Running is not for everyone, it’s hard work, it can be boring and often feels physically impossible. That being said, running is one of the few sports that require little to no equipment and is great for fitness.
Having recently completed my first half marathon, after years of resenting the thought of going for a run, I’ve picked up a few things that helped me realise that going for a run is not something I hate but, as crazy as it might seem, I now look forward to!
Step 1: Set Yourself a Goal!
Whether it be run a marathon, a half marathon, a 10 km, a 5km or even just to run for 10 mins without stopping, a goal is essential to realising that getting good at running is far easier than you would expect. The theory is that setting a goal is linked to higher task performance. Furthermore, the more realistic and achievable the goal the greater the quality of the outcome will be. For example, if your goal is to get out of bed in the morning and wear matching socks, you are likely to achieve this. Then the next day you can graduate to getting out of bed, wear matching socks AND clean underwear! You’ll start to feel better about yourself and will begin to expect more from yourself. Similarly, with running, start small and work your way up to a bigger goal, to really notice the milestones you are achieving.
The perfect example of achievable goal setting for me was my aim to simply complete the half marathon. I did not care if it was in 6 hours or if I walked the whole way, setting an achievable goal of completing it allowed room for progress, meaning that I didn’t simply achieve my goal but I Smashed it out of the park finishing in under 3 hours and running the whole way.
Step 2: Training- Mind over Matter
Train with a friend, if you think they are better than you- good! Your inner competitive spirit will drag you through (kicking and probably screaming) when you feel like giving up on that “short” run.
The use of willpower to overcome physical problems is certainly not the easiest thing to achieve. Yet it is something that, when running, creeps up on you. For example, pushing myself to run the whole half marathon was something I had not planned to do. However, when faced with the potential feeling of being disappointed in myself, my mental strength shone through.
That voice in my head that usually tells me to stop because at the end of the day “it makes no difference to anyone other than me if I do” was totally squashed by my determination to prove myself wrong. I completed the whole half marathon without stopping purely because I didn’t want to let myself feel like I hadn’t done the best I could do.
Step 3: No Pain, No Gain
The no pain no gain mantra is a bit of an old wives’ tale, to a certain extent If it hurts, you’re doing something right! Obviously if you keep running on a broken ankle or a torn ligament you are only going to damage yourself further. But there is a sense of validation in a little muscle ache the day after a run. I am no stranger to feeling a little sense of accomplishment when complaining about muscle ache after a long run. It makes me feel like I’m initiating changes in my body even though scientifically just getting up out of your chair is good for you. So think of the pain as a little personal hype man!
Step 4: “Build a Fanbase”
Finally, build your own fanbase! The more people you tell about your big race or the goal you’r trying to achieve the more likely you are to feel guilty about not completing it. Like a little cheat code, or reverse psychology- guilt trip yourself into not backing out! A good way to do this is to do a sponsored run and try and raise funds for your charity of choice. This way you’re achieving your own goals, building a following AND giving back!
All these things are proven to make humans feel better about themselves, by boosting their self-esteem.
If you can get your head around these few things, I can’t guarantee you’ll love running, but you certainly won’t hate it anymore!
By Emma Steggles