Running and the Head Game
Spring is in the air and the runners are taking to the streets again. Running is great; you can do it anywhere, it’s cheap, and you can enjoy beautiful scenery while you do it. Yet, people who can do it and want to do it, often let their inner voices stop them. If this sounds like you, I want to help you overcome the head-game and hit the ground running.
In working with beginner runners, I often hear them say they don’t have faith in their ability, they struggle with breathing or their legs feeling heavy, and they feel insecure about running in public as a novice. While many new runners talk about being winded and having sore legs, I have found that for most, it is the head, rather than the legs or lungs, that really hinders their running.
Tips For Beginning Runners
Here are a few simple tips to help you find that runner’s high!
1. Don’t Run Like You Think “A Runner” Runs
A common newbie mistake is strapping on your sneakers for the first time and taking off at a pace that matches some idea in your head about how runners run. You run a quarter mile at that pace and are gasping for breath and your quads are on fire. Your lungs and legs are screaming at you because you’re going too fast. You CAN run, you just need to sloooow down. Work on a slow, steady pace and run as far as you can without walking. Keep increasing that distance until you meet a reasonable goal. Find YOUR pace, not the pace of that runner in your head. That will take some time and some practice, but it is most definitely achievable. From there, if you want to get faster, there are a lot of ways to accomplish that. But that’s for another post…
Slow and steady might not actually win the race, but it will get you through the mileage.
2. Insecurity About Running In Public
First and foremost, remember that you are doing something powerful for yourself. People who see you running aren’t thinking about your running form or pace. If they have a passing thought about you, it is likely one of admiration, respect, or maybe even envy.
I realize it is easier said than done to get over the insecurities of publicly learning to run. So get out of your neighborhood if you’re feeling insecure! Go to a scenic area where you’re not going to see your ex, your judge-y sister-in-law, or the hot server from your neighborhood restaurant. This might make it easier to be present and focus on all the good things you’re doing for your health and fitness while taking in beautiful scenery. It might be challenging at first, but after you log some miles, you won’t think a thing about people seeing you. You will be way too busy being awesome, working hard, and getting stronger. Want to stay local, but be invisible? Grab a baseball hat and sunglasses. Really. It helps. Or grab a friend and head out together. Not only will you feel better, you’ll have more fun, and you can set goals together.
3. Pick A Mantra
Mantras are words or phrases repeated for meditation and concentration purposes. For the sake of the runner, they can be used to stave off negative voices in your head. So, when you’re thinking “oh my god, I’m dying, I can’t breathe!” be ready with a pre-determined phrase that will silence the doubter in your brain. For instance “my lungs are strong” or “inhale determination, exhale doubt.” The power of repeating a positive mantra is remarkable. Before you know it, you will believe that positive voice. So, fake it til you make it!
The rewards of running are worth the early battles. You will lean out, get fresh air, enjoy the runner’s high from endorphins, and feel an incredible sense of freedom and accomplishment.
Remember what it felt like to run as a kid? Do that! Run freely, run with spirit, run like nobody is watching… (Photo of my daughter.)
A great view and great company go a long way toward reaching goals.
Natalina owns and operates a boutique fitness studio in Cranston, Rhode Island, The Edge Fitness for Women. At her studio she not only builds strong bodies in a body positive environment, but also builds a strong community of women who support one another. A National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer with additional credentials in barre, boot camp, kickboxing, spin, and TRX (among others), 10 years of experience as a trainer, and countless road races, obstacles races, and a triathlon under her belt, she offers readers a wide variety of expertise and experience.