Running can be a life-changing activity, but unfortunately, a lot of runners will never get the chance to fall in love with it before they decide it is too hard and quit. There are a lot of different reasons that people give up on running, but there are even more reasons to keep going.
Let’s first take a look at the reasons that runners hang up their shoes, and then some of the ways to make it an activity you want to do for life.
Falling Out of Love with Running
Let’s be honest, there are a lot of reasons that running can suck. Even people who have run their entire lives don’t enjoy every single run. The important thing is pushing past the rough days, learning from your mistakes, and continuing to grow as a runner.
Everyone is going to make mistakes when they get started. The fewer of them you can make, the more likely you are to stick with running for a long time. When you do make a mistake (and you will), make sure you learn as much as you can from it, which will help you avoid making it again in the future.
Running Every Run Too Hard
One of the most common mistakes that new runners make is running every run too hard. A lot of people think that every run needs to be faster than their last one, or they aren’t going to get any faster. This couldn’t be farther from the truth, but a lot of runners don’t realise this and find running too hard. If they’d just slowed down a little bit and smelled the roses, they may have run for long enough to fall in love with it.
Allowing the Weather to Get in Their Heads
If you are new to running, it can be easy to let the weather control all your plans, especially if you live or train somewhere with extreme weather changes. Most new runners avoid any inclement weather and cancel runs. If they do go out in it, they already have it in their mind that the run is going to suck because the weather isn’t perfect. You can’t control the weather on race day, so it is best to do some training in it just in case the weather on race day is less than ideal.
Taking Advice from the Wrong People
We all know at least one; that friend who can go against every piece of popular running advice, and still be a great runner.
For the rest of us, following what has been proven to work is the best way to become stronger and better runners. If someone gives you some advice that seems a little bit off, run it by another runner or coach who you trust before implementing it into your training.
Wearing the Wrong Shoes
As your feet take all of the impacts of every step, finding the correct pair of shoes can make all the difference in the world.
Wearing the wrong type of shoe can cause unnecessary injuries, which is a very common reason for people to give up on running too soon.
A lot of new runners don’t even realise there are different kinds of shoes, not just one big category of “running shoes.”
Wearing a Pair of Shoes for Too Long
A lot of new runners forget that their shoes will only last for so many kilometres of running, and that they will likely be worn out before they look worn out. Most quality shoes are good for approximately 500-800 kilometres (300-500 miles) depending on how well you take care of them. Rotating through different pairs of shoes will help each pair last a bit longer, as the materials in the soles will have some time to bounce back before they get run in again.
Signing up for Races They Aren’t Ready For
One of the best ways to make yourself hate running is to sign up and run a race that you aren’t ready for. Nothing will make you hate running more than dragging your body through a half or full marathon that you aren’t properly trained for. If you do happen to finish, and don’t get injured somewhere out on the course, you likely won’t look back on the experience as a very enjoyable one. A lot of new runners give up on races after a scenario like this, and just assume that racing isn’t for them.
Social media can be a great source of motivation and encouragement. It can also be brutal on your ego as a new runner because everyone seems like they can run farther and faster than you can.
Comparing yourself to other runners online is setting yourself up for failure, as every single runner is different, and at different points in their fitness journeys. Most runners only post their good runs too, so keep that in mind if you do look at other runners’ stats.
Overtraining is one of the easiest ways to turn yourself off of running.
Most new runners don’t even realise they are doing it until they are burnt out and ready to quit.
Rest days, or even rest weeks after a heavy training cycle, are incredibly important to being a happy, healthy runner. Some runners will even take a month or two off after a busy racing season, and then start the next season perfectly rested and healed.
Running the Same Route Every Run
One of the greatest aspects of running is getting to see amazing places and sights, all on foot.
While some runners never run the same route twice, some runners will run the same route every time they run. Not only is this not great for your fitness, but it is also downright boring, and probably won’t keep you very inspired to run.
