As an avid runner, you understand how hard running can be at times. Like any other sport, running requires sacrifice, dedication, and commitment to amount to anything. Some people consider the effort needed to run to be a price too great to pay, a reason many give up before they even get started.
To become a great runner, you will have to overcome several physical and mental hurdles. Running is pretty involving, both physically and mentally. As such, it is crucial to train your body and mind on how to overcome the obstacles that will be in your path to becoming a better runner.
The initial hurdle of learning how to run properly can be daunting, but don’t give up, check out the below video on just some of the unspoken benefits that running provides. The mental health benefits of running are very rewarding as well.
If you are to deal with these challenges effectively, you need first to know them. In this guide, we will explore why running is hard, how to become better at running, and the ideal solutions for tackling the same.
Why Is Running Hard?
It Is Physically Involving
One of the reasons most people find running challenging is that it is very involving. Running engages most, if not all, of your body parts. When starting, it is pretty common to experience pains in many of your muscles, from your calves to your arms. The pain indicates the areas that are most active when you are running.
Most runners with no commitment will give up in these initial stages because of the pain. However, if you persevere and push through the muscle aches, you will realize that it gets easier and pains less with time. Sadly, most people don’t wait until this happens, as some focus so much on the pain they feel that they forget the reward that is yet to come.
As a beginner runner, you need to have the mindset that running will not be easy. It will take a lot of self-will and discipline to persevere through the pain and discomfort it will cause. Adequate mental preparation helps you face the pain better, and it will be easier for your body to endure.
It Takes Time to Perfect
As with any other exercise, running will take you some time before becoming a great runner. Rarely do people start running and become expert runners within a few weeks. At times, it may take you several months or even years to do a long run comfortably. Some runners train daily yet struggle to complete a long run; this is perfectly normal and acceptable.
Our bodies respond differently to exercises; some adapt faster to changes than others. It is crucial to know how your body behaves to changes as a runner. The understanding will help you avoid overworking your body. It also helps you to persevere and not give up entirely on running when there are no quick, noticeable results.
By appreciating that it may take you longer to notice any results, you will be more patient with your journey. It will also allow you to enjoy running instead of being fixated on the results, which, more often than not, in such a state, you will most likely not achieve.
It Requires a Strict Dieting Discipline
One of the essential parts of physical exercise is a proper diet. Often, what you feed your body is as important as your exercises. As a runner, there may be times when you will need to stick to a strict diet that will force you to give up some unhealthy foods that you enjoy. Most sugary foods are discouraged as they will interfere with your ability to run for long.
You might find it quite hard to give up some of your favorite foods. If you are not genuinely committed to running, they will most likely opt to “cheat” or choose to drop running altogether. Some people may fail to reach their full potential in running exercises due to the inability to sacrifice what they love.
Running is a serious and intense exercise, and it will not work for you if you are not ready to leave your comfort zone. It might mean that you will have to eat diets that you do not enjoy so as to improve running. A good runner should be willing to sacrifice their comforts, including avoiding certain kinds of meals, to improve.
Running Can Be Lonely
Running can be pretty lonely for those who are not used to doing exercises independently. To be a good runner, you will need to mentally prepare for such fight feelings. Sometimes, it may be hard to find people to run with, and in such moments, you might have to rely on yourself to keep going.
How Can You Become a Better Runner?
It’s true that running is hard but there are ways to go around it. Running can be challenging, and without commitment, you might find it hard to be a consistent runner. Below are a few tricks that can help you overcome the urge to give up running.
Start By Warming Up
Before every run, it is crucial to start by warming up and stretching. Warming up prepares your body for the involving and intense task ahead. If you are new to running, you can commit to walking long distances a few days before you start running. You may also incorporate short jogs in your walks to warm up your body for what lies ahead.
Warming up will help your muscles and lungs adjust to the new environment. Your lungs capacity will expand to deal with the increase in demand for oxygen. These long walks and jogs will also improve blood circulation in your body, which will be an essential boost when you start running.
As mentioned above, most new runners are eager to see results in the first few days of their running exercises. However, there is usually very little to see in these initial days, no matter how hard you work. Lack of quick results may demotivate most people from pushing on, and they end up giving up as soon as they start.
As a committed runner, you need to appreciate that it will take some time before getting any notable results. Even so, a lack of results does not necessarily mean that you are doing anything wrong. It simply means that your body is adapting to the many changes in its environment, a process that takes time.
Being patient with yourself is crucial in such moments; it makes you persevere through the pain and have a chance at great results that come with running better.
Take a Day at a Time
Lack of patience may also manifest itself in another way: one pushes their body beyond their limits to witness results sooner. Doing this is not only counterproductive but also dangerous to your overall health. Too many exercises within a short span lead to exhaustion and cause injuries to the body.
As mentioned above, your body needs to adjust to the changes. Denying it enough time to do so will only complicate matters. It is always important to allow your body enough time to rest, heal, and fully recover as a runner. The muscle pains that one experiences result from micro-tears in your muscles as they expand. Failing to give your body time to do so affects your running efficiency and the results.
Taking a day at a time is the most effective way of dealing with this. Set your goals for the day, and once you achieve them, do not push the body beyond that, especially in the first days. Taking a day at a time reduces the risk of injuries that might cut your running career short.
Get Running Shoes
By having a good pair of shoes for running, you will identify which shoe works best for your running gait and style.
Run In a Group
If you are a new runner, sometimes you might lack the motivation to run, especially when there is nothing to show for it. During such moments, it is hard to draw inspiration from within. You will need an external motivator to keep going, and there is no better motivation than your running mates.
Being in a group of like-minded runners can help you remain motivated as you will keep encouraging each other to push on. Running can be pretty lonely for those who are not used to it. Being in a support group will encourage you to keep running as it is more enjoyable to run with others. Sharing your running experiences may also help improve how you run.
The above are some of the many reasons running is hard. We have also discussed a few solutions that will help you become the better runner you aspire to be. While not all of them will fit everyone, these solutions will give you an idea of what you need to do to get better at running.
Be patient with yourself even when you fail. Anything of value takes time to perfect, and running is no different. There are days that you will feel like giving up, while there will be little or no improvement in others. You will need to practice patience in such moments, believing that better days lay ahead. By taking each day at a time, being consistent, and giving your best every day, you will keep improving. Give it time, and you will soon start enjoying your runs.
Marko Rakic is a trail runner and fitness enthusiast from Sydney, Australia. He is the lead writer for The Ultimate Primate and believes the best way to live a happy life is to take a holistic approach to fitness and health.