So, lace up those running shoes, embrace the process, and remember, the most rewarding journeys are the ones that require time, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to progress and usually push you beyond what you find comfortable.

Overcoming the Early Hurdles: Why People Quit Running and How to Stay the Course

It has happened to me multiple times over the last 20 years. Sometimes whatever you have committed to just seems to hard, maybe you have had a bad day or week, you didn’t eat what you should have, you drank too much alcohol, you slept badly, you were away on business, there was just not enough time, you injured yourself, you got ill, you got distracted, you convinced yourself that you were not good enough, you just lost your mojo and no longer believed in what you were doing, so why bother.


I did bother, I did persevere and finally after 2 decades and several false starts and re-starts I took my running to where it always should have been. You can to.


Here are some of the lessons I learnt along the way.  


Embarking on a running journey can be both exhilarating and challenging. However, a significant number of people find themselves giving up before experiencing any substantial progress. So, what prompts this early abandonment, and how can we equip ourselves to overcome these hurdles and stay committed? 


 The Early Struggles


Overwhelming Expectations

One common reason people quit running prematurely is setting unrealistic expectations. Some envision immediate weight loss or endurance improvements, only to be disheartened when progress is slower than anticipated. It's essential to recognise that running is a gradual process, and results take time.


Perseverance is key.


Physical Discomfort

Running can initially be uncomfortable, especially for those new to the activity. Muscle soreness, joint discomfort, and even shortness of breath can be daunting for beginners. Without proper guidance, these physical challenges may discourage individuals from continuing their running journey. Talk to a running coach or more experienced runner to understand what to expect. 


Running by its very nature will take you out of your comfort zone


Lack of Structure

Many newcomers to running do not have a structured plan in place. Running aimlessly without a clear goal or progression plan can lead to boredom and a lack of motivation. Develop a goal, make a plan to get there. 


Failing to plan really means that you plan to fail


Comparison Trap

Social media and fitness apps can inadvertently contribute to a sense of inadequacy. Use a private training platform, there are many free ones available. Constantly comparing one's progress to others, particularly seasoned runners, may result in feelings of discouragement and a belief that one is not progressing fast enough or that you will never be taken seriously. 

Remember this is your journey and you are only ever competing against yourself


 Strategies to Prevent Early Abandonment


Realistic Goal Setting

Set achievable, short-term goals that align with your current fitness level. Celebrate small victories, whether it's running an extra minute or completing an additional kilometer. Gradual progress is still progress. 

One bad run, does NOT a bad runner make


Proper Guidance

Seek advice from experienced runners, qualified coaches, or join running communities. Seek to put a well-structured training plan, personalised to your abilities and goals. This will make the journey more manageable and enjoyable. Many runners will have a view, but much of the opinion shared may seem contradictory. Seek qualified advice where you can. 

There are many voices and opinions, all well intentioned, but NOT necessarily qualified or well-informed


Embrace Discomfort

Accept and understand that no one achieved anything whilst remaining in their comfort zone. Understand that discomfort is a part of the process. Muscles need time to adapt, and initial soreness is normal. Gradually increase intensity and distance to allow your body to adjust. If you are not sure how to do this get in touch with a coach or buy a tailored training plan. 


Variety in Training

Spice up your running routine with variety. Incorporate interval training, trail running, hill running, speed work, or join group runs to keep things interesting. A diverse routine helps prevent monotony and will enhance overall fitness.

Variety is the spice of life

 Social Support

Running with a friend or joining a running group can provide motivation and accountability. Encouraging each other during tough moments can make the journey more enjoyable. As can the cup of tea or coffee after the run.


Celebrate Progress

Instead of fixating on how far you have to go, reflect on how far you've come. Regularly acknowledge your achievements, whether it's improved stamina, better form, or simply staying consistent with your runs.


Mindset Shift

Embrace a positive mindset. Understand that progress takes time, and every step forward, regardless of size, contributes to your overall improvement. Focus on the joy and sense of accomplishment that running can bring.


 The Long-Term Benefits of Perseverance

Running is not just about achieving a specific distance or pace; it's a holistic journey that encompasses physical, mental, and emotional well-being. By addressing the early challenges and implementing strategies for sustained commitment, individuals can unlock the numerous benefits that running offers – from improved cardiovascular health and increased stamina to enhanced mood and stress relief.


So, lace up those running shoes, embrace the process, and remember, the most rewarding journeys are the ones that require time, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to progress and usually push you beyond what you find comfortable. 


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