Friday, September 23, 2011

Facing the Fear: Becoming a Runner

When I was asked to contribute to Strawberries & Tea, it was to give tips to the beginning runner. And I can do that. As a running coach, I am often asked for my advice on how to start and stick with running. But then I thought about it, you don't need the tips, if you can't get out the door. The honest truth is the hardest part about becoming a runner is actually deciding to commit to the sport.

A lot of people think they can't be a runner. And most of the time, their reasons are really just excuses. They have bad knees. They don't have time. It's too hot. It's too cold. They could never do, XYZ.

Honestly, I don't buy any of it. As humans, we were born to run. And unless running will actually put your life in danger (i.e. unsafe locales, serious medical conditions), there probably isn't really any reason that you aren't able to it.

You just have to ask yourself what kind of fear is holding you back.

Are you afraid to fail? Then set small attainable goals. Maybe you start by running for one minute. Once you can do that, add another and another, until you can run a mile.

Are you afraid of injury? Then take precautions. Get fitted for proper footwear. Run in safe areas, where you are well illuminated and don't need to dodge traffic. Don't push through pain. (Yes, running can be uncomfortable, but it should never be painful.)

Are you afraid that you'll do something wrong? Then ask for help. Chances are you know a runner. Or that you live near an RRCA organization. Heck, even your doctor may be able to give you advice. The better informed you are the more likely you are to succeed and stick with your new found activity.

Whatever your fear is, big or small, it can be overcome and you can reach your goals. IDENTIFY the fear that's holding you back and ELIMINATE it. You just need to find the method that works for you. And once you've eliminated that fear and have become a runner (it only takes one run, no matter how fast or slow), then read the Complete Running Network's 100 Beginner Running Tips HERE. It's a comprehensive list that will get you on your way.

So, what are you waiting for? Can't you hear your running shoes calling your name?
Don't forget about the Sunfood Giveaway we have going on!


  1. I've been asked for similar advice lately by friends who've watched me get more and more into running, and who want to start. Great advice on all points. I also ask them why they want to run, what about running appeals to them, and can target my advice to them based on that. Thanks for the post!

  2. What a fun blog. I'm over from Racing With Babes. Great guest post Tonia! I was a brand new runner just 2 years ago - I would add read and study as a way to combat fear. It seemed (and still does to a certain extent) odd to READ about running, but I've learned a TON from some of the books such as Jeff Galloway's You can Run a Half Marathon, Penguin's Courage to Start, idiot's Guide to Running, and also Women's Running magazine and Runner's World magazine.
    Good luck to all the newbies - it's totally and completely worth it!!!

  3. nice post! I like,"You just need to find the method that works for you." well said.

  4. i love this and i agree with every word. there are so many ways to be a runner - you have to define what that means for yourself. if you run - whatever the pace, whatever the distance, even if you take walk breaks - you are A RUNNER. get out the door and do it :o) love this post.

  5. As someone who laughed at the idea of running once, I agree that all the "reasons" for not being able to be a runner truly are "excuses."

    My biggest personal hurdle was "I don't know." Can I run a 5k? I don't know. I tried it and then asked Can I run a 10k? ...maybe. I did that and then all the walls broke down. If I can run a 10k, I can run a half marathon. If I can run a half marathon, why not a marathon? Now the only "I don't know" answer comes to the question of "What is your limit?"

    The best advice I can give (and second Tonia's above) is "Get out there and try!"

  6. Great post Tonia! We were made to be upright. Our bodies were built to be up and moving. Get out there. All you have is today.