My secret defeat

I have a secret.

I’ve been working on a secret project for a few months now, and only a few people know about it. I’m very near the completion of said project, and I had planned on revealing my secret  with a most glorious blog post. In fact, most of it is already written, just sitting in my Drafts folder waiting to be published.

On Friday, I felt super confident about my project…cocky even, if I’m being honest.

And then on Saturday, to put it bluntly, I got my ass handed to me and my confidence came crashing to the ground in a spectacular display of FAILURE.

My secret? I have completed Weeks 1-8 of the Couch to 5k program. It’s all been treadmill, but still I was thrilled.

My failure? Read on my friends, read on…

For the last four years, the Couch to 5k program has been my Everest. I’ve started the program many times, but only ever made it as far as Day 1 of Week 5. For some reason, I never could get over that hump of Week 5 and the fear of the 20 minute run.

But back in November, I remembered there is a 5k race that I want to run in March. So I dusted off my treadmill, found my mp3 player and downloaded some C25k podcasts and began AGAIN. For some reason, this time something just clicked and before I knew it, I was waking up at 5am and running consistently 3 days a week. I had nearly completed Week 8 and while  it wasn’t always easy,  I could run over 2miles on my treadmill. ON MY TREADMILL – that part’s important to remember.

So since the 5k I want to run is a month away, I thought it might be a good idea to, you know, run on  ground that doesn’t move beneath me. I knew it would be different than running on a treadmill and wanted to get used to that before the race. Saturday morning, since it was 20 degrees outside, I headed up to the local rec center to use the inside walking/jogging track. It’s pretty small (10x around = 1 mile) and there were quite a few people using it, but I didn’t mind. I put in my ear buds, turned on my music, and started what was supposed to be Day 3 of Week 8 which is a 28 minute run. I nodded knowingly to the other runners and began my run.

I started off and right away I knew I was in over my head. This actual propelling-myself-forward-on-my-own-feet thing was ONE THOUSAND PERCENT HARDER than I had anticipated. Sweet Mother of Running, what the heck was going on?? I couldn’t find my pace, I couldn’t get my breathing right, my calves were screaming at me, and my feet were not happy about this new development.

After what seemed like forever, I glanced at my watch to see how long I had been going. Four minutes. Four minutes and 25 seconds. That’s how long I lasted before I had to slow down and walk. On my treadmill, I could do 28 minutes. On the ground, I barely lasted four freaking minutes.

(Insert crushing defeat here)

I walked for a bit and then tried to run again, in fact I tried several times to keep running, but honestly I was already done. My confidence had hit the wall and there was no getting it back. I was shattered. I mean, I knew it would be harder…I did…but I had no idea that it would be quite that different. I finally gave up  and left the track with my head hung low.

I came home and all Shawn had to say was “how was your run?” to get the tears flowing. Disappointed, frustrated, astonished – I was all of those things. I cried hard and told Shawn all about it, and I gotta give the man credit – he said all of the right things. He told me he was proud of me and that I shouldn’t give up, among other things. His words were exactly what I needed to hear, but I’m still sad.

I wanted more than anything, to be able to RUN this race. I wanted to be able to confidently say, “Yes, these chunky thighs can run 3miles!!”  I know there’s no shame in taking walk breaks, but this is a goal I had that I *thought* I would meet. Now I feel like I need to start over at the beginning, and there’s just no time.

I was scheduled to run again this morning, but I’m mad at running right now. I want to finish this last week of C25k , but does it really matter now? Does it even count? (This is where I stamp my foot and kick the wall and cross my arms and pout like a little kid. This is exactly how I feel today, and if I wasn’t at work, I would totally do all those things)

I know logically that even running on the treadmill is a big accomplishment for me – and each time I complete a run, I feel amazing. I’ll probably try to run on the treadmill on Tuesday and Thursday, and then maybe give it another shot on Saturday – it’s supposed to be warmer, so maybe I’ll head outside to the park and give it another go.  Maybe a humble attitude will make a difference.

I’ve got 3 more Saturdays that I can run outside before the race. I don’t know if this will give me enough time to get used to it. I’m not going to back out of the race, but I will be going into it a little less excited and a lot more wary.

Believe me, this is not the post I wanted to write today, but I feel like I need to get it out of my system before I can trudge forward into Week 9 – if there is a Week 9. Running and I might still not be speaking tomorrow, I’ll have to let you know.


