just meant I couldn't have taken another step.

However, the fantastic responses I've had here are making me feel a bit more kind towards myself. I had one bad day. So what?!

I finished c25k running on the road and then carried on but switched to treadmill running when I was in 14 days isolation. I found it much easier on the joints - no more need to strap up or medicate with volterole. My treadmill is just inside my garage door so I open up and get a sense of running outdoor but no wind, rain, terrain to negotiate. My mantra (whatever stage of running I am at) is ‘I managed it before so I can do it today’ but that might mean I’m a bit slower or might feel more knackered but I know if I’ve managed it before I can do it again. It’s taken me 7 months and for the first time yesterday I ran for 32 minutes without checking the time!! I was made up ! I find I need a big range of stimulation -different podacasts, live radio, I’ve made 12 run lists of songs that last for 30-35 minutes each list, Netflix shows. I never know what I’m going to listen to until I’m on the treadmill, occasionally I run in silence which is also quite good. I always cover the screen to try to avoid obsessing about my progress but I love the fact that the machine keeps my pace controlled because that was something I found very difficult to do on road. I always finish with a 5 minute walking pace and the feeling of satisfaction, smugness, self congratulation, relief properly sets me up for the day. Wow I’ve really banged on a bit haven’t I?😱

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Angelaiom

That idea of covering the screen is genius! I always promise myself that I won't obsessively check how I'm doing timewise, but last about a minute before sneaking a look 😆. Well done on your achievement!

... one more thing... I keep telling myself I’m getting my lungs covid-ready should the worse happen and I find this also helps as motivation

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Angelaiom

Yep, that's what really prompted me to start the process.

Hi,The answer is yes found it hard to continue

With the running, but you have to tell yourself your doing it for your health, don’t concentrate on the run concentrate on the feel good after the run, also you will find the first 10 minutes are the hardest break your runs into 3 minute sections without stopping,I do 32 minutes 3 times a week and believe me I never thought that would be possible, but the way I do it on a treadmill is I run for 8 minutes then I take it to 16 minutes my thoughts are the only 4 minutes to the 29 minute Mark then up to 24 minutes , at this point I ask myself how do you feel breathy good legs feel good o look I’m up to 28 minutes nearly over now keep going only 2 lots of 2 minutes to go and I’m there , exercise done for a couple of days, and on to the next one,

This works for me I hope you try it , it’s all about mind management

Good luck keep going

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Legs10

That's fairly close to my current approach to the longer runs. I try to mentally break them down into short chunks but unfortunately my ill-disciplined mind occasionally breaks free and looks ahead with horror at the fact that there is still 15 minutes to go 😮. It's good advice though. I will try to be more disciplined!

Thanks for replying. This forum is great!

When I started covering the screen I only lasted like 4 mins and then found myself looking every couple of mins but now I’m actually trying to listen to my body ( I know that sounds a bit wanky) but if I’m breathing ok and not hurting too much then it doesn’t matter what minute I’m on I’m going to keep going anyway.


I have been looking at getting a treadmill for a while now as I was worried about running in the dark. I saw that you can download running apps that give you a view as you run eg mountain run, forest run etc and that might be more interesting. It may also be more tempting to give up on a running app as you are already home. If out on a run, you still have to get home. In the end I opted for a chest light, some light up bands and a reflective jacket. I am too worried about spending lots of money on something I don't use! I'm lucky in that most of my run is on a pavement though.

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Jenny115

We've actually had the treadmill for about 20 years. This isn't my first attempt at running, and my husband has done a bit over the years, so while it perhaps doesn't get as much use as it should it has had enough use over the years to justify the investment. I think you are right to be cautious about getting one, though - you have to be very sure that it is what you need. The big mistake we made was buying off the internet without seeing it in real life first. The one we bought is enormous and weighs an absolute ton. I honestly think we may have to leave it behind if we ever move house 😂.

Hi Bella. I too am a treadmill runner for almost exactly the same reasons as you. I graduated C25K last month and found it quite challenging then when I started my solo runs I just found it impossible. I really didn't want to let all my effort go to waste so I bit the bullet and dropped my speed by half a k/hr. Yes it means the holy grail of the 30min 5k is well out of bounds but I am enjoying my runs, I take the opportunity to plug myself into my music and have a period of time just for me. I am now working on the length of time I can run instead of fixating on my speed and distance. Even if I never get to 5k it's better than the alternative of returning to the couch xxx

BellaTheCookGraduate in reply to Flaggingrunner

That is interesting. I think if I have one criticism of C25K it is that it feels very target focussed. I know everyone says that it is fine to repeat weeks etc etc, but ultimately there is a goal, which is to run for 30 minutes, and then to get to 5K. The problem is that when you reach the goal, what then? I can imagine that it feels like an anticlimax and that motivation would plummet through the floor. You've clearly found a good way to resolve that.

I'm trying to keep my primary target simple, which is simply to be on the treadmill for 30 minutes three times per week, but it is hard not to get sucked into the faster, longer, stronger mindset.

Thanks for your reply - it is great to hear people's different approaches to getting through mental blocks.

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