Six Reasons Not to Run (and Why Most Are BS)
Say goodbye to mental blocks and start lacing up with solutions from Nike Running global head coach, Chris Bennett.
Yesterday you said you’d run tomorrow. But tomorrow turned into today and, man, is it hot outside. Plus you’re tired from working late. And you don’t have any clean shorts. Sound familiar? You’re not alone: A recent survey showed that Americans make an average of six excuses per day, or more than 2,000 per year, and I-can’t-exercise ones top the list. It’s like every runner has a devil on one shoulder and, well, a devil on the other.
As Nike Running global head coach, Chris Bennett has heard every excuse imaginable. Here, he shares the top six excuses he hears people use to avoid running — and his simple solutions to get you moving.
Excuse #1: “Running is exhausting.”
Solution: Stop before you want to.
“The No. 1 reason people think they don’t like running is because they’re running too hard,” says Bennett. “I want your run to feel easy, which has nothing to do with the numbers on your watch. I’m talking easy as in effort. That means you stop yourself before you need to, maybe even before you want to. Is there a moment you feel like you could go forever? Cut it off right then. That’s how you flip the conversation from dreading your next run to looking forward to it. I want you to be annoyed that you have to stop so soon! If it makes you feel better, you can blame me.”
Excuse #2: “I don’t know how to run correctly.”
Solution: Know there’s no such thing.
“The way you run is the way you run, OK?” says Bennett. “There's no perfect stride. There's no perfect form. If you watch tape of Paula Radcliffe, with her head bob and her shoulders up and her arms…you go, ‘Someone needs to teach her how to run!’ Well, thank goodness nobody did. She held the women’s marathon record for 16 years. So instead of trying to follow some textbook, try building on your natural form in really subtle ways. Relax areas when you notice they feel tight. Shorten your stride when you feel you’re reaching.”
Excuse #3: “I don’t have enough time for a warm-up.”
Solution: Make your warm-up part of your run.
“I’ll give you two ways out of this one,” says Bennett. “First, a warm-up is just mental preparation and re-creating the actions of an actual run. So one option is to just start your run slower and use the first five to 10 minutes as a dynamic warm-up. Second, you could just do your stretches and make the run shorter — because remember, there’s no minimum time or distance. Either way, you got your warm-up and your run in, so you’ve got nothing to complain about.”
Excuse #4: “Ugh. Have you seen the weather?”
Solution: Plan ahead.
“Well, it really might be too hot or cold,” says Bennett. “Extreme conditions can be dangerous, so sometimes you don’t run. But let’s assume it’s just uncomfortable. There are ways you can plan ahead. One, you adjust your apparel to fit the environment. Two, you adjust the time of day that you run. And three, you adjust the intensity of the run itself. You might not get the run you want, but you can still get the run you need.”
Excuse #5: “I don’t have the right body type for running.”
Solution: Get over yourself.
“Oh, please point me to the ‘right’ body,” says Bennett. “Is there also a right accent? A right haircut? Even on the starting line of a marathon, you’ve got all sorts of different people. When you say you don’t have the right body, you might mean, ‘I’ve decided I can’t do this.’ Or maybe, way back when, someone looked at you and decided for you. So how do you unlearn that? You redefine what a run is. Can’t run a 5K? Nobody asked you to. I just want you to run from here to the end of the block. A runner is someone who runs. You check that one box? You’re a runner.”
Excuse #6: “Running is too hard on my [insert whatever hurts].”
Solution: Train for strength.
“Any time you mention pain, there could be an injury,” explains Bennett. “So the short-term answer is yeah, maybe you shouldn’t be running right now. But you shouldn’t feel bad about that. Look at it this way: You’ve become such a good runner that you need to catch up as an all-around athlete. Congrats! So you look at why those injuries are happening. Are you strengthening your hip flexors? Are you strengthening your core and the muscles that stabilize your knees, like the quads? It’s never a lot of extra work — maybe holding a plank, doing some reverse lunges — and it can make a big difference in keeping you healthy.”
Overcome any of these obstacles and you may realize that persisting even when you don’t think you want to is part of the beauty of running.
“Sometimes your run is going to suck,” says Bennett. “Maybe you’re stressed about a fight with your mom. Maybe you had a terrible night’s sleep. But if you finish the run, even if it’s just to the end of the block, you can say, ‘I did that. I ran through that. I learned something about myself.’ The possibility of feeling that again is what gets you back out there. Sometimes you need that hope when you put your head on the pillow at the end of the day. It’s just one effing victory — and a run offers it.”
So next time you’re contemplating lacing up, go ahead and picture Coach Bennett on one, or both, of your shoulders and leave that excuse in the dust.
Words: Daniel Menasche
Illustration: Ryan Johnson