24 thoughts on “My secret defeat

  1. Have you been running at in incline on the treadmill? I read many places that you should, so i started using a 1.5% incline.
    When I startede C25K around Labor Day, i had 11 weeks before the 5K I signed up for, so not much wiggle room, not much time for doovers. I did it all on the treadmill until Week 6 maybe? then I decided to go outside – it was 30 degrees, which was cold for our fall, probably the only cold day in mass last fall. I immediately came down with bronchitis and couldn’t run, inside or outside, for 3 weeks!

    Less than 10 days before my first 5K I wrote:
    “I ran for 1 mile at 4.7 at 1.5% incline
    Then walked 2:30 minutes.
    Then ran 6 minutes.
    Walked 2:30
    Ran 6 minutes

    I originally had wanted to run a full mile in the second segment but I gave up 😦

    So the total was 2:25 miles in 29:40 miles. I realize I was putting everywhere that I only went 2 miles, but I am pretty sure it was 2.25.”

    A couple of days later I completed a 5K, but didn’t run the whole thing. Since then I haven’t walked at all during runing – I have serious issues trying to get going again after walking, I just slow down really slow.

    A week later I did run a 5K – I ran the whole thing for the very first time. That day was considered W9D2, but I considered myself graduated.

    You are going to do great! The race atmosphere really does help you along. And it is the best feeling in the world!

  2. Running on a treadmill is really different from running outside – I did ALL of my running on a treadmill prior to running my first mile, which was outside. It was tough! And I had a trainer running alongside me, which made a huge difference.

    One thing about the treadmill is that your pace is steady. Outdoors? You’re all over the place, which is so normal. Plus, it takes me a while to settle in to my run. I’m positive you can do this; I wish you had someone to run with outside – just having a “pacer” helps me to run better. Don’t give up – you have come so far with the C25K program!!! And remember, everyone has a bad run once in a while. That one was yours.

  3. I dunno, getting through week 8 of C25K sounds pretty awesome to me! Not sure how you were training on the ‘mill, but I’ve read that flat ground is equivalent to either level 1 or 1.5 on the ‘mill. So maybe you were trying to run a steeper incline at the same pace? Which can leave you a bit puffed. Maybe, for the outside runs, either use an earlier week’s workout, or go without tracking anything particular? Or find someplace pretty to run? Please don’t give up because of one bad run. Everyone has them, and you said that what you’ve done so far has been making you feel really good! That sounds like a victory to me right there. (Disclaimer: I’ve been totally slacking on my runs, because the last one was horrible. But I’m going to get back there and try again tomorrow and Thursday.)

  4. That is so awesome! Even 28 minutes on the treadmill is awesome. You can only fail if you never try. I’m sure you are frustrated. I too know the shock of the treadmill versus outdoor running. Just take one day at a time and one foot in front of the other… That’s all you can do. Otherwise you do get overwhelmed and depressed… Great effort. Keep going! I want to hear how you did it next month! Very inspiring to just keep going and keep trying…

  5. Aww – what a heart breaking story to read. I’m just your average joe but I’ll give you my advice for what it’s worth:

    First, as you know, your challenge moving outside should not at all take away from what you’ve accomplished inside. Progress is progress is progress and it’s totally your commitment and effort that count. Be your own best friend. What would you tell a girlfriend if she told you this story?

    Second, my first time running outdoors was only possible because I went outside and said “I don’t care how slow you go. Just keep running.” In hindsight I bet I was moving like 14 minute miles but whatev – I was moving! And more importantly perhaps, I’m still moving today because I can say that to myself when I’m struggling. Maybe all the people, the music, and the personal expectations made you think you should be sprinting like a mad woman. Did you have any way to gauge your pace? If I try to full out run, I’m not going to make it 5 minutes either. Yes, the adjustment to the unpadded foot surface, the friction, and the crushed expectations just make it that much worse!

    Finally, don’t you quit now! Even if you have to run that 5K on your treadmill — get to that milestone woman! Meet your accomplishment with open arms and then start fresh outside. You may even be able to make it through the event if you go outside saying “I don’t care how I look, how fast I move or how many people pass me.”

    I hope that helps and isn’t totally off mark. Even if you thrown out all my other advice, do know that I’m still sending blogger hugs and a “Congratulations!” on how far you’ve come.

  6. I had a treadmill in Illinois and noticed the exact same thing. BIG difference. That doesn’t discredit treadmill benefits, it’s just different.

