When I first started the Couch to 5K, I thought I must be doing something wrong. I hated it, absolutely abhorred it, felt rageful towards the automated voice telling me when to run and when to walk (smug cow). I couldn’t believe anyone would actually enjoy this activity and started to suspect that my running-mad friends were either lying or insane.
I kept going with the programme because it meant 30 minutes away from my five-month-old twins and two-year-old, so any enjoyment (or lack thereof) seemed beside the point. I think it was about Week 4 when I began to look forward to going out, and I was glad that friends had convinced me to “trust the programme” (runners can be quite similar to cult members – complete with motivational catchphrases).
Still, one of the things that’s surprised me about running is that there are loads of times where I’m not enjoying myself; where I want to turn back and walk home, or worse, ring my husband and beg him to pick me up. During one of these low points on today’s run, I distracted myself by coming up with a list of things that keep me going – so here it is.
Moving the goalposts
I trick myself. Yes, it’s silly and not really possible of course, but I tell myself I will stop at the end of that road, or that I’ll just complete this kilometre. Then I keep going, and do an evil laugh at my own naivety.
I always listen to the same playlist when I’m out and I favour songs with a fast beat and repetitive refrain. Sometimes a new track coming on is enough to keep me going – ‘Renegades’ by Rage Against the Machine is my current favourite.
I’m currently using the Zen Labs 10K Trainer app, which I really like. It’s non-intrusive but the countdown can really help with motivation. I use the five-minute announcement on my Runkeeper app, which helps me keep going just a bit longer. My Garmin Forerunner watch is great for pushing me a bit further and trying to beat myself.
Taking a breath
Sometimes I need to slow down so that I can keep going. Sometimes I need to walk, to catch my breath or have a drink (staying hydrated when running is REALLY important). That’s ok – it’s distance that matters to me; speed is secondary. I know that I need to build up my stamina, and if slowing down means I won’t just give up, then I’m happy with that.
Planning world domination
Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m out running. It’s really the only time I get to think and I relish it. I think about my goals, plan blog posts, brainstorm activities for the kids…anything to take my mind off how much I’m struggling to keep going.
When all else fails
Sometimes I get to the point where I have a headache, feel like I’m going to be sick, and start getting flashbacks to high school cross country (shudder). I feel myself starting to panic and mean-Ellie says “you can’t do this, what are you thinking? You’re rubbish at sports, you’re fat and unfit.”
When this happens, not even the best distraction works. To defeat mean-Ellie and her hurtful words, all I can do is just keep putting one foot in front of the other. After a while, she goes back into her cave. And do you know what? Works in everyday life, too!