You don’t have time; you don’t have the energy; it’s too cold/hot/rainy; the dog ate your shoelaces. Uh-huh.
Now go out and run. Online running coach Dean Hebert has heard so many excuses from his runners that he assembled them into a book: Coach, I Didn’t Run Because…Excuses Not to Run and How to Overcome Them.
“These excuses are real to people, and I don’t diminish them,” says Hebert. “I tell my beginner runners to concentrate on the one reason that brought them to running in the first place. A clear focus can work magic on your motivation.”
Keeping a written diary is a highly successful way to stick with an exercise or diet programme. It doesn’t have to be fancy or sophisticated. Indeed, where you place the diary might be more important than what you write in it.
Put a calendar on your fridge or in front of your computer, write down every time you complete a run and how far/for how long you ran, and take pride in watching those numbers build up. (Or feel guilty when they don’t! That’ll get you out.)
Some runners win gold medals and set world records, but no runner has ever done every workout he or she planned. You won’t either. Stuff happens, life gets in the way, but you can deal with it as long as you stay focused on the big picture. Shrug off the bad days, get back on the programme, and you’ll still achieve your goals.
Remaining persistent is crucial to improved running. “When beginners get discouraged or hit a plateau, I tell them to remember the time and effort invested and the progress they’ve made,” says beginners’ coach Jane Serues. “You don’t want to slide backwards, you want to keep working towards the progress ahead.”
Beginners’ running coaches agree that one of the best ways to stick with your exercise programme is to get a training partner. When someone is counting on you as much as you’re counting on them, it’s much tougher to blow out a workout. But it has to be someone of similar ability who is supportive, not competitive with you.
“We emphasise the emotional power of training partners,” says Serues. “One or two partners is good. Three or four is even better.”