Hey Angels and Alphas,
While we all know running can be quite intense physically, whether you’re doing it for weight loss or not, there are also mental demands this activity has that can be just as challenging. Most long-time runners have a massive bank of knowledge to draw from as they are facing different challenges, but to newer runners, things are more likely to lead to feeling overwhelmed and making common mindset mistakes when dealing with their first running-related roadblocks.
By handling the three most common psychological mistakes as soon as possible in your running journey, you’re not only going to speed up your process and success, but you’ll also be much more likely to stick with this habit over the long haul.
MISTAKE #1: EXPECTING INSTANT RESULTS
No matter at what point in your life you decide take up running, it’s normal to want to see results quickly. That’s our nature. If you tend to stick with running consistently through the first couple of months, you will be more likely to see rapid improvements in some parts of your performance. You will be able to cover more miles more quickly. You will also be able to run longer and therefore walk less.
As you improve, it can sometimes be tempting to rush into covering unexplored, longer distances. That being said, the progress you achieve in running is rarely linear. You’ll improve, then you’ll plateau. You’ll improve again, then you’ll plateau again. And during those phases where you feel like your wheels might be spinning, it will be hard to recognize that the work you’re putting in is accomplishing anything. But you best believe it is.
The solution here is to set time-based goals…
If you want to see significant improvement in your running, this will take patience and consistency. Rushing through your goals will lead to failure, burnout, and possibly even injury. When you set your goals, you have to think both short-term and long-term. The short-term, accessible goals will act as stepping stones toward bigger progress.
MISTAKE #2: RELYING ON “MOTIVATION” TO GET YOU TO RUN
As a new, enthusiastic runner, you may feel as though you initially have endless motivation. This may be even more true if you start running in the spring or fall when the weather is inviting for a daily run. Eventually, the cold rain or the hot, humid day will come, or maybe you’ll just feel tired and overwhelmed by all the work and family commitments. At some point, you might find that your motivation vanishes.
The solution here is simple… rely on discipline and habit over willpower.
It’s always easy to find a plethora of “hacks” for accomplishing pretty much anything these days, but your progress will come with continuous effort, not by taking a few shortcuts. There are definitely things you can do that will get out the door, but ultimately, your goals and rewards have to come from the inside.
Building a new habit takes time. It can take up to a month or even more to turn running into a permanent lifestyle change, so you should commit to sticking with it no matter how hard it gets.
MISTAKE #3: CONSTANT COMPARISONS TO THE RESULTS OF OTHERS
If you’re someone who runs in a group, uses social media all the time, or wants to attend races and marathons, it’s not that hard to start comparing yourself to others.
There will always be someone out there faster than you. Just like there will always be someone slower than you. Running is not about comparing your metrics to the metrics of others — it’s all about you vs. you.
While any new or seasoned runner can fall into the trap of constant comparison, any new runner is more susceptible to it because they have less experience and mileage.
The solution? Compete with yourself and yourself only.
Focus on your goals and your goals only. Remember that every runner has their own experience and progresses differently than others. Look at how you are improving not just in terms of pacing and distance, but also in how you feel when you are out there.
As a new runner, your main priorities should be to establish a sustainable habit and stay healthy, both mentally and physically. While a solid training plan is a definite must, having the right mindset will help you through the ups and downs. Focus on the strategies that allow you to follow your own path to success — no one else’s — and you are going to be well on your way toward a productive, healthy relationship with running.