How to Stop Giving Excuses and Start Running
Yesterday, Kelly from Joggermom.com asked me and my running buddy Zoe of Run, Zoe, Run for some tips to motivate potential mother runners. I gave her some tips that I use to motivate myself to run, but I think what she’s asking is how do you motivate someone who maybe has thought about running, but hasn’t been able to get herself out the door yet.
Well, first, I think the person has to be, at least, a little interested in the sport of running. If they aren’t, there are plenty of other ways to exercise that they might be more motivated to do, like walking or tennis or swimming. I have a friend who really likes water aerobics. Whatever! It doesn’t have to be running.
That being said, let’s pretend we are talking about someone who is interested in running, but has been giving the typical excuses for not yet going: I’m too busy, I’m too fat, I don’t belong to a gym, I’ll start on Monday.
Running Motivation for the “I’m Too Busy” Excuse
First of all, we’re all too busy. But people who exercise every day make it a priority. If you want to run, but think you are too busy, then you need to really look at your day and take stock of where you are actually spending your time.
Make an honest timeline of your day
This’ll take 5 minutes. What are you doing today? Write down exactly what time you plan to do each activity throughout your day and about how long it’ll take – from morning to night. Did you write Facebook time on there? Probably not. How about TV? No? I bet you will find some things you can eliminate after you write it all down. Can you find 30 minutes? I bet you can.
Schedule time to run
Remember that timeline you just made? Now, add “running” to it.
Put running clothes on ASAP
If you don’t work in an office, then you can wear workout clothes all day if you have to. Put your running clothes on as soon as you get up. That way, as soon as you have 30 minutes, you’ll be ready to run. That may be while your kid has soccer practice. It is way harder to talk yourself out of running if you are already wearing running clothes. And, oh I don’t know, taking off CLEAN running clothes at the end of the day really makes you aware that you did NOT go running.
(This works, too, if you do have to work in an office: I’ll wear pieces of my running outfit under my work clothes to make the changing process faster during my lunch hour. And, if I don’t go, having a sports bra on till the end of the day is a constant and annoying reminder that I didn’t run.)
Motivation for the “I’m Too Fat to Run” Excuse
Everyone has to start somewhere. Those runners you see gliding across the pavement? They might’ve been 300 pounds before. You just don’t know. I was nearly 200 pounds when I started in July of 2009.
Walk Before You Run
Before I ran, I walked. I made walking a habit. It wasn’t overwhelming to me; I was just out for a walk. It seemed easy to incorporate it into my daily routine. I would walk and push my son in this little plastic car. I didn’t time it or anything. I just walked and talked to my son. Now, I have good memories of our walks together.
Utilize the Run/Walk Method
After a couple months of walking, I decided to try to run a little. Having a baby jogger (I have a hand-me-down BOB) helped. If you have a little one, get a baby jogger – you can find them for a reasonable price used. But a regular stroller will work – especially if you’ll just be on a sidewalk in your neighborhood – so don’t let “I don’t have a baby jogger” become an excuse not to run. Older kids can ride their bikes next to you. A little hint: straight, paved trails are the easiest to navigate with a baby jogger, and probably easier for young kids to ride bikes on, too.
Start your run by walking for 5-10 minutes to warm your body up. I like to do some ankle (write the alphabet in midair with each foot) and calf stretches after the warm up. Then run for a couple minutes, walk for a minute. Do that for about 30 minutes and…you’ve just completed your first run! I also like to stretch after my runs.
Check out these run/walk plans to get you started:
Wear Loose-Fitting Exercise Wear
When I first started running, I had a 1-year-old and I had quite a bit of weight to lose. I didn’t want anyone to see my body jiggling around. But I had a pair of loose-fitting Adidas capris that helped cover the jiggle, and I wore a cotton t-shirt that was baggy enough to hide my post-baby belly.
And try to remember, most people admire exercisers. I only ever got made fun of once by some jerk-hole in a passing car who cowardly yelled a name at me, and it was after I’d lost a bunch of weight (and I was in the middle of a 16-mile run!). Keep up the running, and you’ll be getting a whole new running wardrobe in no time!
Motivation for the “I Don’t Belong to a Gym” Excuse
I don’t belong to a gym either. Who needs a gym to run? That’s the beauty of running – you can do it outside! And going outside is free! Raining? You won’t melt. Hot? Go early or late or find a really shady route. Snowing? Run slower.
Make running an adventure
Take a new route – go down a neighborhood street you’ve never been before, or discover a new trail with a friend. Of course, be safe. Let someone know about where you’ll be and bring your phone. I sometimes also bring pepper spray. You can map runs and look up routes on MapMyRun.com. Think you need a GPS watch? There are tons of exercise apps on your smartphone. Endomondo is one tracker app I occasionally use.
Write about your adventure
You don’t have to be a writer or be good at writing to journal about your run. This is a journey! Keep track of it.
It can be very motivating knowing that you will have something interesting to put in your journal after your run. It can also be motivating to go back and read about those beginning runs.
When you are running, take note of things. Look around. Pay attention to how you feel and what you are thinking about. Then record them when you get home. Record it in a journal or you could start a blog (that’s how this blog started – it was my motivational tool for running.)
“I’ll Start Monday”
Why would you pick the busiest day of the week to start something? The best time is now while you’re thinking about it, so stop reading this, and go running!