We've all been there. We know we should get out and go for a run, but we make up an excuse not to. The truth is that if you want something badly enough, you will find a way to get it. Running is no exception. If you want to run badly enough, if you want to train for a marathon or a half-marathon badly enough, then you will find a way and you will make time for running. You may have to sacrifice a half-hour or an hour of television time each day, but leading a healthy life and running, whether for health or to train for a race, is all about balance.
Here are the top seven excuses we all make for not running and the solutions for each of them.
This is the No. 1 excuse people make for not running or working out. In today's world, people have a million priorities, including work, kids, family and social activities. Finding time to do one more activity can seem impossible.
To find time to run, first take a look at what your daily schedule looks like and see if there is somewhere you can squeeze in a half-hour to run. Do you spend 30 or more minutes watching the news in the morning? Do you watch a sitcom or the news before you go to bed each night? Instead of watching those television shows, record them or watch them online during the weekend (when you have more time) and use the time you'd otherwise spend watching TV to go for a run.
Do you take a lunch break at work every day? Instead of going out to eat, use that time to go for a run. Then eat your packed lunch at your desk afterward. Keep a spare pair of running shoes and some clothes in a drawer at work or in the trunk of your car. The cool thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime. No shower at work? No problem. There are several companies, like ShowerPill or Nathan, that make athletic body wipes for this purpose. A quick wipe-down and you will be sweat-free, odor-free and feeling fresh.
Plan your workouts a week in advance and put them on your calendar, just like you do with appointments. Then treat them as mandatory, just like you would treat a meeting. Schedule your workouts around your other activities. For instance, don't schedule a long run the morning after a late-night party. Be flexible, but set an initial time frame for the week.
If you can, run in the morning. Getting your run over with first thing in the morning leaves the rest of the day open, and if something unexpected comes up later in the day, you won't have to choose between that and running. If you're not a morning person, you can become one. Just a few weeks of regularly waking up early and working out will convince your body that it is the body of a morning person, and running in the morning will soon become a habit.
When you are at work all day, it can be hard to take any more time away from your family to go for a run. But remember why you run. It's not selfish. It is good for you. When you are happy, the people around you are happy, too. You will be a better mother/spouse/friend/employee.
You could also find a way to incorporate your family into your run. For instance, they could ride their bikes alongside you, or you could go to a local track or park and the kids could play in the field while you run laps around the track or run circles around the park. If your family is involved in your fitness routine, they are more likely to follow your example and have healthy exercise habits throughout their lives as well.
If you're feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed or run-down, running can help. Ten or 20 minutes of exercise can help get your endorphins moving, lower your stress-hormone levels and help lift your mood. After a particularly stressful day at work, running is the perfect solution to help you unwind and de-stress. Plus, it's much healthier than reaching for that glass of wine.
Keep a pair of running shoes and clothes in your car and stop at a park or track on your way home from work. If you go all the way home before running, you are much more likely to get caught up in chores like checking the mail and making dinner, and you're thus more likely to make more excuses not to run. But if you stop somewhere to run before you get home, you have no excuse. Before you run, pack a small snack like an energy bar or a banana to curb your hunger until dinner.
If you let daylight hours dictate when you run, then summertime is the only time of year when you will be able to run. Running in the dark does not have to be scary or intimidating. In fact, I think running in the dark can be very calming and serene, especially early in the morning. There are a few things that can make running in the dark both safer and easier.
First, wear a headlamp. You can buy a running headlamp at any running store or online, and it will illuminate your route so that you can see ahead of you. It will also help other people see you.
Second, wear light colors and reflective clothing. White, orange and yellow are good colors to wear in the dark. It's also a good idea to invest in reflective gear, such as a vest. Some items such as running shoes and jackets come with reflective pieces on them, but you can never wear too much reflective clothing.
You should also run without music, or you should at least turn the volume down low enough that you can hear cars, cyclists, dogs or people around you. Carry your ID and a cellphone with you, let someone know what route you are taking before you head out and run with a friend or running group if you can. Finally, run someplace that's well-populated and well-lit, but try to avoid busy roads with no shoulders or sidewalks. If you are running on a road, make sure you stay on the sidewalk.
If you don't want to run alone, either for safety reasons or because you think it's boring, find a friend to run with you. If you don't have any running friends close by, find one!
The best way to find a running buddy or running group is to ask around. A lot of groups, particularly the more casual ones, are made up of friends, friends of friends and acquaintances. Ask your runner friends, neighbors or co-workers if they know of a running group that would be a good fit for you. Alternatively, ask if they have any friends who would want to be your running buddies. If this doesn't yield any results, do an internet search for running groups in your area. There are online forums dedicated to bringing runners together, forming running groups or just finding running buddies. Most local running stores have running groups as well. Visit your local store and find out when the store's group meets and how far they typically run.
If you run with your local running store's running group and you find someone whom you enjoy running with and who runs at the same pace as you do, don't be afraid to ask if he or she would like to run with you at other times during the week.
If running interferes with your social life, why not combine the two? Run with friends and then go out for brunch or happy hour afterward. Running is the perfect way to catch up with friends, and time goes by much quicker when you are chatting the whole time.
Don't have any friends who run? You don't have to sacrifice your social life at the expense of running. It's OK to show up to happy hour a half-hour late in order to squeeze in a quick run. Or if you know you are going out with friends after work, make sure you get your run in earlier that morning. If you have a late night out planned on the weekend, make sure you plan your long run and your rest day around it (late night Saturday = long run Saturday morning + rest day Sunday).
Use a training log to keep track of your runs. After you've completed each workout, check it off on your training log and write down any useful information about that day's run: how it felt, what the conditions outside were, how far you ran, what your time was etc. This instant feedback helps you feel accomplished and can help keep you accountable. This also allows you to look back over time and see the progress you have made. If you're feeling stuck in a rut, pull out old training logs and remind yourself of how far you have come since you began. This can help motivate you to keep going and not quit.
Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting those goals. For example, if you complete all of the week's scheduled workouts, treat yourself to a pedicure or that new color of nail polish that you always wanted. Or for each workout you complete, give yourself $1. Once you have enough saved up, treat yourself to that new outfit or Garmin you've been wanting. Stay away from using food as a reward, however. Rewards should be services like a manicure or a massage, goods like workout clothes and running gear or free things like a bubble bath.
Stop focusing on the "cannots," "should nots" and "better nots," like "I should not eat those fries," and "I'd better not drink that soda." As you start each day, start from the inside by saying affirmations like "I am someone who takes care of her body," and "I am someone who will accomplish her goals." The difference is that the second set of statements focuses on who you are and what you expect in your life, not just on the change you want to make. The affirmations call for action and foster your success. Your attitude will likely decide your success at staying committed.
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