People are always telling me how tough running is. They just can’t seem to get out the door. They don’t have time. They are tired. Their aunt told them it was bad for their knees. They have ear hair that needs to be plucked and there is simply no time to run.
Then there are the moans and groans about how hard the actual act of running is! It makes you breathe hard! It is exhausting! It makes you sweat! It gives you side stitches and gas! Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think the majority of the time people make running harder than it has to be. Here are six ways you or someone you know might be sabotaging yourself/themselves:
1. Overthinking – Thinking too much is the most powerful motivation-buster (in my opinion). Some people’s brains perceive running as hard and grueling. This means that if you give the brain a choice, it will typically try to talk you out of getting out the door. The trick is to not make it a choice. It needs to be a decision. When you make a plan to run (and I think it’s a good idea to make running appointments with yourself that you put on your to-do list), know that it is going to happen much like you know a doctor’s appointment is going to happen. Do not have the internal argument of whether to go or not. Just go.
2. Expecting too much – Raise your hand if you judge yourself while you run. Maybe you think “I'm too slow” or “I’ll never be able to finish a race” or “I can’t possibly run ten miles.” I want to ask you – is it fun to be so hard on yourself all the time? Aren't you supposedly out to run because you sort of enjoy it and it makes you feel good? Don’t soil your run by constantly second guessing yourself. Do what you can do, and know it was good enough that day.
3. Waiting for the right moment – I cannot tell you how many runs I have had this year where I’ve been uncomfortable due to being too tired, being too hot, being too cold, being too busy (so the run felt rushed), being lambasted by the wind, or being sort of sick to my stomach. I did it anyway. Although there will be those “perfect” days where everything comes together, most runs are not that way. If you wait for the ideal conditions, you are going to get really out of shape. Again – assess the situation and do what you need to do to make it happen. Excuses are unflattering.
15 mile run on a January day in Colorado when it was 5 degrees. Ever step sucked.
4. Thinking you have to go far and fast to be a “real runner” – Time and time again people classifying themselves as “not real runners” because they perceive that they run too slow and that they can’t run far enough. Guess what? No one gets to define you as a runner. A world class runner might run 4 minute miles. An average Joe (or Josephine) runner might run 10 to 11 minute miles. Who the hell cares? In my opinion, the second that you break into a run from a walk, you are a runner.
5. Believing that since it has hard you are a sucky runner – Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: running is hard. That is why when you run with other people you can hear them breathing like they just smoked a pack of Marlboros and can’t get a decent amount of air in their lungs. That is why only .02% of the US population ran a marathon last year. That is why people probably tell you all the time that they would run too if it wasn’t so difficult. Life is about choices. Some people choose to suffer a bit but feel accomplished, and some people avoid discomfort and stay forever in that boring place called “comfort zone.”
6. Worrying about having to poop/pee, being too hot or cold, or what you look like – Yes, it’s true that running is messy. It can involve everything from runny noses and snot to stomach cramps that have you desperately searching for a potty or a bush to uncontrollable farts that you are certain will propel you right into a ditch to sweating so much you have pit marks the size of coconuts. Guess what? It happens to everyone. I know there are some dainty girls out there who claim they don’t experience the nasty side effects of running, but I don’t believe it. Don’t be afraid to let your body do what it does when you put it the test. It can, in fact, it can be kind of liberating (well, desperately searching for a bathroom to avoid a mess is not all that fun, but it feels pretty awesome afterwards).
You’ve probably surmised by now why this blog is called “Shut Up and Run.” The things that are tough in life require making a finite decision and not surrendering to excuses. Just because it’s hard, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.