I’m generally up for trying any kind of fitness, but running is the one I have a love/hate relationship with. I love it because it is free, simple, exhilarating, meditative and rewarding. It’s also the easiest way to get a shiny medal by doing a race! But at times I hate it because, well, it hurts, it can be uncomfortable, it can be boring, you can pick up injuries and success – my success anyway – can be inconsistent.
On balance, though, the good outweighs the bad. There is nothing quite like feeling your heart pumping, your lungs working and your legs burning, while your minds battles with your body, willing yourself to carry on and go further. Or the sense of adventure you get when you explore new places and discover interesting things. Then there’s the rush of relief when it’s over and your body can normalise again. It’s a wonderful and addictive form of exercise – so why, so often, do I struggle to just get out there and do it?
Since signing up to the Brighton Half Marathon this year, I’ve been thinking about my relationship with running. How do I get over my sometime reluctance to get outside and run? I know I’ll feel better for it – that’s true for any kind of exercise – but often that thought isn’t enough to convince me to lace up my kicks and hit the road. So these are the new tactics – or mind tricks – I’ve been telling myself to make sure I don’t take the easy way out, and that I do put in the training miles:
This one is a way of resetting your expectations and dealing with any pre-run nerves. I tell myself that this run is really just a bit of fun. This run will not define you or your limits. It’s just a run – stop over-thinking it!
I use this one in the days and hours before a run. I think to myself that this run is most definitely going to happen, it’s scheduled in, it’s just a part of my day and it will get done. If you talk yourself into something, you’re more likely to do it.
So you start this run. Who cares whether it’s a good one or a bad one, or if you stop before your planned distance. You might get sweaty, or wet or achy, but at the end of the day (or ideally before that time) you will get home and everything will be alright.
Whenever I’m enjoying a good run, I try to take that euphoric feeling and bottle it up to save for later. Then, when I don’t really feel up for it, I uncork that bottle and think yes – that is how I want to feel, so yes I will go for a run!
This is my favourite. I use this one before and, more often than not, during a run. You will smash calories when running, and you will have an insatiable hunger when you return. It is enormously satisfying to satiate that hunger – and the interesting thing is that, after all that exercise you’re more likely to choose a healthy option than pig out on sugary rubbish. Win win.
I hope some, or all, of these tactics will chime with you and help you get over those hurdles in your mind that are preventing you from just getting out there and doing it. Good luck!