It’s easier to keep going than it is to stop and start again. The next time you’re on your run and thinking about walking for just one second think about that. Think of yourself as a train. It takes forever to get going once you stop.
Why is this though?
I mean…to start with running and exercise is not something our body tends to naturally want to do. Right? I’m not saying it isn’t natural but I am saying that we have to force it into that position.
We normally are at rest which means we’ll want to stay at rest. But if we develop and create enough inertia, whether mental or physical, we might as well keep ourselves going. We shouldn’t stop that inertia. We should let it carry us.
Let’s look at scenario number one.
You’re on a run and you stop running.
Why? Why did you stop?
To me, there are only two legitimate reasons why we stop on our runs. The first is because our heart rate is way too high and lowering your pace isn’t working. If your heart rate is high and you just stop, doesn’t count. You have to have tried controlling it yourself. Letting it lower naturally through a slower pace is not only healthier but it teaches you what your conversational running pace really is.
The second reason is for a bad pain. Now, lots of different kinds of pain can surface on a run and over time we learn what our own, personal bad pains are. Bad pains are normally sharp and reoccuring. Muscle burning is okay. Even some blisters are okay although it might not hurt to figure out if your form, lacing, sock, or shoe is causing the issue before you really knock yourself out of the game.
But bad pains are…well…bad. And you’ll learn them soon enough. Some need to be warmed up which means that first chunk of your run can be spent slower and warming those muscles up. OR you can hop on a foam roller and roll out your legs immediately before your run. This actually really helps your legs prepare for a run. Personally, I foam roll before and after my runs then again right before bed (that’s when I fascia blast too). This was on the suggestion of a physical therapist. And I forever thank that physical therapist.
Because it eliminates the sore pains or the ones that go away, I have a pretty good handle on the pains that do arise. So when I get a bad pain, I run a few more steps to see what’s happening and then I stop. I’ll stretch because hey, sometimes muscles decide to be obnoxious and tighten up. I walk a little, see if the pain goes away. And then I’ll try to run again without starting my watch. Am I mad? Nope.
I don’t want to encourage myself to keep going if something is wrong. If something hurts just a little after my test, I’ll keep going until I can’t (hopefully it won’t get worse on my way home). If it doesn’t, I’ll keep going. Now here’s the hard part. If it is actually a problem and does really hurt as I keep going, I’ll stop. I’ll walk home or call someone to pick me up if I’m on a crazy long run and someone is around.
Because it’s dumb to push your body when it’s in pain.
Okay back to the topic at hand. If you aren’t broken, keep going. Don’t fiddle with your stride and don’t stop. Even if it feels impossible, remember that pushing your brain a mile past it’s comfort zone makes you able to run twice as far twice as easily.
Mental discomfort is just part of it.
The sooner we accept this the sooner we can push ourselves through today’s discomfort into tomorrow. And hey, there’ll be days when (because you’ve put in the mental legwork) you’ll be able to coast through your run no problem.
Second scenario is this: don’t stop running.
I know, I know. You thought I was already talking about that. Well now I’m talking about quitting. Do not let yourself quit.
And yes, it is that simple.
So various things will take us out of running. If it’s injury, set a date that you will stick to. Keep walking during the times you would run. Even lace up your shoes just to promise them you’ll go for a run. It’s so easy to get out of the habit, so don’t let yourself get out of the habit.
The second thing is just not coming back to it.
If you don’t want to be a runner, don’t be. But don’t say you’re a runner when you only run two months out of the year. Motivation comes in all forms but at the end of the day, I determine and define a runner as someone who pushes themselves to go out and run regardless of the conditions in themselves and outside. Runners are overcomers.
So why give up?
Just keep getting out there. What does it matter if you had a bad run? What does it matter if you put on weight? What does it matter if you feel like you can’t do it?
When it comes to running, nothing really matters besides running.
Because that’s what’s at the heart of it.
Run because you like to run. Not because you enjoy your body looking slim or because you have to fit into a dress. Run because you like to run. Otherwise, it’s just going to be a rough go of it. Accepting that you run because you like to run means that you can have a bad run, you can take some time off, and it’ll still be okay because you still like to run.
So if you have to take time off, if you have to walk on a run…don’t beat yourself up about it. Keep in mind that you do this for you. You love this. You have fun. It’s something you do solely for your body and mind.
If for no other reason, try to keep pushing through your hurdles for yourself. You can make it through just fine…you might even surprise yourself.