Beginners Excuses and How To Beat Them
Nobody starts running with a plan to immediately quit, but the statistics show that something like 70% of people who start a new fitness program quit soon after.
Full disclosure: I won’t cite my source there because I don’t have one. I was looking into the numbers and found dozens of numbers that varied depending on how it was defined (‘quit working out,’ ‘quit the gym,’ ‘gave up on goal’). But nearly all of them fell between 60-80%.
How To Not Quit Running
How to not quit running often comes down to one simple idea: don’t let the excuses win.
Notice I said simple, not easy.
I Don’t Have The Time
Your life is busy. My life is busy. Everyone’s life is busy.
Don’t bail on a run today by saying you’ll run tomorrow when things will be less crazy. I guarantee that tomorrow will be just as hectic. Something unexpected will happen and tomorrow’s calendar will fill up just as quickly as today’s did.
Here’s the secret: no one has the time to run. They make the time to run.
What To Do
Make running a priority
Enter your run into your daily calendar as a non-negotiable appointment with yourself.
Things will happen during the day that will seem more important than going for a run. If you’ve done your run first thing in the morning, that other stuff can happen all day and it won’t matter (at least as far as your running is concerned).
The Weather Is Too … (hot, cold, rainy, humid)
Nothing is better than going for a run on a perfect day. Unfortunately, those days can be hard to come by. The reality is that some days are anything but perfect, but unless the conditions are actually dangerous (read: electrical storms or something actually unsafe), you can still run.
What To Do
Keep it indoors and hit the treadmill. However, depending on your opinion of the treadmill, this may not be an improvement.
Personally, I’d rather run in super high humidity (my least favorite running condition) than run on a treadmill, but if the weather is your main concern, not going out in it is one solution.
Prepare and dress appropriately
Think of it as an excuse for a shopping spree! Get the right gear for the conditions: a good rain jacket, a warmer coat, a good sweat-resistant sunscreen, a hydration pack to help beat the heat.
While it can be much harder to start a run in bad conditions, once you get started, I’ve found it’s usually not too bad.
If it’s raining, once you are wet you’re wet. Jump in the puddles and have fun. If it’s cold, you’ll warm up. If it’s hot, while you should slow your pace down, you’ll survive.
And the upside of running in terrible conditions is the serious bragging rights that come with running in adverse conditions. You will no longer be some fair-weather hobbyist, you’ll be a hardcore runner.
I Might Get Injured
Yes, It is possible you will get injured running.
But you could get injured doing anything. I run hundreds of miles a year and the only injury I’ve had that kept me from running (a broken foot) was incurred walking in street shoes to the bus stop – it had nothing to do with running!
You just never know.
What To Do
A fair amount of running injuries come from doing too much too fast, before your muscles and your joints have had time to adapt and strengthen.
I know you’ll be excited to start, but temper that excitement so you don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t do too many miles, and don’t push your pace too fast.
Get proper gear
Hand me downs, that pair you have in your closet from years ago, or a cheapy pair won’t cut it. Go to a local specialty store and get fitted by a professional who knows of what they speak. Get a pair of shoes that works for you, your running style, and your physiology.
Get a coach
Yes, you have to learn how to run.
Running can feel like a natural progression from walking, but bad form (which can be identified and corrected by a qualified coach) will cause injury nearly every time.
I’m Not Making Any Progress
Progress in running should be slow. That maybe won’t make you feel better, but you cannot go from couch to marathoner in a matter of weeks.
What To Do
Set objective measures
If your goal is something like ‘run faster’ that is a goal you will never reach. The goal posts will keep moving since there will always be a ‘faster’ to achieve. But if you have a specific goal: run a 12:00 mile, for example, one day you will do that. One day you will reach your goal and then you can set a new goal.
Set realistic expectations and intermediate goals
Again, if you are running for the first time, don’t plan on being marathon ready in a few weeks.
If your main goal is a longer-term goal (for example you do want to do a couch to marathon program) set lots of smaller, intermediate goals so you can still accomplish goals along the way.
I’m Bored (Or, I’d Rather Be…)
Running can be boring. There is no way around it. For any given run, I can come up with at least a dozen other things I’d rather be doing at that very moment (sleeping, watching Netflix, reading, journaling…)
Running can be an adjustment. It’s one of the few activities in our lives when we can’t pull out our phones and distract ourselves from our thoughts the second we get bored.
What To Do
Beat boredom by seeking out distractions. Run new routes, try a new pace, run with a group, hit the trail. Create a new running playlist or try a few new podcasts.
Embrace the boredom
The boredom of running can lead to a type of moving meditation. Not having any distraction is what can allow you to tap into your creativity and associative thinking that only seems to happen on a run (and in the shower).
Ask yourself a question and then head out the door and let your mind wander. Chances are you’ll make connections you hadn’t thought of before.
Create a reward for yourself related to your running. These ideally aren’t food related (since they will usually sabotage many health benefits of running), but since mine usually are food related (cupcakes!) It would hypocritical to not put it out there.
Create other rewards, or earmark a favorite podcast as something that you’ll only listen to on a run. Then you’ll have something to look forward to every run.
Be in training
Not everyone wants to race, but hear me out.
I’m terrible at running for its own sake, but the second I’ve laid out a training plan for a specific race, I’ll head out nearly 100% of the time. I respond to the structure of a plan, and the focus on the bigger goal. The runs themselves become less important.
It won’t work for everyone, but it can help bust the boredom to know there is a purpose to the run.
I’m Too Tired
Running isn’t something you do because you have the energy, you get energized by going for a run.
What To Do
If you get your run out of the way first thing, it will be done before you have time to talk yourself out of it.
And since you are running early, you’ll expect to be tired, which often makes it easier to be tired.
Wake up by running
Run even when you are tired. You’ll feel more awake when you are done. I promise.