“Wait, I have to write that e-mail. OH! And then I have to check to see if I have coffee. And then I really should completely clean out the garage, and after that, I should go for a run. But right before I do that, I need to eradicate world hunger, then run. And find a cure for cancer. OK: So, I am just going to send that e-mail, see if I have coffee, clean out the garage, eradicate world hunger, cure cancer…THEN I will get myself out the door and go run. Wait. Is that a sore throat I feel? Where is my other sock? Maybe it’s the flu. I probably shouldn’t run, cause I will be too tired from the cancer-curing and hunger saving, and I think it might rain later, and I can’t find my stupid sock.”
Anyone else has had this conversation in their head like this before trying to go get a run in? A whole avalanche of excuses come cascading down your day and it doesn’t seem to happen? Or you start finding things to do before you get out the door? Well, maybe not you but I do all the time. Also, after coaching new runners for over a decade, I have heard all of the excuses that I am even impressed when I hear one I haven’t told myself. “Oh, you have to stay at home to clean your gutters instead of run. Huh? Ok. That seems like something important and needs to be done immediately instead of running.” (I am still working on not saying this with heavy sarcasm. I will let you know if it’s possible) You may ask yourself, “what’s my deal?” Well, your brain is in charge at that moment and wants to find safe things to do instead of going out to the scary out of doors where there might be lions, tigers or bears, and finds excuses not to run. But hold on to your tiger print pants, I have help. Oh my!
There are many of the barriers that stop new runners, but for each little excuse, I have a sack of solutions that will help your brain and your body to get out there and get your running groove on. I like to think of them as a pre-run checklist for new runners. It’s to gently let your head know that we are going to do this “fun” thing called running and it’s going to be awesome. Maybe think of it as a pre-flight preparation. You aren’t just going to shoot up in the air magically, you need to get the captain on board, and the crew and all those little bottles of booze. Here are 5 steps to help get your head all on board with your new running lifestyle. Welcome aboard, we’re so happy you have chosen to fly with us.
Step 1. Treat Yourself Like A 5-Year-Old. But your clothes out the night before. Pick a time that you are going to head out for your run and set a million reminders on your phone, coo-coo clocks and wake up calls. Tell all your friends that you are going to run so you don’t run into them later and that awkward moment comes up where you tell them that you didn’t run. Trust me, it’ll be easier just to go run.
Step 2. Break The Door Down. The front door is a maybe an impenetrable steel door, with spiders on it and surrounded by boo-bee traps. But you, as a runner, have to find a way to get past that door and get outside. It will feel impossible, but once you pass that you are gold. Just tell yourself you are going on a 5-minute jog, and see how you feel after that. This works like magic!
Step 3. The Crappy First Mile. Please know that the first 10 minutes will always be bad. Always! It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a fact. Your body is working on getting used to moving, and your head is not on board yet. Think of your body as a cold car in the morning. When you turn the key and get that engine running, it’s trying to warm up, get all the fluids to where they need to go, get the heater going so you get warm and then push that hunk of steel across the road. And the older the car, the more it might protest. I am not calling you an older car though! You are one of those lean Italian numbers with the leather seats. Anyway, it’s pretty much the same thing.
Step 4. Keep Your Head Busy. Download your favorite book to listen to on your run. Pick out a playlist that will pump you up and want to get moving, or listen to one of the new bazillion podcasts that are out there about everything that you ever wanted to know. (I even have one, about…you guessed it, running). If your head is engaged with whatever is happening in your ears, it’s less likely to pipe up and constantly remind you how tired you are and how out of shape you feel. It will be too busy enjoying pop songs or solve a mystery.
Step 5. Habit Dammit! Schedule your runs so they are next to something you already are doing. Like…waking up (hopefully you wake up every day) and keep that happening. The more your head knows what’s happening, it will think less, and then go out the door on autopilot. You’ll start putting your shoes on without thinking about it and then go run. And that, my new running friends, is the goal and a beautiful thing.