Over a decade ago I quit running.
I was struggling in so many areas of my life – too much work, kidney problems, depression, stress fractures…..
The very reason I had started running in the first place had gone and I blamed running for everything else.
I was angry and not pleasant to be around and to blame the running meant I could let myself off the hook and simply quit it.
I then spent the next 10 years quitting many things when the going got tough (relationships, hobbies, friends, business ideas).
Then I turned 40 last year and suddenly lots of things started to make sense. I saw a pattern to my quitting and worked out a solution that now helps me stick to my goals in most areas of my life.
I want to share the running example with you because it has led to me LOVING RUNNING AGAIN.
If you are struggling to stick to running, to improve and to enjoy it then this post is for you.
The top 5 reasons people quit running
1. Runners wait until they ‘feel like’ running.
If I waited until I felt like working/shopping/cleaning/running then I would still be in bed, under my sheets and binge-watching Netflix.
How often have you said to yourself “I will wait until I feel like…..”.
Then you never do it.
Well running is the same actually. Yes there will be days when you cannot wait to go out for a run but there will also be times when you don’t really feel like it. Those days, I find, are the ones when I go out running and feel incredible when I finish.
Waiting until you feel like running is a common problem:
a) You wait until you feel like running.
b) Several days then weeks go by and all of a sudden it has been a month since you last went.
c) You put your shoes on, go out for a run and it feels like HELL.
d) You decide running is horrible and then QUIT.
My tip to you with this is to decide at the beginning of the week when you are going to run, put it into the diary and it is then set in stone. I find this so helpful, I put my running first and make everything else fit around it.
2. Runners run at the wrong time of day (for them).
Do you know when you love to run most?
It is no good running in the morning if you are a night-owl.
People are usually split into three camps – morning, lunch-time and evening runners.
Work out which one you are and it will make all the difference.
I used to run with a friend years ago and the only time we could train together was after work – I found myself making excuses not to run as the day went on and then blow him out at the last minute.
My new running habit is that 90% of the time I run in the morning after a cup of tea or coffee. It sets me up for the rest of the day and I feel fantastic – happy and focused at work. The only exception is sometimes I go for an afternoon meeting and then run home.
So on your next three runs try morning, noon and evening and really assess which one you enjoyed most.
3. Runners try and battle through injury.
I am not talking about aches and little niggles here….if you ever run and feel sharp pain then stop. I mean it. Sharp pain is a warning sign that all is not well with your body.
I battled through injury when training for a marathon and ended up on crutches with a stress fracture on my femur. It took months and months to heal. When I honestly look back at why I kept running, it wasn’t that I was desperate to run the marathon….
I had got in such great shape that I was scared if I stopped…. I would put on weight and get wobbly again. That’s a hard fact to admit. I was in my early twenties then and wish so much that I hadn’t let it allow me to quit running.
Now I approach injury differently and here is how I want you to approach it:
I now see injury as a chance to get stronger, fitter, more flexible and ultimately a better runner.
Let me explain:
a) You get injured and can’t run.
b) You get a diagnosis and some physio perhaps.
c) You use your time strength training (it actually helped me become faster!) cross training (swimming really helped my running endurance) and yoga (made my running recovery much faster).
So getting injured doesn’t mean you have to quit running, sometimes it can be a blessing in disguise…..
4. Runners don’t set the right goals.
Sometimes I like to run just for the hell of it. Set out with no goal or route or speed in mind. Just run.
I don’t approach all my running like that for one simple reason.
The brain likes a goal.
The REASON you run could be: It helps ward off depression or It gives me so much energy or I love exploring the city.
But I believe you still need a goal to help you avoid drifting off into ‘meh territory’.
Pick something that would really mean something to you and focus either on speed or distance or volume –
a) Run a 5k in under 30 minutes.
b) Run a marathon.
c) Run 1000 kilometres in a year.
Pick one focus and set a goal for it.
(Warning – Pick to many focuses and you may just end up in overwhelm and quit).
5. Runners see mistakes as failure.
We all make mistakes in life. Fact.
If I hadn’t made the mistakes that I have with my own running I wouldn’t be where I am now – loving running and encouraging people to take it up as a hobby.
I have made SO many mistakes – wrong diet, wrong pace, too much distance too quickly, running with headphones on and nearly getting run over, wrong running shoes …..
All the mistakes that you have made turn you into a better runner. They are not a reason to quit.
For example, years ago I tried to run a marathon on too much training in a short space of time. I ended up injured. What I discovered though was that I LOVED half marathon distance. So now I train for and run half marathons.
So make a list of all the things you have done/or are currently doing and turn them to your advantage.
What can you learn? Can you change the distance you run? Can you change the pace that you run? Didn’t get the time you wanted for your 10k race, what can you do to achieve it next time?
So you want to stick at running?
Here are more tips for you:
- If you are a beginner then start small. I promise you this is a good strategy. Too much, too soon = high chance of quitting.
- Find a running buddy – running with a friend and having a commitment to each other really works (as long as you run at the right time of day for you both).
- Join or follow some social media running groups like The Running Bug on Facebook or check out Instarunners on Instagram.
- Use an app to note your progress. I love the Strava app and it is social too! It has really helped me find a pace to run at that I enjoy. I have also made new friends via Strava that I now run with.
- If you are running to lose weight and the weight loss is stalling then you may like this post
- Get the right gear – there is NOTHING like discovering your perfect running shoes. Try on lots of pairs and pick the most comfortable that look pretty and you will feel proud to wear.
- Change the way you look at running – Bart Yasso likes to say that what’s important is not “how far you go, but how far you’ve come.” Don’t think of it as a run – think about it as time outside in the fresh air, or a chance to catch up with a running friend.
- Stop thinking about it as a run and think about it as outside time, which studies have proven is medicine itself.
I won’t be breaking any world records with my running, I am not the fastest and I am not an ultra distance runner (yet!) but I love my running. Now that I know how to stick at it and enjoy it I hope I can inspire you to do the same.
If you have any tips you would like to add then put them in the comments!
Happy running and a Happy Easter everyone