Not Eating or Drinking Enough
Most new runners are guilty of it at some point; having no clue how or what to eat or drink on a run, so they just don’t. By not properly fuelling before and during a run, you are sabotaging your performance, as your body can’t perform its best when it isn’t fuelled and hydrated properly.
One of the most common mistakes is overstriding. A lot of new runners think that a longer stride is better when the opposite is true.
Overstriding can not only lead to injuries such as shin splints, but it will cause you to run slower as well. When your leg hits the ground fully extended, it slows you down a bit as your leg is acting like a brake by hitting the ground straight.
By shortening up your stride, your feet will land closer to the centre of your body. This means your foot is already moving in a backward direction before it even touches the ground, propelling you forward with much less exertion.
Not Having a Coach
Not every runner gets into running to set new PBs or to qualify for the Boston Marathon, but that doesn’t mean that having a coach won’t be extremely helpful.
Most new runners decide to learn themselves, and then get a coach later on down the road. Unfortunately, a lot of those runners won’t stick with it long enough to get to that point, which likely could have been avoided if they’d had a coach in the first place.
Falling In Love With Running
So now that we’ve gone over all the ways to fall out of love with running, let’s take a look at how to fall in love with running and have it become a part of your life long term.
Not every single person who laces up running shoes at some point in their lives will fall in love and keep doing it for life, but with the tips below you’ll have the best chance of running forever.
Take Time Off For Injuries
A very common mistake, especially in newer runners, is not letting injuries heal to 100% before getting back to running. This will often lead to re-injuring the same thing down the road, and then being forced to take more time off. Taking a little bit of extra time to make sure you are at 100% will make a huge difference later in training.
Getting Fitted For Proper Shoes
Wearing the proper shoes is one of the best ways to avoid injuries when running. By going into a specialty running or shoe store, they will be able to analyse your gait for you and recommend the kind of shoes you should be wearing (support, stability, or neutral).
Changing Up Your Route and Running Surfaces
If you find yourself getting a little bit tired of your running routes, try something new!
Running in new places is a great way to reignite the spark if you are feeling a bit down about your running. A simple change of running surface can have a great effect on your mental outlook too, so ditch the road shoes and lace up your trail shoes now and then.
Getting A Coach
Having a coach is one of the best ways to become a long-term runner. A coach will help you set attainable goals, help you avoid overtraining or running yourself into an injury, and can help you select races that are appropriate for your skill level.
Even if you aren’t a “fast” runner, races are one of the absolute best parts of running.
The screaming crowds, the atmosphere, the medals, and the scenery at each race being different are all great reasons to sign up for a few different races. If you feel like you’re getting into a bit of a slump with your running, try signing up for a race you’ve never run before.
Destination races around the islands can also be a great reason to travel to a place you’ve never been before.
Don’t Let the Weather Beat You
Running in less-than-perfect weather can stop a lot of inexperienced runners from getting out the door, but once you’ve learned to dress for it, running in the rain or snow can be extremely fulfilling.
Once you’ve figured out how to properly dress for it, running in rainy weather can actually become some of the most enjoyable runs. Most other walkers and runners will stay home if the weather is less than ideal, so you are a lot more likely to have the track or trail to yourself.
Setting Appropriate Goals
Setting goals is an understated skill that successful runners are often fairly good at.
By setting appropriate goals for your fitness and training level, you are giving yourself the best chance to have success.
This applies not just to race goals, but also long-term running goals, such as mileage run in a year, etc. Having goals that are within reach is a great way to stay motivated, especially during a tough training cycle.
Hydration and Nutrition
Getting the most out of your body requires it to be fuelled and hydrated properly. Once you have a nutrition and hydration plan figured out for before and during runs, it can help you unlock your full potential. This can be a game changer for a lot of runners as they increase the mileage of their races.
The most important aspect to remember when beginning to run is that every single runner is different, in every way.
Take your running journey at your own pace, as that is the best way to ensure that running is something that becomes a part of you, not just something you do. If you feel yourself falling out of love with running a little bit, take a few weeks off and then try again.
You may be surprised how much you miss it, and how quickly you fall back in love with it.
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