3 common fears of beginner runners (and how to overcome them)

Let's talk about something that really freaks people out: starting a running journey! Although running can seem like a straightforward, non-nonsense activity, there are a few barriers that can get in the way of people lacing up and heading out the door. This blog covers three common fears I hear from beginner runners and several strategies they can use to overcome them.  

Fear #1: “I’m really slow and out of shape”

Runners who feel discouraged from a perceived slower pace or lack of endurance should note that running is not an easy skill to develop. It’s a full-body exercise that demands a lot of energy. With this in mind, beginner runners should focus on adapting their body to this new exercise instead of fixating on pace or distance.

Runners should also remember that celebration is a much better use of energy than comparison. Instead of, "I wish I could run up that hill as fast as that person" they can instead say, "I can't believe I just ran up that hill without stopping!" Practicing this way of thinking will make running a much more positive experience.

Speed and endurance will come with time. I can't guarantee that the journey won't feel long, but I can promise that the feeling of finally accomplishing a huge milestone makes every step worthwhile (ask any runner who has achieved a major PR).

Fear #2: “I don’t look like a runner”

The belief that all runners need to look a certain way is boring and outdated. The running community has not only grown in size, but also diversity over the years. We can thank social media accounts like this one for contributing to this.

Although body positivity is growing in the running community, I understand that everyone is on their own journey when it comes to self confidence.  For those not yet comfortable in their own skin, I suggest...

  1. Wearing clothes boost confidence. Bright or dark colors, tight or loose fits, bold or simple patterns...runners can experiment with different styles of activewear to help them find what is most flattering and comfortable for them. The less energy wasted on worrying about appearance, the more energy can be focused towards crushing goals on the run. 
  2. Curating the social media feed. I suggest following more accounts that help with body image and self confidence, and unfollowing/muting those that don't.
  3. Focusing on goals and progress unrelated to appearance. Warming up and cooling down after every workout, getting enough sleep, and drinking enough water are all great examples that provide the added bonus of helping runners feel their best.

Fear #3: "I don't know where to start"

The beautiful thing about running is that it can be as simple as slipping on a pair of sneakers and heading out the door. However, there are some resources runners can use to feel more prepared, such as...

  1. Investing in a solid pair of shoes. The right pair of running shoes can improve a runners performance while reducing their risk of injury. One of the best places to find the perfect pair is a running shoe store. Many are equipped with knowledgeable staff prepared to help runners find shoes that are well suited to their foot shape, gait, and running goals. 
  2. Finding positive sources of motivation. As I mentioned earlier, starting a running journey is not easy. Runners who draw motivation from positive sources are much more likely to stick with their training. I emphasize the word positive because motivation that comes from a place of self-loathing, punishment, or comparison won't get a runner very far. Some examples include signing up for a fun race or challenge, joining a running club, or finding a training buddy.
  3. Following a plan. Following a plan can provide both structure and a sense of accomplishment to a new runner. Club Heldie is the perfect resource for new runners because it offers 5K, 10K, and half-marathon training plans for all levels plus cross-training and nutrition resources. Click here to learn more. If you need more support, check out my 1:1 coaching services or customized training plans. 

I hope following these steps will help you feel less anxious about lacing up your running shoes. What are you waiting for? Get out there, give it your best shot, and have some fun. 

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