It took me years to break my mental barrier with running. It was always used as a form of punishment in the sports I played in my youth, so I always associated running with pain. That, and every time I tried to run, I ran way too fast and too far; this approach always ended in failure. The following are 10 things that helped me go from a hate to love relationship with running.
Start From Where You Are
Running is a high-intensity, high-impact activity. It demands that you start from where you are, fitness- and experience-wise, versus where you want to be (or where your boyfriend is). When you push to run a mile without stopping when you’re body isn’t ready, it hurts. You get sore and end up in the bite-me zone before you’re done. And who wants to keep doing that?
Set yourself up for running happiness by following a plan that starts from where you are fitness-wise, and builds slowly based on how your body responds to the training. For instance, if you’re coming off the couch, start with walking 30 minutes 3 to 4 times per week for 2 to 3 weeks, and then begin to sprinkle in running for seconds within your walk (30 seconds of running followed by 2 to 3 minutes of walking repeated for 20 minutes).
If you’re fit, but not a runner, perform interval workouts 2 to 3 times per week by warming up with walking, running 1 to 2 minutes at a comfortable speed (not fast!), and follow each running interval with at least double the time in walking to recover. Progress slowly by adding more running time to your intervals and slowly reducing the amount of walking time. See my training plan, Zero to Running, for an example of how to slowly and safely progress your running time.
Don’t Comparison Shop
It can be tempting to head out for a run and within minutes start comparing yourself to others who are faster and don’t feel new runner shame. Don’t because everyone has to start in the same place … at the beginning. What you may not realize is the woman who is staring at you from a distance is doing so in admiration and thinking, “I wish I could do that.”