Whether we’re beginner or experienced runners’or contemplating starting’every now and then we all find a reason not to run. But there are reasons and then there are excuses. ‘An injury is a real reason not to run,’ says
Arizona-based Dean Hebert, a certified running coach and author of Coach, I Didn’t Run Because’. ‘That’s different than an excuse of a little ache.’ Here are some pointers to help you get through the negative chatter in your head’and step out your front door for some serious calorie burning.
1. "I’m not a morning person; it’s too hard to get out of bed."
You don’t have to run first thing in the morning, says Hebert. Just do whatever works for you, whether that’s running during your lunch hour or after work. And if your schedule is tight in the evening, here’s what Edmonton-based John Stanton, founder of The Running Room and author of four books on running, suggests: ‘Suck it up for a couple of weeks. You’ll find that the mind and the body adapt quickly.’
2. "My exercise partner is away this week."
This can be a problem if going with a friend keeps you motivated. But think of running as you do a task at work, suggests Toronto career and life coach Cecile Peterkin. ‘Look at what you will do to deliver on the project.’ You could take your dog or your neighbour’s dog with you, or join a running group for the week.
3. "I’m too old for it."
If you’re concerned about your age, know that running will help you live longer. Harvard University research shows that for every hour of exercise you do, you gain approximately two hours of life. Of course, if you’re just starting out, talk to your doctor first.
4. "I’m getting my period; I feel achy, bloated and tired."
There’s no question: This is a very real thing, says Hebert. But exercise actually helps relieve many of these symptoms. Also, Peterkin suggests telling yourself: ‘I’m going for a run. If after 10 minutes I’m still miserable, I’ll go home, but I’ll run for at least 10 minutes.’
5. "I always get a stitch in my side."
This can happen if you don’t wait 30 minutes after eating a meal, says Hebert. But he adds that, for many people, running after something light’such as some cereal or a sandwich’is fine. Stanton recommends ensuring your posture is good, running tall and watching how you’re breathing. ‘Start your run easy and build intensity. Purse your lips and concentrate on breathing out’like a swimmer’and relax your breathing.’ If that doesn’t help, don’t give up on running. Hebert says experienced runners don’t get side stitches as often as novices do, so run or walk through the pain and it will disappear.
6. "Running clubs are expensive, and my friends aren’t interested in running."
‘It’s time to put yourself first,’ says Peterkin, who recommends getting a free trial of a running club before committing. ‘Take this opportunity to meet people with similar interests. Who knows’if you join the club, your friends may follow when they see how much fun you’re having.’ Stanton adds that you can meet a group at a Running Room in your area on Wednesdays and Sundays for a free practice.
7. It’s too hot out. It’s too cold out. It’s raining.”
The weather is out of your control, so you will have to succumb to Mother Nature and dress appropriately. There is some amazing clothing technology out there, and it’s worth the investment for your health. ‘What happens if you get three to four straight days of rain? You won’t work out for four days?’ says Hebert. ‘Get tough and get out there. Enjoy it.’ And remember that there are lots of other people out running who haven’t let the weather stop them’so you definitely won’t be on your own!
8. "I don’t feel safe running alone."
This is a valid concern, and there is certainly no point in compromising your safety, so be smart. ‘What do you do in other situations when you don’t feel safe?’ asks Peterkin. Be cautious, and consider getting a friend or family member to ride their bike alongside you. Bring your cellphone, and if it’s before sunrise or after dark, run only in areas that are well lit. And you might want to leave your personal music player at home; you should be able to hear what’s going on around you.
9. "I have a blister."
‘Lance and drain the blister with a sterile needle, then coat the area with Polysporin and a layer of Second Skin or Liquid Bandage,’ says Stanton. Then you’re good to go. And be sure to wear the right shoes: You’ll need running shoes, which are roomier than cross-trainers. (Blisters mean there is increased friction between your foot and the shoe.)
10. "It hurts my boobs."
There are two reasons why this could be happening: Either your bra doesn’t have enough support, or else it’s too loose. So invest in a properly fitting sports bra. (Some women even find that wearing two sports bras at the same time solves the problem.) If that doesn’t work, a shelf bra flattens your chest to help prevent movement. Or try an encapsulation bra’it moulds and supports each breast. The point is, there is so much choice in bras on the market these days. To prevent chafing, running coaches recommend using Body Glide or medical tape on the nipples and under the bra straps.
11. "It’s easier to do some sit-ups and push-ups instead."
That’s great; do that, then grab your running shoes, say the experts. This type of exercise is ‘good for relieving stress and for core conditioning, but not for your cardiovascular system or fat burning,’ says Stanton. In fact, both Hebert and Stanton recommend circuit training: Incorporate strength-conditioning moves like sit-ups and push-ups between running short intense laps.
12. "I’m just feeling lazy."
Fair enough. But do you really want to be a couch potato? ‘The mind is a powerful tool that you can control,’ says Peterkin. ‘Use it to your advantage.’ Tell yourself you want to go for a run. ‘Celebrate your good health and dedicate your run to someone you love who can’t run,’ says Stanton.
This article was originally titled "Run out of excuses," in the September 2009 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!’and make sure to check out what’s new in the latest issue of Best Health.