Have you ever had the feeling that you're just not cut out to be a runner? Like, everyone else seems sooo happy to run and they're all running races and getting fit and you keep getting hurt and you're out of breath within a block and, no matter how hard you try, you just dread every minute of running. And it friggin' sucks!
Maybe you're missing something.
Phil Clark from the Training Station has a great quote, “If running sucks, then you're doing it wrong.”
I couldn't agree more. Here's why.
The first thing you have to bring to the table is respect for the act of running. We take it for granted that we should be able to 'just run'. Running is often sold as a simple sport yet is a highly coordinated activity that repeatedly imparts a lot of stress – a LOT of stress – on the body.
If you're carrying around too much body fat, muscle imbalances and movement dysfunctions you need to address those things. They WILL bite you in the ass at some point. It's not a question of “if”, it's a question of “when” - especially if you want to run long distances.
Consider running as a lifestyle and live like the athlete you are. Address and prioritize your mobility issues, strength deficits, overstriding tendencies, learn how to recover between sessions, and above all have patience. (I know, easier said than done)
Slow Down! Please.
Of all the common rookie mistakes, this is huge. Sure, if you're a teenager going out for the track team, you'll need to sprint and run fast. But if you're an adult just getting into the sport you need to work with your body, not against it.
Running slowly is the ticket. Can you carry on a conversation? Can you run while only breathing through your nose? If not, slow down.
Most people are shocked when I tell them to run slowly while breathing only through their nose. They're shocked because it means running REALLY slowly. Guess what? That just happens to be where you're at right now.
It all comes down to adaptation. Since your tendons, ligaments and finally bone take longest to adapt, you need to give them time and not stress them out too much. Running slowly imparts less stress on those tissues.
If you take my advice and run slowly you may curse me at first because you'll feel like you're being sentenced to the running equivalent of the 'short bus'. Trust me, when you're not hurt and your speed has improved naturally, without forcing it, you'll thank me.
Get the Right Gear
This one is simple. Go to a quality running specialty shoe store and tell them you're a new runner. They'll make sure you're in shoes that fit properly and teach you about clothing that makes running more enjoyable.
Sure, you might have to invest a few dollars more than you'd originally thought, but having the right gear is so worth it. Chafing, blisters, feeling too hot or too cold, and even more severe running injuries like knee pain can be blamed on using the wrong gear.
So give running the respect it deserves, take it slow, work with your body, suit up properly and you've got a real chance at making running not suck. In the end, I can't make you like running. You may just enjoy rock climbing or stand-up paddleboarding more, and that's ok. As long as you're out there doing it, I'm cool with that. Now go!