Couch to 5K
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Tips needed to overcome self consciousness

I have been reading a lot of blogs on here all with the same theme or problem.

Can any of you Graduates/running experts give any help to newbies like myself who feel self conscious running in public.

As i have said on my previous blogs I love running and I'm determined not to give up but have had a very slow start. Some runs good others a disaster. I have now realized that I have been trying to run to fast to soon. So I have started the programme again and slowed it right down with much better results.But I still have the problem that I must look a real idiot waddling along at a snails pace.

I feel reading these blogs that I am not alone on this I'm sure there are many who like me find themselves changing direction when they see someone coming to wards them from the opposite direction or speeding up when a car drives past

What I really need right now is help from all you folk who have had this problem and have overcome this and succeeded. Please Please help any tips or encouraging words would be really appreciated.

Many thanks in advance.

26 Replies

Probably not very helpful, but I think, "I'm running they aren't" and "I'm running because I love it, not for anyone else" but I still occasionally run a bit faster because people are around.

As with anything, I think that the more you do it the easier it gets, keep getting out there :-) it does get easier.


I did most of my running until I graduated on a cycle trail as I wouldn't meet too many people mainly for the reasons you mention. However, since graduating my running confidence has grown and I now run "public". I no longer care what others think as I may be running slow but I am running and they are not. The speeding up bit is an issue but I am tackling that for no other reason than it knackers me out later in the run.

So, just feel proud about what YOU are doing.


Yes the self consciousness is horrible. I am inclined to run when there are fewer people around. That means getting up early or running later. Over the winter months I left my runs until dusk (not dark) in the hopes of not being seen. If all else fails don't make eye contact :-). That makes me feel a bit better.

To be honest I have run past loads of people since I started couch to 5k and most, if not all, appeared to not notice me at all. Either that or they were avoiding eye contact too.

Good luck and keep on running :-)


I have realised over the year I have been running that people really don't stare at runners! I think they register "oh, a running person" rather like they register "oh a dog walker" and get out the way! Most people are in their own heads and thinking of dinner etc... I have had the odd shout out from a passing workman or a couple of teenagers saying something sarky! but that happens anyway even if walking and is usually for the benefit of their mates! And I don't really care about what these people think anyway!!

Just focus on yourself, enjoy the run and remember that you are DOING it and be proud!! :)


Get out the way? not where I live. A few times I've ran toward two or more people walking side by side, make eye contact with them, and then they fail to move and give me enough room. On one occassion it was so bad I was forced to run on the road with cars behind me...


Hello, I know exactly what you mean! I was petrified of being seen by someone I know, or thinking I looked a right idiot huffing and puffing every time I past someone. I was dreading running alongside the road. And then three things happened. One, my husband told me that although cars etc were going past, who really notices? They might see us shuffling, but do they really care? No. Second, I read on another runners forum from a long distance runner that whenever he seen the likes of me staggering, he wanted to come up to us and say "Well done" just for being out there and not sat on the ever so comfortable couch. And then lastly, just the past few runs, other runners come past me and smile. A nice smile. All that makes me believe I can do it. I am just starting WK5R1 this week and totally loving it. All this from someone who couldnt even make 45 seconds in one go.! I am 41, overweight, and have lost 12 pounds since I started exercising at the beginning of December. Good luck and whenever you pass someone, just say to yourself.....who cares? At least I am trying!


Hi there,

I wouldn't worry about how you look while running. The vast majority of anyone that sees you will be feeling a combination of admiration for your efforts and jealousy that you're getting out there and enjoying a run.

Try focusing on how running makes you feel as opposed to how others might perceive you and keep telling yourself how well you're doing!

Best of luck



This may or may not help but I actually used to scoff when I saw folk running at a snails pace. Of course I'd say nothing to them but would remark on it for a laugh to Mrs Fingalo.

This from a man who'd not done a stroke of exercise in 25 years and were I to try, wouldn't have been able to run alongside them for longer than a minute before I'd be looking like a complete fool.

I agree with those above, the vast majority don't even notice, the exceptions are ignorant arseholes, as I was.


