At some point, every runner doubts his or her ability. Such fears can get in the way of progress—for example, if you get too worked up about your ability to complete a workout or stick with friends on a run, the negative thoughts and associated stress can sap your energy and motivation. On the other hand, you can make anxiety work for you if you recognize it as an opportunity to develop positive coping strategies. Here’s how to conquer what’s in your head and get on with your run.
“I can barely run a minute without walking.”
Focus on how long you can run. Walk breaks erase fatigue, allowing you to cover more distance. If you’d like to eventually run 60 seconds straight, once a week add five seconds to every other run segment of your run/walk ratio.
“I’m so tired/sore.”
Soreness and fatigue are often due to running too much, too fast, or over challenging terrain. Take a couple days off. On your first run back, do a run/walk ratio of 30 seconds each for 10 minutes. If you feel good, increase the run portion. Build up slowly on subsequent runs until you’re feeling back to normal.
“I’m not getting any faster.”
Run a timed kilometre every two weeks (2 and a half laps of an outdoor track). On your first kilometre test, don’t push it; just try to go a little faster on your final lap. Try to run a few seconds faster on each lap during your next kilometre.
“I don’t have time for runs longer than 30 minutes.”
That’s plenty of time. Just have a plan for each day: Run faster or with a slightly stronger friend one day, run hills the next, run easy on the third. As your fitness improves, you’ll be covering close to (or over!) 4.8km in a half-hour—and ready for a 5-K!