5 Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Running

The following is a guest post by Audrey Clark.

Hitting the pavement for a jogThere are those that fear running in that first big race or marathon. Others fear unfamiliar distances and terrain. Some may even feel self conscious as they run, concerned with how others are viewing them. Then there are those that doubt their abilities and whether or not they’ll be able to finish what they’ve started.

Whatever one’s fear of running may be, running scared can be debilitating and have the tendency to swallow one in their own self-defeat. That’s because when doubt begins to creep into the equation, it can spiral into negative emotions, which can spiral into the fear that you don’t have what it takes to complete the run. What’s more is that this fear can also lead to stress and this stress can lead to tighter muscles that grow tired easier, potentially throwing off your coordination and possibly even leading to injury and a decrease in mental toughness.

So with all of this being said, just how can you overcome your fear of running? Here’s a look at five ways to keep running fun and healthy:

1. Run Long Distances: One of the biggest fears associated with running is the fear of not finishing the race or marathon you’ve entered. Yes, new distances can scare the heck out of runners. So how do you overcome this? By putting an emphasis on distance as you are training. Work on tracking your activity and distance so that you know just how far you’ve gone. Focusing on volume has both physical and mental benefits. In terms of the former, you’re prepping the body to run long distances. In terms of the latter, you’re reinforcing the fact that you can complete these long distances.

2. Prepare: When running a race or marathon for the first time, there’s always that unknown. What will the terrain be like? How long will it take me? These are both factors that can cause quite a bit of fear and anxiety before the race even begins. So how can you overcome them? By preparing for the course. Use online street view maps to see what type of terrain you’ll be dealing with and make this a part of your training regimen.

3. Aspire to be better: Many runners fear “not being good enough” when compared to other runners participating in an event. So in order to conquer this fear, aspire to be greater. For instance, if your goal is to run a six-minute mile, consider training or jogging with a group of fellow runners who currently run in the six-minute mile range, as this will inspire you to match their pace. If you want to burn a certain number of calories each jog, hold yourself accountable with Nike+/Fitbit/Fitbug or equivalent software app. If you’re worried about “not being good enough,” then stop being complacent and adopt a training regimen that reflects your running goals.

4. Kick self-consciousness: Arguably the biggest factor that keeps people from running is the fear of being seen by others. Do you look awkward? Too slow? Too old? Too big? It’s easy to say, “stop caring about what others may think” but a whole different thing to actually do it. So how can you kick self-consciousness? Try running with a group of people or a running partner. Also, wearing comfortable clothing can make you feel more, well, comfortable. Finally, bringing an iPod or mp3 player to listen to during your run can help you tune the outside world around you out and give you something else to focus on.

5. Keep running fun: When you become scared to run, it’s likely because you’re not having fun doing it anymore. So make sure that you’re still enjoying it! Reward yourself when you accomplish goals and meet new milestones. And don’t be afraid to switch up your path or regimen, just to try something new.

About the author: Audrey Clark is a writer who loves to travel and stay fit. She’s always looking for her next adventure. You can find Audrey on Google+.

photo credit: “Winter runner – Day 88/365” by Nadine Heidrich, license

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