    I did the C25K program about a year and a half ago. I live in the foothills, so it was more of a sluggish jog up and down the hills than running (downhill — I just tried not to fall on my face).

    What I learned:
    *I did it! I actually slogged the full time.
    *Some days I had no energy at all…but the energy did come back.
    *Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” is great to get me going.
    *Outdoors is more fun than a treadmill.
    *I should have listened to my body, particularly my feet. Ignoring pain in the feet is not good. I developed plantar fasciitis and was lucky that I could even walk the 6K I had signed up for.
    *Quality shoes is a must for exercising. I was running in cheap shoes that didn’t support my feet and my extra 60 pounds. (I was also jump-roping, which was just a death wish for my poor feet).

    How do you feel about starting the C25K over outside? I know you can do it, and I bet it will be easier this time around with the treadmill training behind you (easier than if you hadn’t pre-trained on the tread and tried it outside the first time).

    Go Jill! Go Jill! Go Jill!

  7. OMG, I wish you had emailed me! YES you can do the race! You are SOOOOOOO doing the race!!!

    I didn’t read through the comments, but if I repeat anyone I am sorry.

    1) Look at your shoes, make sure they’re the right ones for you. Also, you should know that shoes wear out between 200-500 miles (if you have a heavy footstrike, it’s closer to the shorter end. I have a heavy footstrike, it has nothing to do with weight.) Even if they look perfect, it’s like running on a flat tire and could be the problem.

    2) Joint wear on a treadmill verses outside is different. You have to propel, yes, but you also have the “ground” on the treadmill pulling at your ankles, you don’t have that outside (unless you are running down hill, but that’s another topic for another day.) You need to be ready for the adjustment period. This may include shinsplints too, so be careful, stretch, and WALK.

    3) right now, DON’T run your long run outside. Run the shorter ones (it’s been a long time since I looked at the plan, I don’t remember the structure.) Go a week getting the little ones outside, run the long one inside on the treadmill.

    4) Watch your breathing, you’ve got more to look at see, do, inclines, and more. It’s mind over matter getting the oxygen you need without gasping when all this extra stuff is around you.

    5) When the race day happens, when in doubt, switch to an interval. For example, you need a break? Schedule it. Run 5 minutes, walk one, whatever. Figure it out, and there is no shame in that. That’s actually how I run all my races. It takes me almost 11 minutes to run a mile straight in a 5k if I take no breaks. If I run 4 walk 1, I knock a mile out in 9 minutes, I’m not kidding. It’s the way I’m built, and a lot of people are the same way. Ask yourself if finishing the race is more important than running the entire thing without stopping? If you want to finish the race, consider adjusting if you are still having problems by race day.

    GAH! I wish I was closer, I’d run it with you! How far are you from Vermont??? 😉

  8. I’m not a runner but I wish I was and I think just what you have accomplished is fantastic. You did 8 weeks!! Let me repeat, you kept at it for 8 weeks!! In time you’ll make that run but for now, be proud of your accomplisment!

  9. You can do it!! I started doing the C25K a while ago too and was shocked that I accomplished a mile. I had to break up with running for a little while but I will complete a 5K before this year is finished. I can attest that running outside, on the track, and on the treadmill is different. I started outside then moved to the indoor track at the gym, then tried the treadmill a few times to see how far I was actually running. I liked running with other people the best maybe when you get to the race you will be motivated. Good luck and you CAN do it!!

  10. You can do it. Like others mention, running on harder surfaces requires (for me) really great shoes and running outside is so much more motivating than around an indoor track. No doubt you can finish this 5K. It will be over before you know it. 8 weeks of running! Congratulations!

  11. I didn’t read all the comments either, but I was glad that Shelley commented, because I remember some of her earliest posts about running, and being ready to quit after four minutes. Plus, I’m no expert, but I was going to say that all your treadmill running is not a waste. Your muscles just have to figure out how to transfer those muscles into the outdoor running muscles. Can you get outdoors more than once a week. Even if its for 10 minutes here or there, I think that would help.

    I’m so proud of you for doing this!

  12. Jill, you are stinking amazing that you can do this AT ALL. I know you’re frustrated with yourself, but I think you’re doing a great job. Even trying is more than most people will do.

  13. I know how you feel. We all know how you feel.

    But honestly, why are you picking an exercise that you hate? Or that – dare I say – can’t do? Not that we shouldn’t try and excel at something but running isn’t the be all end of all of exercise, health and fitness. Maybe you need to look at if from a different perspective. I don’t run. I don’t run outside. Does this make me not fit? Or not healthy? Absolutely not. A lot of overweight individuals (or unfit) really do feel that when they are able to run… they will be able to accomplish anything. Or that running is the ‘perfect’ exercise.

