Lesson from Jogging Failure

Since June 16th, I’ve been doing the Couch-to-5k (C25k) running program. I really don’t like running and I’m surprised I’ve kept the habit this long. But I definitely needed to get my physical activity back up and running is free.

Last night was the first task of C25k that I couldn’t complete successfully. It was Week 4, Day 2, where you do the following:

  1. Warmup walk (5 minutes)
  2. Jog (3 minutes)
  3. Walk (90 seconds)
  4. Jog (5 minutes)
  5. Walk (2.5 minutes)
  6. Jog (3 minutes)
  7. Walk (90 seconds)
  8. Jog (5 minutes)
  9. Cooldown walk (5 minutes)

I had done this run successfully on Saturday (Week 4, Day 1.) Though I felt rough during the 5-minute jogs, I knew during that run that I would make through. Last night was completely the opposite. As soon as I started my first 5-minute jog, every muscle felt weak. My knees and feet were aching. I couldn’t even keep my head up or breathe well like I normally do. After the 5-minutes were up, I started walking home and that was it.

The Mental Conversation

When you’re taking that long walk home (it’s a lot faster when you run it…) your mind starts being cruel to yourself. All the reasons why you started running in the first place start coming back to say hi. I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m unambitious — and that all starts to feel true since you just failed at something you know you’ve done before.

Next come the excuses. It was raining all day and even lightly a bit while running, so it was hard to grip the pavement. I didn’t have much time to let dinner settle so I was low on energy and my stomach felt uneasy. I’m stressed and couldn’t properly think of my form.

The Reality

The excuses don’t actually matter. The reality is that failures and breakdowns happen when you’re training your body for something it’s not ready for yet. If I could run for 30 minutes straight already, then yes, this 8 minutes of running is pretty pathetic. But 3 weeks ago I was proud of myself for running 8 minutes total in 90-second portions.

That’s right, Day 1 of C25k was 3 weeks ago! I’ve even been doing the training with not enough rest. This was supposed to be day 2 of week 4, and the reality is that it’s day 2 of week 3 on the calendar.

Tonight happened because my body was sending a message. I did the right thing by going out there at all, and I did the right thing by walking back. The now is exactly what it should be. The future is up to me.

The Plan

I’ve run every-other-day since starting the c25k, except one break of resting 2 days. I’m going to take another 2 day rest and run again on Friday.

Wednesday and Thursday will have lots of stretching.

When I do run on Friday, it’ll be re-running Week 4, Day 1. If these 3-minute and 5-minute jogs are where my body is at, it’s where my body is at. I’m not gonna rush this along and hit the 8-minute jogs of week 5 before I’m ready for them.

Most importantly, I’m seeing this as a failure of my muscles, not a failure of myself. I’m doing the part of this that I’m supposed to do: get out there, work hard, and learn the lessons I need to learn.


By Alex

Web Developer and Fitness Coach in Louisville, KY

2 replies on “Lesson from Jogging Failure”

I love this. Partially because I’m about to jump on the C25K bandwagon, but mostly because it’s so easy to turn setbacks or growing pains into opportunities for self flagellation. Thanks for the reminder.

I’m certainly no expert on running, but I’ve found the c25k to be simple enough approach that I actually stick with it. I wasn’t willing to take first steps like buying a heart rate monitor, or doing a personal training session, which is advice I saw on some blogs that oppose the c25k.

Have a comment? Try to be nice.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s