I think you should be proud, you're taking responsibility for your fitness. In my experience the vast majority barely register me, although I have had the occasional gawper and like many women runners I've had a few vulgar shouts from men in vans/workmen (I completey blank them & usually have my plugs in which helps). I do agree with Phil's comment that it gets easier the more you do it, it just becomes normal. One thing that helped when I first started was sunglasses (a cunning disguise :-D ) but this was the summer months. Anyway, take courage in the fact as the comments above show there's a whole army of us out there!


I'm far from a graduate and definitely no expert but I too know exactly where you're coming from. For the first couple of weeks I'd go out late, alerting as few people as possible that I was attempting to run. 12 runs later and I realized that despite living in a student area where judging others is a habitual past time, nobody notices me. If they do, it's only to give a polite smile as they step out of my way.

Feel proud for getting out there and staying out, then use the pride to steady your pace and keep your head up

Good luck! :)


I have found that making eye contact and then smiling usually gets a smile back, not always but you'd be surprised how often. In the snowy weather, this actually prompted a laugh and shake of the head from pedestrians in a couple of cases. I don't think that they could believe that anyone could be enjoying running in those conditions.

For years I said that I wouldn't be able to run, child bearing hips and knock knees being the main reasons :-D , and used the comment "have you ever seen a happy jogger?" as another one. Now that I've started, I realise that most joggers do smile, even the uber fit professional ones will smile at an oldie like me making the effort :-)


When I started I wore my jeans and hoped people would think I was trying to hurry because I was late for something! I don't know where you run but I use cycle tracks and village roads (all at a geriatric snail's pace). I was worried what people would think but as has been said above the majority of people are in their own world. But often when I pass people they smile, say hello - some have even said "I wish I could do that" - and that's with me looking like an overripe, stuffed tomato!

I know it's easier said than done but be brave when you are out there - you are probably doing something others wish they could if only they knew how to start. Instead of changing direction keep going at your pace, don't speed up, it only ruins your rhythm and be proud of what you are doing. You really are doing something good for you. I'm sure the further into the porgramme you get, the more your confidence will build.


I find that it helps to stop judging myself & my runs as good or bad, that is, change my attitude to one that is more gentle & kind. As I begin to appreciate my own efforts & celebrate the little victories, there is a spring in my step, a sense of gratitude that I am able to do this today, & it seems that others smile too. In any case, I tell myself that what they think of me is none of my business. It really is all about them & their attitude toward people & life. Just not my business at all!


I notice runners, now, not before I started (it's like when you know someone with a particular make of car you start noticing it). There were an awful lot of them out and about round Hampton court today. But I'm more likely to make a comment to hubby about them wearing dark clothes running along the road at dusk and not being visible than how fast/slow they're running.

Back when I was on about week 5 or 6 I was going round the aerodrome and a group went for a walk to a shuffling run about 10 yards in front of me. My thoughts were more along the lines of 'that was me a few weeks ago' rather than 'they're going slowly'.

So anyway, waffling aside, if the people that see you aren't runners they'll probably not register you, if they're new runners they'll remember how they felt a few months back and if they're seasoned runners, sorry, no insights there, I still count myself in with the newbies!

Of course there's always the blinkers approach, refuse to acknowledge that anyone else exists!


There are lots of lovely people out there who will admire what you are doing, if they happen to notice. The others are not worth your concern.

How do you think about yourself? Are you thinking that you look silly or are you thinking I'm a gutsy person who is determined to succeed ? Clothe yourself in positive thoughts and you may become less concerned about others views.

Keep going, the only way is up!


Most if us started out just like you! I started out an unfit 49.5 year old lacking confidence and am now a much fitter, soon to be 50 year old who feels so much less self conscience out around people. I still huff and puff and dread passing people, but I do it. I do feel great when I pass them once or twice on the track and I'm still running while they are walking. :-) I ran a organized 5K with most of those attending from a high school track team...I did not realize this until it was too late...thank you Mr. Hall... :-( BUT, off they went and I chugged and chugged and chugged to the finish line. I finished well into all of them gathering in the parking lot and chatting, but they did stop and clap to cheer me on to the finish. I found out then, no matter how self conscience I am, just get out there and do it, nobody really cares what you look like. You are your worst enemy. You can many can't...just enjoy the journey!!! I promise, as you continue on, you will feel so much better about yourself!! Gayle


I agree with the contents above, most people don't register runners and other runners are just impressed you are out there having a go. When I first started running I went early in the morning a and took the dog, hoping no one would see me. Even timing if so no one at home saw me come back red and sweaty, now just 5 months later I have joined a running club and run my local Parkrun regularly, where you are given lots of encouragement. Just remember you are doing it for you and you can do it, don't worry what other people think most will admire you for starting running. Good on you :-)


When I drive past a jogger whether thin, large, fast or slow I always comment that at least they are doing it and we are sat in a car.