    It doesn’t have to be. If it isn’t the perfect exercise for you, it isn’t. Nothing much else you can do about it. You can slog your way through, you could get good at it eventually, but if it isn’t supposed to be your niche – then why force it?

    Have you tried olympic weight lifting? Powerlifting? TRX suspension training? Kettlebell training? Tabatas? HIIT training? Interval training? Biking? Swimming? A martial art? Any one of these things may fit you PERFECTLY. And I mean absolutely perfectly. You will enjoy the workout, you will look forward to it, you will love it. You will tell everybody about it. Some days you won’t 100% like it, but those days you will still 95% like it and on those days you will only look forward to the next time it is perfect even more.

    There is something out there for everybody that will be absolutely perfect for your body, for your style, for your life. Running may not be that.

    I hope this doesn’t come off as anything other than what it is intended to be: motivation.


    1. I know this great advice is for Jill, but I’m gonna take it, too! (Where were you two years ago? LOL jk)

      ” A lot of overweight individuals (or unfit) really do feel that when they are able to run… they will be able to accomplish anything. Or that running is the ‘perfect’ exercise.” — I completely relate to that. I did enjoy the C25K on some level and was glad I did it, though.

    2. Thanks for the comment Heidi. I don’t believe I said that I hated running. In fact, I really do love it and I love how it makes me feel. I just didn’t expect the transition from treadmill to track to be so hard. And I’m 100% certain that I CAN do it, I just have to tweak a few things to make it easier.

      And all of those other exercises you mentioned? Not a fan. I have no interest in doing any of those things. I have, however, always been interested in running, which is why I chose to start C25k.

      I don’t think running is the end all be all of fitness. Training for this race isn’t really about fitness or weight loss at all – it’s about setting a goal and reaching it.

      1. I totally get that! And if running IS your thing, it’s sucky that the transition was as shitty as it was.

        That is totally cool that you love it. 😀 I just really hoped you weren’t on the bandwagon that I had described, because you can probably agree… a lot of people do feel that way.

        I guess I am coming from the perspective that if I did try running (as in…long distance running…and I have before) I would feel like a total failure and not in the good kind of ‘I can do better next time failure’. It is great that you love it and great that it is goal. You can reach this and you can do better. 🙂

        1. And re-reading my comment I did say that you hated it and I was probably a little bit more tough love than I should have been considering I’m basically a stranger. Sorry ’bout that. You should grace in your comment back to me and I appreciate that!!

          much respect

  14. I am way late in commenting. You got lots of great advice. I will just add my experience. I started just like you. I was forced to run outside when there was a fire at my gym and it closed for a few weeks. I hated it at first. It was hard and I ran too fast and it just felt wrong. Then I started using so I’d kn

  15. Darn. Hit done by accident.

    So I’d know how far I was running. Then I got a garmin running watch for Christmas. Which meant I could see my pace and distance just like on the TM. This was KEY for me to run outside. Now I can barely tolerate the TM. this was 5 year ago. It doesn’t happen with one run. It’s a brand new sport off the TM which you are keenly aware of. But you can conquer it just like you have conquered running so far.

    The 20 minute milestone is a big hurdle. You will get past it. It’s still hard for me to run that long sometimes esp when I first start. Be patient. Wait until you do a long run and the endorphins kick in after 45 minutes and you feel like you’re flying.

    My first 5k I didn’t Not run the whole thing. I took brief walk breaks. So what? I still finished that baby and it rocked.

    Can wait to hear your race report in March!!!!!

  16. Oh good grief I didn’t proof that last one.

    I meant “just wait” until you do a long run– because you WILL do a long run someday soon and you’ll know what all the fuss is about! 3 miles is my least favorite distance. All the work with none (or few) of the feel good endorphins.

    And take out that “Not” after “didn’t.” I sound like a doofus. 🙂

  17. The C25K has been my Everest too. It seems like we have the opposite problem. I struggle more on the treadmill than I do outside. It took me over two years but I finally got through 30 minutes of straight running and had to stay on the dreadmill even longer to complete the 3.1 miles but I finally did it and I know you will too. Keep the faith, keep pushing and keep trying. I’ll see you at the summit. The view is spectacular 😉

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