Couch to Frustration

Courtesy of Raja Vinoth

Courtesy of Raja Vinoth

Over the past nine weeks I have spent three days out of every one of those weeks jogging to get me from doing no jogging what so ever (the couch) to jogging 5K.

So by week nine you’d think I’d be buzzing and jogging like a pro.

Alas this just hasn’t happened.

I’ve completed all nine weeks, of that I can be proud of.  I’ve jogged in snow, sleet, hail and minus temperatures, since I began back in January.  When I couldn’t train on the pavements (twice), I’d opt to the safety of indoors and complete cross training or spinning for the same time periods.

Mental focus

But by and by, it’s week nine and I don’t feel like a jogger at all.  I feel disheartened and fed up.  Why?  Because after all this jogging I can’t seem to get my mind focussed enough to deal with breathing and putting one foot in front of the other in quick succession for longer than 10 minutes.

Week seven I realised my breathing was not happening.  I finished that week struggling through a 25 minute minute run trying to breath.  I ended up panicking myself so much the entire run that I had to keep stopping just to get my breath back.  Hardly great for someone who hadn’t had any problems in that area up to now.  I suddenly realised that I’d spent so much time getting to 25 minutes I hadn’t taken any time to work out how to breath because everyone just kept telling me it would happen naturally.

Week eight I ditched the headphones and took myself round a football pitch to concentrate on nothing else but breathing for 28 minutes.  In through the nose, out through the mouth.  It sounds really easy but for two problems;

  • I never breath through my nose
  • Taking shallow breaths usually means I’m suffering an anxiety attack so my body instantly tries to take slower, deeper breaths which is exactly what I don’t want to do.

That took some serious mental focussing but I got there, in out, in out…got it.

Week eight, run three and I’m feeling perky again.  Off I go, no headphones just me, round the field again.  Only it still didn’t work, 10 minutes in and I just stop.  I don’t need to stop, but I do.  So I take off again and another couple of minutes and I stop again, why?  I don’t know.  Breathing, check.  Legs check.  Everything is working as it should and yet every few minutes I just stop.

I keep thinking I’m going to a fall over.

Yup, it really was as ridiculous as you just read.

Okay the grass was pretty wet and clumpy in places but it was the same field I’ve run round countless times.

Confidence issues

I could really kick myself at this point.  I was so frustrated I kept looking towards the exit gate.

No, I didn’t give up.  I didn’t do a solid 28 minutes as I was supposed to either but I did finish the pod cast.

For every session that doesn’t go well, I loose all confidence in myself.

In fact this C25K has taught me more about myself than I could ever have imagined.

For one thing my grand plans of ‘just’ training for a 10k were seriously over rated.  Getting to 5K is hard enough.

And why did I ever think it was just about the physical challenge?  It’s not.  Which is probably why so many people give up so early on.

It’s not enough to just put some trainers on and head out the door.  For me this is a huge mental challenge as well.

I think it would actually be easier if I just ran on a treadmill in a grey room, day in day out.  That way I could focus.   It’s the little distractions that get me every time – the colour of the grass, the wind on my face, those kids playing football over there.  It sounds silly but it’s a real issue for me.  While the C25k pod casts have helped get me to this stage I now need a rethink.  I was so used to having the jogging sessions broken up into walking then jogging, that my mind just does it automatically now and stops my body regardless of whether it needs to or not.

I’ve decided that to get me to this 5k I need to get my confidence back by breaking the run up in the week.  Two runs of say 20mins followed by one of 30 until my body gets used to the extra time.  That way for every run I do (hopefully) complete, I’ll be feeling much more confidant for the longer one.

All I need to do now is find the breathing and head focussing techniques that all those regular joggers have (and make it look so easy), because I’m not giving up.

Not this close.

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7 responses to “Couch to Frustration

  1. Hi Sophie. Well done on getting this far. I must confess I’ve never done the ‘in the nose, out the mouth’ breathing (scuba diving habit). I’m working on the principle that as long as the air goes in and out it cant be that bad. Try not bothering and just breathe in a way that is comfortable and see how that goes.

    • Thank you. I’ve read so much online about breathing & jogging lately it’s confused me more! You’re right. I should just go with what’s comfortable. I’ll give it a go 😛

  2. I’ve done the C25K quite a few times – over winter I get out of the habit sometimes – so I often start again, although not always from Week1.

    My suggestions:

    1. Pick a new route. If you’re always used to stopping “by the bench” you’ll subconsciously make it a target and think you’re done when you get there. On a new route, there are no landmarks where you’re used to stopping. Best yet, take a new route for each run during the week. And do them in reverse the next. You won’t have time to figure / remember any landmarks. When you do, find some new routes.

    2. Use a heart rate monitor watch (e.g. Polar FT1) together with the C25k run. The C25k is about time, not effort or distance. If you can’t make the time, it’s likely you may be starting off too quick – and a HRM can keep you in check so that you take a more measured pace. You may find yourself going slower and not as far – but that doesn’t matter, that will come. It’s time “on your feet” in one chunk that you want first. And going at that slower rate will help the breathing.

    3. Don’t be afraid to repeat weeks. If you need to do week 5 for a few weeks, that’s fine. Often, if I was ill for a bit or missed a run or two, or it was a bit too much too soon then I would repeat a week or even go back a week or more depending on how long I was off for.

    Ultimately, at the end of each run you want to have enjoyed it – not killed yourself. That way you’ll want to do the next run – not dread it. I would enjoy the distractions, watch the grass, chase the dog in the park – and if you’re going to do (2) you’ll have the time and energy to do so and the time will pass more quickly because of it!

    Good luck!

  3. p.s if you did concentrate on breathing again (i’d do the above instead tho), breathe in over 3 steps (left, right, left), breathe out over 3 steps. Or breath in over 4 steps, and out over 4 steps when taking it really easy. They should end up being relaxed, slow breaths…

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