Thursday, May 2, 2013

12 Ways To Not Sweat The Small Stuff With Your Running

I have long been a fan of the “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” (DSTSS) books, mostly because I feel I need constant reminders to let things go that don’t ultimately matter.


What I mean by that is – I don’t want to worry about the “littler” things that I won’t even remember a year from now. It also means not taking myself so seriously. Sometimes you just have to go with things and not analyze, obsess or wish they were different. Wishing things were different only makes you dislike the present moment, so knock it off.

Some of my favorite DSTSS points:

  • Think of your problems as potential teachers
  • Everyday tell  at least one person something you like, admire or appreciate about them
  • Make peace with imperfection
  • Become a better listener

As I was re-reading some of these great reminders the other day, I was thinking about how we, as runners, can lighten up about our running. Running is meant to be a release, a gratifying physical activity, a stress reliever – not a chore or a mental and physical ambush.

That said, here are 12 ways to not sweat the small stuff with your running:

1. Allow yourself to miss a run or two – Resist getting bent out of shape if you need to miss a training day because you are sick, overly tired, or feeling a nagging ache or pain. Better to take an extra day off to recover than prolonging an illness or making yourself susceptible to injury. You are not a slave to your training plan. It is a guide to help you run your best race possible. This means getting to the start line healthy and not over trained.


2. Leave the Garmin at home sometimes– While you might have time goals and be training at certain paces, it’s a good mental break to run based on feel and not pace now and again. Running “naked” also gives you a chance to stop judging yourself for once.

3. There will always be another race – Have a terrible day where you hit the wall, crapped your pants, or failed to meet your time goal? Keep it in perspective. You will have a chance for redemption. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move forward.


4. Injuries will come and go – If you’ve been running long enough, you’ve probably been injured at some point. Understand that this is temporary. Rest, recover, follow doctor’s orders. You will run again, just not now. Read THIS POST and THIS POST to help you cope when you are spiraling down into the deep dark place of wanting to punch every runner you see.

5. Race against yourself only – The surest way to feel badly about your running is to compare yourself to others. There will always be someone faster and someone who can run further. And…there will always be someone slower who cannot run as far as you do. Accept yourself where you are, set manageable goals and work your ass off to achieve them.

6. Let yourself have an off day – Some days you will go out and run and it will simply suck.  Your toe hurts, your stomach is rebelling, the weather is too hot or too cold, you’re hung-over, the wind is ridiculous. You feel like you hate running. Allow yourself the experience of having a bad run and don’t over analyze it. It happens to everyone. Chances are, your next run will be much better.

7. Keep good company – Who you hang out with (or run with) can have a huge positive or negative impact on your life. Talk about running with those people who support your goals and want the best for you.


8. Don’t worry if you gain a couple of pounds– You may find that you actually gain weight while training or running consistently. This is not that uncommon (read an article I wrote about gaining weight while marathon training HERE) and there can be lots of reasons for it, especially during marathon training.  Now, if you’ve put on 20 pounds while training…that’s a different story.

9. Running is only part of your life, not your entire life – When you have a passion like running, you can find yourself becoming obsessed. Ever heard: “How do you know someone is training for a marathon?” “Because they will tell you.” We all get wound up in our training goals. It affects what we eat, read, talk about and do. But in the midst of it all, there are other parts of your life that need attention. And, remember not EVERYONE wants to hear about your running.

10. Spend some time on the other side – Instead of running a race, volunteer for a race. Understand and appreciate all that goes into putting on a good race. Observe how others push through their suffering – it’s actually quite motivating.

11. Have gratitude – If you are able to run, your body is doing you a favor. If you are able to run it means you have legs, you are not injured, you are alive. If you are able to run it is a good day. Don’t take that for granted.

12. Give other runners a break – We’ve all had the experience of running down a path, road or trail and coming across another runner who doesn’t smile or wave at us. Instead of cursing your fellow runner, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe their dog just died. Maybe they are in pain. Maybe they are blind (doubt it). The point is, we never know what someone is going through. Smile and wave anyway. (Read this story to remember that we NEVER know how we might affect people).

What’s one point above you can relate to?

Are you one to sweat the small stuff? About what?



  1. All good reminders especially the one about telling at least one person each day what you like/appreciate about them.

  2. #9 hits close to home. I was training for the Santa Barbara Marathon last Fall when my Dad became very ill. I missed several long training runs because I was on the road traveling to see him in the hospital. He passed away in March of this year and I don't regret a single run I missed.

    P.S. I ran the marathon, I was slow, but I finished it.

  3. Great post! I'm nursing an ankle injury right now and I've found it hard to relax and allow myself to heal. I have to constantly remind myself that there will always be other races, and the longer I rest, the faster I'll heal.

  4. Thanks for this post - good reminders!

  5. I can relate to #1-12! Love every one of these - I need to print and hang on my mirror so I see this every day!!

  6. I’m wrestling with seven all of the time. I have great friends, but NONE of them are runners, so when I’m a little stressed or getting overwhelmed with my schedule, they’re suggestion is always to remind me that I can skip a run or a workout (which I already know is true). HOWEVER, when I tell them I’m going to skip our weekly taco and beers night or some other sit around and get drunk event, they never seem to quite understand why I might not see that as a fulfilling use of my time. Sometimes I totally do, sometimes I don’t. It’s a push-pull that I’ve taken way too long to figure out. Love my friends, appreciate their support, just feel like reading at home is sometimes a better use of my time. Boo hoo. I’ll live.

