The Anti Runner Reformation

…how to start running when you hate it
Are you one of those who’s well aware of the abundant benefits of running, but the uneasiness of doing it is so massive that you simply can’t get your shoes on?

You are not alone. Even hardcore runners hate it. Here’s an interesting read on how to overcome your fear.

Cold sweat is normal

Strava is a well-known fitness tracking app with 95 million active users. A few years ago they did a global survey on 25000 runners and found that half of them say they either hate running or barely tolerate it, while only 8% love it. All participants declared that overall health was the main motivator for getting out. Drives such as getting stronger, losing weight and getting more energy came second.

Nothing stopped us from running as kids. So how come we curse it as adults? There are many theories. Some date back to the hunter gatherer era and the fight or flight impulse in dangerous situations, while some refer back to awkward situations at the obligatory Sports Class in Primary school. Feelings like fear and anxiety are present in both scenarios, and perhaps your subconscious command center avoids running to protect you from this stress on body and mind?
“Nothing stopped us from running as kids. So how come we curse it as adults? “

Mind over muscle

If you want to see the light in the tunnel, you have to start working on your psychological skills first. Because running is - to the letter - a mental sport. Experts are in unanimous agreement that it is the brain that controls physical exercise. Studies on athletes show that mental strength is what separates winners from the rest, mainly because the psyche influences how the physical body performs. It’s a matter of dedication and focus, the ability to handle pressure and pain as well as your levels of self confidence.

Self regulation - to learn how to control emotions, thoughts and actions - is key to make the metamorphosis happen.
“A mindful walk every other day is a great way to rest your joints, while simultaneously attending to your heart and lungs.”

Where do I begin?

1. Personality test
Who are you and what would suit you better? To run in the company of others or on your own? Ask a friend or join a local running crew if you prefer the group activity.
2. Determine fitness level
How’s your overall stamina? Be realistic without feeling bad about it. This is your starting point and you can only move from here. Step by step.
3. Equipment
Don’t overdo things and go bananas in the sporting goods store. Use what you have and mind the weather. A pair of shoes and you are good to go. Barefoot runners and many foot specialists say that our feet are made for running and the arch of the foot get’s stronger the more pressure you put on it - like a bridge. Too much padded soles and foam could lead to unnatural movement and injury. Shoe brands might state the opposite. So start simple. Sooner or later you’ll find what’s better for you. For dressing in cold weather, head over here! For warm weather outfits, get insights here. Rain runners - check here.
4. Soundtrip
For security reasons and peace of mind, it’s best to leave the earphones at home. But on the other side, motivating music or a great podcast could make the training session easier. Prepare something you like, perhaps with a beat that can match your pace.
5. Planning
Find the time that works best for you. Here are a few tips:

- It’s always easier to take on the challenge in the morning. Dress in running clothes directly when you wake up and take that breakfast and shower after the session.

- Do you have the possibility to shower at work? Run to work! You need to make space for commuting time anyways. A long way to work? Take the car or subway half way and run/walk the rest.

- No shower at work? Run commute home. It’s a very cleansing feeling, you can let go of the working day (+ your colleagues will be impressed).

- Lunch run? Start your lunch by running for 10-20 minutes and use the rest of the time to shower and get some food.

- Avoid running late at night, since this will affect your sleep. Read more about it here. But for some it works. Find your own way.
6. Start sloooooooow
What’s the point of setting nonsensical targets for the first session, unless they really motivate you?! Step down from cloud nine and go easy on yourself. First session could be a jog around the block, followed by a mindful walk or stretch. Or an easy interval jog for 10 minutes, where you run slowly for 30 seconds followed by a 30 seconds walk and so on, just to get your legs moving and that heart beat pounding. For the next session, add another block or some more minutes. Whatever the distance - set a goal that you can actually reach and be proud about it!
7. Listen to your body, but don’t be fooled
As mentioned above - mind over muscle! Many experiments show that most runners (even advanced ones) experience discomfort in the beginning of their run, like knee and hip pains, stiff legs, heavy breathing, etc, but it gets easier the more they adapt to the movement. Take some deep breaths and hang in there. Your stamina, bones, ligaments and muscles grow stronger by the second! But if you start getting serious pain in your joints - don’t push it to the limit. Walk a bit and give it a new try. Think of how you move your body. Tense limbs? Are you running on your heels? Are you bending your knees enough? What are your hands and arms doing?

Free to choose life

The above might sound easy, but for most people it is not. It is a challenge to cherish yourself. You need to flip-flop your routines and you need to motivate yourself on a daily basis to get that change of heart. It’s never a good idea to compare yourself to others, but in some cases it might. If you read this, you probably live in a society where there’s never a lack of food, snacks, entertainment and stuff to consume in one way or the other. But think of your ancestors, think of people in war, famine stricken areas and dictatorships. You are free to choose life. Give it 5 minutes.

Running has a fantastic feel-good impact on your brain - browse through our articles to read incredible facts. It doesn’t cost money. It’s environmentally friendly. You can do it whenever it suits you and it improves your health for years to come. Metanoia is heading your way!