5 Tips to Keep Running
If I had a dollar for every time I was out on a run and I desperately wanted to walk when I really didn’t need to or simply just throw in the towel for the day, I would be a rich woman. The runs that feel great and I run strong are amazing, and a reminder of just how much I love running. Sometimes, though, the miles seem endless and I need something, anything to finish it out. I think every runner has been there and it can get hard to break through those moments. I’ve found some great coping mechanisms for just those days.
notice other things. When the running gets hard, it’s time to start thinking about anything other than the fact that the running is hard. I’ll think about what I want for dinner that night or what I’m doing that weekend. I’ll make a mental to-do list. I’ll pray or think about the things I’m thankful for in that moment. In busy areas, I’ll people watch and notice what is going on around me, or even just marvel in the wonder of nature. I used to be almost exclusively a treadmill runner and I often find myself noticing flowers or clouds or animals, and thinking how awesome it is that I get to experience such things while doing something I love. Looking at the world around me and paying more attention to my surroundings is a great way to get my mind off the struggle.
use the music to your advantage. I love having fun with my music! The easiest solution is to find those clutch songs that are a surefire way to get me pumped up and moving! Lately, “One More” by Superchick is that song for me.
Every month or two, I’ll buy a few new songs or create a new playlist. Don’t fall back on the same standards you always use. Better yet, leave the headphones at home, and just run with you, nature, and your thoughts. When it’s the same old songs I’ve always run to, I’ll tell myself I’m not allowed to stop until the current song is over (and often times, that’s enough to get me over the hump), or on every chorus, I have to pick up the pace and get some speedwork in.
mix it up. Often times, when I struggle to get through a run, mixing up my route can make a world of difference. I’ve got some great loops for 3 and 4 miles that are really easy to fall back on because I know where I need to go to get the miles I need. I don’t have to think about where to turn, and I know at certain spots, I’ll hit the 2 mile mark or come up to a stoplight and potentially have a chance to catch my breath. Sometimes, something as simple as turning left instead of right at the start, and running the usual route backwards, is so helpful.
start counting. Counting, numbers, mental math – any of it is a great distraction. I’ll often break my run down into particular intervals (say, quarter miles) and figure out how many I’ve run and how far I have left. How many steps am I taking in a given minute? At the pace I’m going, how long will it take me to finish the run? I’ll count how many people walking their dogs I see, how many streetlights I pass, how many blue cars I see. Those number games can easily make the time pass!
“compete” with other runners. 99% of the time, I’m out there running by myself. It can be a lot easier to finish strong when you’ve got company out there, but sometimes that’s just not a realistic option. I am fortunate enough to live in an area with a pretty large running community, so I love to pretend that my Monday night run is a Saturday morning 10k and get in race mentality. If I see another runner up ahead of me, I try to pass them. Or, if someone passes me, I try to keep up with them – and hopefully pass them right back – as long as I can.
stop the excuses and JFDI (just f’ing DO it). Yes, running is hard. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. But, once I get in my head that it’s hard and my legs hurt and I’m tired and whatever else I can think of on that day, it makes it that much harder to get the miles in. I can come up with every justification in the book for why I’m struggling on a run, why I need to walk, but more often than not, I truly don’t need to. It’s more that the running gets hard and I want the easy way out. I’ve just got that idea in my head, and running is just as much of a mental sport as it is physical, sometimes every more so. On the days when my mind gets the better of me, I have to tell myself to shut up and just keep running.
When all else fails, I write a blog post in your head while I run because, well, that’s how this post came to be! Seriously though, at the end of the day, it’s about finding whatever works for you, in that run, to make it happen. What is helpful one time isn’t always helpful the next, and sometimes, I use every single thing I can think of to get those miles run and done. Let me be clear, walking breaks when you really need them or not getting all the miles you planned is not the worst thing in the world. It was truly only in the last year that I could consistently run three miles without needing to walk. I know that if I’ve tried everything I can, sometimes it’s just not my day to have a good run and that’s okay. Some miles are better than no miles.
What’s your go-to coping mechanism on those runs that get tough?