    And I really think I should volunteer at a race soon. I think it will do a lot for my spirit and perspective. Great post.

  7. You know, I see those books in stores so often, and hear people talk about them so much that I forget I haven't actually read them. (Kinda like how I sometimes forget that I haven't actually run a marathon, because I talk to and internet-stalk so many people who have.)
    I'm pretty laid back about most things, but I definitely haven't made peace with imperfection. As far as my running goes, I'm generally best about 10 & 11, worst at 2 & 4. All great reminders, for sure!

  8. Great post...thanks for the reminders.

  9. I actually made myself do 10 hill repeats yesterday for griping about running... Totally right about number 11. I even self reflected in my blog. Eek! I felt so guilty, so I realized that I am blessed to be a runner!

    I love your posts!

  10. I wore one of your "shut up and run" shirts during a 10 miler in RI on Sunday. I women came up to me and said she loved my blog! It was funny, the shirt got a lot of comments all around!!

  11. Being injured has certainly changed my attitude about missing runs - shoot, I've missed so many now, one or two more can't hurt!

  12. I basically sweat everything that I have no control over!!!! Frustration at it's finest.
    #8.......I can definitely relate to.

  13. Yup Yup Yup.

    Good post.

    I swear will only sweat the BIG stuff now. 8)


  14. "Keep Good Company" - yep!! Let's go for a run soon!!! I need to call or text you soon to catch up. Still beam when I listen to your voice mail on my bday. :)


  15. They were all such good tips for this week. I was wrecked after a big couple of weeks so I skipped Monday's run (with a lot of guilt) and my other runs have been a little ordinary. With some races coming up in the next couple of weeks I was starting to freak out a little. There WILL be other races and I am not a slave to my program. Life will go on. There, I've let it all go.

  16. Not running for a year taught me more on how to handle all those things. I knew all of them but being forced off the road is where I really learned them

  17. I needed this today. Tomorrow, I'm running my first half marathon since having twins three years ago (third half overall.) My training was going fairly well and I thought Id make my time goal and possibly PR. Two days ago I started getting chest congestion. Today its pretty bad, chest and head congestion, coughing etc. I was soooo bummed and pissed knowing this will probably slow me down enough not to meet my goal. I needed to remember that atleast I ONLY HAVE A COLD. I can still run, probably slower and may not meet my goal, but I still get to run the race. I was still able to accomplish 12 weeks of training. I have finally returned to my good habits with exercise and running. I am very blessed and a stupid cold doesn't change that! ~Julie

    1. I can completely relate to your situation. I trained for 16 weeks for my fourth half marathon and was feeling stronger than ever, dreaming of a PR. It was the OKC Memorial half marathon last weekend. A few days before the race I started getting sick ... felt terrible before the race and decided to walk it instead of run.

      This was a tough decision because I had wanted to run strong for my cousin who passed away in March. However, my friend was walking her first half marathon, and being there to help her through that was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything.

  18. THANK YOU, I needed to read this today. Getting way too deep into my own head. =)

  19. Love this perspective. It really is almost all small stuff.

  20. sandhi sudha plus says that ,
    that blog is really awesome posting i like it very much .. and be away form

  21. I'm sweating over the stupid MN snow we are getting today! I'm so sick of this weather....thanks for your post today, I"ll go buy a cute little skort instead of a run and look forward to the 70s temps next week

  22. All of these are good tips. Sometimes I have a hard time applying them though, especially when I miss a run or workout.

  23. Thanks for posting this!

    I need to check out those books!

    I always try to have gratitude. I feel like I'm lucky to be able to run, others aren't so fortunate.

  24. I am sweating right now! My first half is Sunday and I KNOW I will do OK but I'm still a hot mess! My husband constantly tells me I worry too much (which, in turn, makes me worry more...) and he says to stop thinking about it and just DO IT (Mr. Nike, right there).

    One other thing is to always CHOOSE to show love to those you love - it sometimes has to be a conscious choice (like when they steal the covers and you want to bonk them with your pillow), but it makes a HUGE difference in perspective.

  25. Numbers 3 & 4, during my last marathon I hit the wall, cramped up, still managed to finish, with a crappy time.
    I was recovering from sinusitis and bronchitis, my girlfriend had encouraged me to drop to the half.

  26. Great list with some stuff that really resonates with me at the moment. I've just had to pull out of marathon because I picked up a late injury, so it was good to read something that helped re-frame my perspective again and put a smile on my face.

  27. I ran my 1st half and it didn't go as planned. Hit the wall and had to walk part of it. I never walked during training. Meanwhile, my boss also ran a half today and PR'd by 19 minutes. Was feeling a little down but number 3 & 5 put it in perspective.

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  29. Needed this!! Every one rings so true for me!!! Thanks!!

  30. I'm working on #5. I have a couple of fun "rivalries" amongst my running friends, but that can eat at me if I'm not keeping up or having a bad day.
    I also relate to #10-love volunteering at races & aid stations.

  31. I needed this :o) Thank you!

  32. Great post. Thanks for the reminders to not let those little things get to us.

  33. I really needed this today. Thanks =)

  34. I just finished with #4. Injury is healed and I'm getting back to it so the urge to slug other runners is waning, thank goodness. (sorry, I'm a bit behind on my blog reading!)