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Running Procrastination: This is What Stops Runners from Training for Their First Marathon

Running Procrastination: This is What Stops Runners from Training for Their First Marathon

So you’ve decided that you’d like to run a marathon…at some point, at some time. But it hasn’t happened yet.

You can’t seem to get the race off your mind. Each year, the idea arises, and you entertain it for a short amount of time. Then you talk yourself out of it, listing a series of reasons why the goal is absolutely impossible.

If you’ve been dreaming of crossing the finish line for a while, here’s what may be preventing you from forging ahead with your marathon training.

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1. The Distance is Intimidating

Yes, it’s terrifying: 26.2 miles. You get exhausted just thinking about the distance. If you’ve never run a 5 km race, a 10 km race or a half marathon, the full marathon is most likely too big of a jump. But if you do have those miles under your belt, there is probably something else stopping you from starting your training today: fear. Part of you jumps at the idea of signing up for the next marathon, but another part of you – a much quieter, yet more powerful part of you – whispers “NO, Don’t do it. It’s not possible. You can’t run that far. You’ll never be able to do it.” Then, fear and insecurity keep you frozen in your tracks. What if you decided that running a marathon might be possible? What if you gave yourself some credit for past distances that you have endured? If you considered these possibilities, your ability to complete the distance might not seem quite as daunting.

Once you start believing that mastering a marathon is possible, everything else will fall into place. At that point, you can begin thinking about what enabled you to achieve your past long distance runs. Was it a supportive running buddy who ran by your side? An upbeat 130 BPM soundtrack? Running on a scenic trail? There are ways to make your workouts easier to conquer. It may mean training with a group, rewarding yourself with a protein shake after your run, or going for a regular massage to relieve muscle tightness. When you enjoy your running experience, the longer distances will be less overwhelming.

2. There’s No Time

You’re busy. You’ve got work, commitments, countless priorities and barely any time for yourself. It may not seem like the right time for you to run a marathon: you may be getting married, moving, raising a child or working long hours. Yet it also could be exactly the right time for you to lace up and hit the pavement. If running a marathon is something you can’t shake, it may be time to change your belief that there’s no time for running. If you’re ready to commit to making running a priority, you WILL make time for it, no matter how many daily meetings you have or how many e-mails flood your inbox.

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After you’ve made up your mind, there are little things you can do to adjust your schedule and make time for training. You can trade up your night out for a run with a friend, go to bed early and get up for morning runs, turn lunchtime into a workout, or hit the gym on your way home from work. Training for a marathon requires some consideration about how you will organize your time to fit in three to six runs each week; but it doesn’t mean overhauling all of your other commitments. Once you decide that running your marathon is mandatory and not optional, time will not be a barrier.

3. Injury Is a Possibility

There’s a chance that you will injure yourself when you are training for a marathon… but if fear of injury is preventing you from taking your next step, it may pay to ask yourself, “Am I focusing on what may go wrong?” There’s a certain amount of risk involved with every new activity you take on. It’s up to you to measure the risk, learn how to minimize the risk, and decide whether or not you want to go ahead full-force. If you decide to take on a marathon, you’ll have to learn how to be okay with the aches and pains that come with the journey. There will be mornings when you have to rest instead of run. There will be weeks when your joints may hurt. Injury could happen… but it’s up to you to decide how much time you spend worrying about it.

Once you shift your focus from the “what if’s” to the “what’s happening”, you can educate yourself on how to prevent injury and recognize warning signs so you stay healthy. You can learn about the most common injuries that runners experience (shin splints, muscle pulls, runner’s knee, ankle sprains…), and the proper treatment (icing, stretching exercises, rest…). You can incorporate strength training into your workouts, allow time for recovery from long runs, correct your form and make a commitment that you will not push through an injury. At the end of the day, if you want to get running, get informed and then let go of your fear of getting hurt.

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4. Marathons are Only for Serious Runners

Running burns, it’s hard, and everyone seems so much better at it than you, right?  Chances are, you’ve had repeated qualms about your running ability… to the point where you’ve told yourself and others “I am not a runner,” “I don’t have a runner’s body” or “Running is just not my thing”.  News flash: you are a runner if you think like one. Thinking like a runner means telling yourself, “I can get through this workout.” It means saying, “I know I can do this if I commit to it.” Thinking like a runner means adjusting your thinking ever so slightly so you are instead thinking, “I may not be a professional runner, but that won’t stop me from RUNNING!”

Besides, when you train for a marathon over 15-20 weeks, your body gradually changes through endurance, speed, strength and tapering. Over time, your body can take on more, and your runs become easier as you get into race shape. Try it: If it hurts to run three miles, try running three miles every day for one week straight. You are guaranteed to feel a difference once the week is over. As you find your running rhythm, you will begin to enjoy running more and more. You will find that running helps you let off steam and feel hugely accomplished. You may even start to look forward to early morning wake-ups, sore muscles, and those long, slow distances. You may not feel like a runner just yet, but by the time you are through with your training, you WILL BE ONE.

Training for a marathon requires an unbelievable amount of mental and physical energy and dedication. If you’re wrestling with your decision to run a marathon, you may want to re-examine your thinking… it may in fact be the only thing holding you back.

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Featured photo credit: Female runner lacing sport shoes before training/ Dirima via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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