We’ve all been there.
You wake up tired, look at your calendar, and see you’re supposed to do a 5-mile run.
You desperately don’t want to do this run. A visit to the dentist and 14 loads of laundry sound more inviting than this run.
But are you being lazy or are you exhausted and slowly burning yourself out?
There could be a million reasons why you don’t want to run, but there are two biggies that are very different and should result in two very different responses:
I Don’t Wanna Run: I don’t wanna is a desire for comfort. The desire to be lazy (or at least not do something hard). It’s wanting to sit on the couch and watch Netflix instead of going for a run. The best answer to this is to run anyway.
I Need A Break: On the other hand, needing a mental or physical break can be an indicator you’re on the road to burnout or injury. The best answer to this is often to rest.
I Don’t Wanna Run vs. I Really Need A Break: Questions To Ask Yourself
Like so many other things in life, there are few hard and fast rules to know which camp you fall into and the signs vary greatly between people. Ultimately, you are in the best position to know how you respond to stress.
If you aren’t sure which camp you fall into, ask yourself these questions:
When Did You Realize You Didn’t Want To Run?
Here’s a personal example to illustrate:
I used to work in the city and would run after work. Very often, I’d be excited to run all day. I’d think about the route I’d run and the pace I wanted to do. On the bus ride home, I’d still be looking forward to my run.
Then I’d walk in the door and I’d suddenly have a million chores that sounded way more interesting than the run.
I wanted to run, right up until the time came to do it.
This is classic I don’t wanna.
On the other hand, if you have a hard time ever getting up much enthusiasm for your run, you may be leaning more into needing a break territory.
What Are You Thinking About Instead?
Are you dreaming of sitting on the couch in sweatpants instead of going for a run? You are likely seeking comfort.
However, if you don’t mind the idea of working out or doing other physical activity (it’s just the run you don’t want to do), you may be on the road to running burnout.
Is It Only Today’s Run Or Always?
Do you dread every single run or feel like you have been dragging for a while? If so, you may be overtraining. Review your training plan and make sure it’s appropriate for you and your running goals.
Is it only today’s run you don’t want to do? You’re likely just feeling a little lazy.
How Do You Feel About Your Final Goal?
Consider the bigger goal you are working towards (you do have one, right?)
Are you still excited about the final goal? Does your final goal still inspire you? Do you still want to accomplish it?
If so, do you need to modify your training plan or adjust your timeline to give yourself more time and space to accomplish that goal? Consider adjusting how you are going about working towards your goal.
However, it’s possible you are no longer inspired by the goal you set. Your goals and your priorities shift over time. Consider if you need to adjust the larger goal you are working towards. Continuing to push towards a goal you no longer believe in can make hard runs feel even harder.
Continuing with a goal just so you don’t disappoint your coach or your family, isn’t a great reason to keep striving towards a goal.
Why (really) Do You Not Want To Run?
This one may require a little self-reflection and honesty.
For some, ‘I don’t wanna’ is really fear or uncertainty (or one of a dozen other emotions) in disguise. Working towards a goal can be scary. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to set a PR is (by definition) not comfortable.
Coming close to accomplishing your goal can be a prime time for self-sabotage to creep in, whether that is due to fear of failure, or fear of success, or something else.
However, physical symptoms, general fatigue, or niggling issues (things that are not quite pains or injuries, but are smaller signs your body isn’t happy) can be signaling something else entirely. If there’s any chance of physical injury, get it checked out by a qualified professional.
What To Do With Your ‘I Don’t Wannas’
So you’re pretty sure you just don’t wanna run.
What do you do now?
Do It Anyway
If you just don’t wanna, do it anyway.
There’s no rule saying you have to want to do something to actually do it.
Mental Health Day
Take (the occasional!) day off. This can be a slippery slope if you start indulging the I don’t wannas, but sometimes the occasional day off can do a world of good.
Set Short Term Goals
If you are working towards a long-term bigger-picture goal, setting smaller achievable goals can keep you inspired for the short-term.
Set A Turn-Around Spot
Set a designated turn-around spot about a half mile from your starting point. If you start running and still aren’t feeling it when you get to that spot, give yourself permission to turn around and go home guilt-free.
I’ve done this for decades, and very often don’t feel like running. I’ve actually turned around maybe 5 times.
This can be a great way to get out the door and get over the starting bit.
Acknowledge Your Fear
If your ‘I don’t wanna’ is emotionally based, simply acknowledging the emotion (often it’s a fear of something), can make you feel much better.
Remember Your Why
Refocus on why you are running, why you (usually) enjoy it, and why you want to accomplish the goal you are working towards.
What about you? How can you tell the difference between I don’t wanna and I need a break?
Feature Photo: by Eduardo Flores via Unsplash