In “My 10-Step Guide to Get You Off The Couch” one of the things I mentioned was that when I come up with an excuse not to run, I play devil’s advocate with myself and critically analyse each excuse. More often than not, I find myself putting on those running shoes… if begrudgingly at first! So when fellow Botswana Blogger, Naѐma from Dream Run Free, asked me how I stay motivated to run I was quick to say I try to be stronger than my excuses. But what exactly does this mean and how does this look in reality? In today’s post, I thought it would be fun to explore some of the excuses I’ve used (and continue to use) and discuss the practical ways I beat them to get my runs done. Hopefully this helps you to OUTRUN your excuses too!
1/ It’s too hard to get out of bed. I have a friend who is at the gym by 04:30. I’m not that girl! I love my morning lie-ins. On most mornings after I’ve gotten the kids ready for school, I enjoy a half hour snooze before getting ready for work. Mornings have never been a good time for me to run. But who says you have to run in the morning? Although the afternoons can be quite warm, I have adapted to running at that time. Having said that though, all my weekend long runs are early mornings and my body quickly got used to this time and yours can too! I just make sure I get a good night’s sleep and the feeling after those morning runs always makes it worth it.
2/ I’m too tired after work. Alongside being a mum, I work full-time and after sitting in traffic for 40 minutes, I am exhausted. Throw in supper prep and checking homework, a run is sometimes the last thing I feel like doing. But I also know that running energises me. Yes, it’s hard to get out there but more often than not, when I’m finally on the road, I feel alive and usually come back ready to tackle the evening routine. On days when I’m especially tired, I play a bargaining game with myself, “Okay, just run 20 minutes instead of the 45 scheduled”. But by the time I get to 20, I’m usually ready to finish the full 45. And if I’m still not into it, at least I got 20 minutes done, right? Sometimes a quick snack an hour before my run helps. But if you just can’t shake that tired feeling , perhaps consider a check up to make sure nothing is amiss.
3/ I just don’t have the time! This was a firm favourite of mine and one of the big reasons I took so long to start running! I just felt I didn’t have the time and it’s the excuse I hear from others the most. I now know that I wasn’t making it a priority and one of my pet peeves is hearing people say, “I wish I had ALL the time to run like YOU do!”. No, I don’t have extra hours in the day but I’ve made running my lifestyle which means I’ve learnt to make the time. One of my Sunday rituals is to look at my schedule for the week and alongside school and work activities, I factor in when and how my runs are going to get done. I look for the small gaps in my day and make the necessary preparations. Sometimes it’s a run commute from work and other times I run to my kids’ events while my family takes the car. There is time, it just may not be that obvious.
4/ Running will ruin my knees. This was a fear I had because it was often cited by some people as a reason to stay away from running. Unfortunately, I got ‘runner’s knee’ very early on and had to take time off running. In hindsight though, this was an injury waiting to happen. I wasn’t warming up adequately or stretching. I was ramping up my mileage too fast and I was doing very little to strengthen my muscles. Once I became more conscious of these things, I found I was less prone to injuries. Of course, if you’re struggling with persistent injuries, please consult a health professional as there may be some other interventions that you need.
5/ I don’t want people to see me running. I was scared of being judged because I didn’t look like a real runner. So I didn’t run. But at whose expense? This was something I realised I had to work on. So I started running on small neighbourhood roads and ventured further afield as a I grew more confident. Part of my confidence also came from looking the part. I stopped wearing dull t-shirts and added more colour to my running wardrobe. I also quickly realised that runners love seeing other runners and are only too eager to offer words of encouragement. I also did many of my runs with my cousin which helped me to build the confidence I needed to run alone.
6/ I’m neglecting my kids. I genuinely felt that taking time to exercise was selfish and that I had to spend every waking moment with my kids. But when I started, I realised that the only one I had neglected was myself. There was something so powerful about having time that was just mine. When I resumed mummy duties, I felt happier, more energetic and I was a lot more fun to be around. But in the process, I also realised that I could include my kids in some of my activities. For example, I would let them build puzzles on a mat in front of the treadmill and they would help me with my stretches. As they’ve gotten older, I sometimes run as they ride their bikes and more recently, I get them to run with me. So while I love the freedom from my kids, I also appreciate the memories I’m creating with them when they join my fitness activities.
7/ I’m just not getting any better. When I first started, I was always looking for some dramatic improvements. And when I didn’t see any, I would sulk and use this as an excuse to stop running. But change and improvement in running takes time and patience. If you focus so much on daily changes, it becomes as frustrating as weighing yourself every day! Just focus on doing the runs, logging them and trust me, 3, 6, 9 months down the line, results WILL start to show. You’ll find you are running farther, running faster, and you may even start to see physical changes.
8/ I don’t feel motivated. I spent so many years saying I wasn’t motivated to run. But while I was waiting to get motivated, I just put on more weight, grew more unfit and unhappy with the status quo. So I learnt the hard way that sometimes you just have to focus on putting on those running shoes whether or not you feel like it and that’s why this quote is one of my favourites:
“Don’t Wait To Feel Motivated. Do It Anyway. Your Mind Will Catch Up”
In other words, don’t wait for that flashing light of motivation. Focus on setting your goal (be it a race or some kind of challenge), make your plan (be specific), choose interesting routes, mix up your running with other workouts and find ways to keep accountable. For me, it’s through my blog, social media and my group of friends. If you know you need others to keep you motivated, join a running club or get a running buddy. Give yourself small rewards to keep going. I know lack of motivation is real. But I also feel we sometimes give ourselves too much choice when it comes to fitness. Put it on the schedule as you would other important things in your life and get it done. If I only ran on the days I felt like it, I promise you, I wouldn’t get much running done!
9/ I’m afraid to run alone. This is a genuine reason, especially if you are a woman runner. But don’t let this stop you from running. A few months ago, I wrote a post on some safety measures you can take on the run. These included, among others, choosing your running routes carefully, being aware of your surroundings, running without your music player, only running when it’s light and finding a running buddy or group to join. But if that’s not possible and you’re really uncomfortable on your own, join a gym or go to the stadium (UB or the National Stadium). If possible, invest in a treadmill which gives you more flexibility to run at home in your own time.
10/ I don’t enjoy running anymore. A friend of mine recently shared to our small running group that she didn’t enjoy running like she used to. This can happen. I sometimes fall into a slump especially after a goal race and taking a break is okay. But a break doesn’t mean you should stop working out! Staying fit should always be the goal and whether this is through running or another activity doesn’t matter. So don’t go back to the couch. Take time to explore other activities. You may take a liking to strength training or pick up pilates. Whatever it is, keep active and you’ll usually find your way back to running. If not, at least you would have found another way to keep fit. Also, remind yourself how running makes you feel or how it felt not to run when we were all stuck in lockdown! I know, that will certainly keep me running for a while to come!
I’ve used so many excuses not to run. But once I’m done with my run, I always wonder why it took me so long to get going in the first place! That’s not to say that on some days, I’m very happy to skip a run even if I know my excuse is flimsy. That’s 100% okay as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Often when you get accustomed to using an excuse, it becomes easier to use again the next time and before you know it, you’ve just stopped trying.
What excuses have you used for not running? What’s your most-used excuse? What excuse have you heard the most from others? How do you outrun your excuses?
I’m joining Kooky Runner and Zenaida on their link up, Tuesday Topics. I’m also joining the Runner’s Roundup with Mile By Mile, Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Runs with Pugs, Running on Happy and Organic Runner Mum! Be sure to read their blogs and catch up with other runners on the link-up. Such inspirational posts from around the world.