I used to stop on the way home from work and park in the local country park and run there as it is quiet but rather than being wary of people I hate dogs!! Makes life very hard especially when they are off the lead jumping up at you!

Keep it up you are doing more than most and should feel happy with that.


Lets face it does it matter how fast you are going to others, no. Do they know how far you have run, no. You could be on the last mile of a 1/2M or the 1st mile, its the fact that you are out there, doing your thing and are probably a lot fitter and healthier than they are. Hold your head up high, smile and get on with the job in hand. Well done, you are off the couch and moving under your own power which deserves respect. :)


One more thing, when you are running toward a person and are red faced and ready to pass out, they don't know if you just ran 1 minute or 30 minutes!!! ;-) ;-) Gayle


I agree wholeheartedly with all the others.

When I was a non runner I would barely notice runners and when I did register joggers/runners I'd feel ashamed that I wasn't very active and that they were great for getting their butts into action.

Now I have spotted loads of runners - some very fast ones that overtake me and look like 'seasoned athletes', others more like me - slow and steady shufflers - I smile - they smile back - and I think all of them are great for being out there.

As for non runners - I just keep looking straight ahead and concentrate on my run - I haven't had a single person laugh or give comment (well I haven't heard because I'm listening to Laura) but if they did I'd just laugh as well, whilst congratulating myself on getting up off the couch and getting on with getting fitter :-)


;-) Thank you every one, all your comments are very positive and have given me the confidence which I desperately needed. From now on no more hiding away,crossing the road or feeling pathetic.

I'm doing this for me and can only go from strength to strength. So I'm going to hold my head up high and get on with the job in hand. On wards and up wards, slow and steady,proud and determined. I can do this and more importantly I'm going to enjoy it.

Once again thanks so much every single comment has given me a boost.


:) Good for you! Atta girl!


I was *very* self concious when I started, so much so, I actually put off starting the C25k by a year or so before deciding enough was enough.

I live pretty close to the local town centre but also fortunate enough that a 5minute walk in the opposite direction takes me to a really quiet residential area so when I started the C25K, i'd do my warm up walk to this place, run around it because I knew it'd be quiet (you'd only see dog walkers on an occasion) and other people wouldn't see me and then cool down on the walk back. Oh, and I'd also do this at 5.30am, even less chance of folk being around!

But now, (10 months later), that's all changed. I still run in the same areas at the same time as that fits in with my work but at weekends on my longer runs, I'm off exploring the local area and have found myself running through the high street on a Saturday afternoon.

Ultimately, at the end of the day, you're doing this for you! No one else. You're out doing something you enjoy and you're also helping to improve your health.


Great question and very encouraging and supportive answers, thank you


I used to worry that I wasn't fast enough, but now I know that I'm fast enough for ME and I'm the only one who counts ;-) I also used to speed up when I saw others coming, was worried if my tshirt rode up a bit and exposed any extra flesh, etc (although I am lucky I was only a bit overweight). The point is, you are running, they are not. You are taking control of your health (your life!) and doing something that will benefit you and your friends and family (a happier, more confident and positive person will emerge over the coming weeks, which makes everyone happier).

Someone above mentioned that runners don't register with passers by, that's pretty much true. I admit I notice heavier runners, but only in a 'well done you' sort of way. And don't worry at all about other runners, they are either like us, and smile and wave (can't breathe to say hello though), or they are the serious runners who don't see anyone else. Either way, nothing to be worried about.

I think you are in the majority, we all worried to begin with, but the feeling of achievement you get, and all the other benefits, should far outweigh those negative worries, so focus on the positive :-) You can do it!

Good luck x


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