Couch to 5K

Week 8: Can't Take the Pressure

Today was W8 R2. I wasn't expecting miracles, but I had a personal best run two days ago, and with the end of the program in sight, I was confident I could do it.

The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the flowers blooming. And my partner J finally agreed to come out with me again. (He started out with me for the first couple of weeks, but I have been on my own most of the program, and especially for the most recent weeks.)

I guess I had performance anxiety, or fatigue or something. I didn't even make it halfway. My thigh was cramping during the walk in the warm-up! It was just bad all around. I gave up and walked about a minute and then tried running again, but hardly made a minute more. At this point, J (who does try to be supportive but doesn't always "get it") declared that he was going off for a walk in a park right next to our route. The park is more of a preserve, heavily wooded with only some tracks made by previous visitors, that tend to veer off in every direction. I called out that I would join him, and followed, and called and called, but he was gone. So I wandered around the park a bit. (It was really, really beautiful, an oasis in the city I didn't even know was there.) Then I returned to the trail, ran perhaps another minute, gave up and slowly trudged home the short way. My heart wasn't in it.

J was upset that his planned run was de-railed, and that he had to wait for me (as I never did find him in the park, and he didn't hear me calling.) Personally, I think he should have consulted with me about his route-changing plans before just taking off, but mostly I found that I resented his presence. It is so easy for him to run, even though he doesn't hardly exercise, eats like a decadent 5 year-old (all Kraft dinner and candy), and has only been coming on the runs with me sporadically as a favor - and even then it isn't a challenge and he slows waaaay down to stay with me, or runs ahead and loops back. So here I am, after working my butt off (literally, it is smaller) for 8 weeks and all ready to impress him with my running for 28 minutes like it is no big deal, and I could hardly manage half of that.

Performance anxiety? Bad luck? I don't know what is wrong with me today.

***Update: J deserves rather more credit than I gave him in this post. Apparently, when he went off into the park, he said he would "catch up with me" on my route (I didn't hear that), and he didn't hear me calling after him. He meant to head me off at a different part of my route, which I believe and understand as pretty reasonable.

Also, after I wrote this post, which I am pretty sure he hasn't read, he came upstairs and found me in the shower and told me how proud he was of me and my running efforts, today notwithstanding. He even gave me a back-rub and massaged my sore legs.

I was thinking about it, and while he wasn't exactly being Mr. Sensitive walking off into the park like that, and being put out that he had to wait for me, most of my frustration today is my own issue.

I am jealous of how easy it is for him. And that is my problem, not his. Shame on me for comparing myself with a man nearly 1 foot taller, who is an ectomorph, practically designed for running, and who has robust good health. I wish it was as easy for me, or even close to being that easy, but it isn't his fault he is an extremely lucky guy. I wanted to impress him with the results of my hard work and I failed today, and he isn't to blame for that.

My real lesson today is that I need to focus on my own journey, and avoid comparing myself to others. It is still a miracle that I can run at all, since I was barely walking with a cane 1.5 yrs ago. And I know that everyone has bad runs. Perhaps my next one will be better.

6 Replies

Poor you! After J is done with the time out he so desperately needs maybe you could have a few strong words about this support role he seems to be misunderstanding ;)

Crappy runs happen for a number of reasons, we just need to learn from them and move on. There's nothing to be gained from dwelling on it.

Take a couple of days rest and try again, maybe with a more supportive buddy or alone if need be.

Good luck, you can do it :)


It is true that J sometimes misses the mark in how to make me feel better, but when I think more about today, he wasn't really the problem. (It is possible that I had performance anxiety wanting to show him how much I have improved, but again, that isn't his fault - even if he is the closest target.) I will try not to dwell on the bad run. I know that most of them will be better, probably including the next one, after a good rest. And yes, I find that running alone lowers the pressure to perform, so maybe that is something to consider. Thanks for the kind words. :)


He is an extremely lucky guy - to have you! You have come from barely being able to walk to being on week 8 - what great determination and courage you have.

I'm sure it was performance anxiety which put you off your stride today but I found w8r2 hard too - it was the first run of the programme which I had to stop and walk in. However, you know you can do it 'cos you've done w8r1 so just go out there next time and run your socks off!


Thank you!! Sometimes I feel like I am just dragging him (and others) down. I am really grateful for your kind words.

And heck yes, I am going to keep at it. I am considering going out today (I had a full rest day), but I might give myself an extra rest day if I don't feel too great, to help ensure my success.


I don't think that I would like to run with anyone else as you are right, you feel the need to perform well and that puts more pressure on.

A parkrun is different because you can run as individuals.

I found weeks 8and 9 tough. It is still tough to do 5k but I am hoping that the more I do it the easier it will get ???

Keep going, you are doing so well. Maybe get J to come and cheer you on when you do your first 5k organised race? You want him to be proud of you and he is. Sometimes they just don't show it too well!


Thank you, I will definitely keep at it. I happily stumbled upon a really beautiful route quite early in the program. It has hills, but it is also quiet, serene, private, on a paved foot-path with no cars and the occasional runner or dog-walker. It is lined with trees in bloom and parks. I really like it. And I think I will get him to cheer me on when I get to an actual 5K route and/or race. (I am running the time, but not the distance yet.)

As for 5K getting easier, I can only assume that it does. Perhaps some days are easier than others, but I can run 3K now and that is definitely easier than it was for me just a couple months ago.

I am hoping to find something like the parkruns I see talked about. I looked up the website, and they look fantastic. But I am in Canada, and haven't found anything like that here so far.


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