What To Do When You Can't Run
By Nike Running
Look beyond the miles to improve your performance and strengthen your love of running.
There's a lot you can do to improve your running performance without lacing up. Chris Bennett, Nike Running global head coach, takes us through his tips to be a better runner even when you're not out on the road.
You can become a better runner without taking an extra step. We're not just talking about strength training and working on your mobility and flexibility. Developing certain habits can complement your regular running routine and help you get through a tough period when you can't or don't feel like running.
Whatever your situation, these five tips can help you run stronger and happier.
01. Be a Fan
If you polled your running friends, how many of them would actually have an answer to the question, "Who's your favourite runner?" Meanwhile, basketball fans can fight for hours over whether LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo is better this year. Being a fan of a sport naturally stokes your enthusiasm to take part in it. Yet, says Nike Running global head coach Chris Bennett, "runners can have a total disconnect between participating in the activity and being a fan of the sport".
And that's a shame, because running is one of the most relatable sports. "I may not know what it feels like to dunk a ball, but I sure as hell know what it's like to run down a home straight and yell, 'Eff yeah!' like Shalane Flanagan", Bennett says. Watching Flanagan's final moments in the New York City Marathon, a running documentary or Olympic footage of gold-medal performances can encourage you to relive your best running moments and get you pumped to recreate them.
Being a fan of a sport naturally stokes your enthusiasm to take part in it.
02. Keep a Running Log
This is more about journaling than tracking miles on an app. "A running log is an opportunity for you to sit down and actually record what happened and what you learnt from a run", says Bennett. "It's not about the numbers, it's about recording your running story".
Think of it like this: Maybe you went out for a 5-mile run and felt sluggish. But then you flip back a few weeks in your log and see that you only used to be able to run 2 and a half miles, full stop. The realisation that, even on a tough day, you went twice as far—and maybe even a little faster, and with a better attitude—is a powerful motivator. You can't get that kind of emotional insight from scrolling through data on a fitness tracker.
03. Shift Your Mindset
Life gets in the way, and your goals as a runner can get sidetracked. But if you're beating yourself up because you didn't or can't get out and run, you're not helping yourself get any closer to your goals. Instead, acknowledge that things come up, and talk to yourself like you're talking to a teammate or someone you care about, says Bennett.
"Every time you start a run, within the first minute, tell yourself that you're a badass", he says. "It's not easy to start a run, in good times or bad". Positive self-talk is a skill that you learn, and one you can practise even when you're not running. That stronger mindset will come with you on every run, now and in the future.
"Talk to yourself like you're talking to a teammate or someone you care about"
Nike Running Global Head Coach, Chris Bennett
04. Lean In to Recovery
Not being able to run is incredibly frustrating, regardless of the reason. But it's also an opportunity to prioritise the things that will help you to feel better in the short term and make you a better runner when you get back to it: sleep and nutrition.
Sleep is when your body recovers best from all kinds of mental and physical stressors, Bennett says. Getting more and better sleep can be as simple as adopting one healthy sleeping habit, such as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
And good nutrition doesn't have to mean overhauling your diet or stressing about hitting your macros. Start by making one small change, like adding a vegetable to your meal or swapping a fizzy drink for a glass of water. Rather than sweeping changes that you'll soon toss out, these tiny steps are easy to adopt and will go a long way towards keeping your body in running condition.
05. Find Other Ways to Move
The "runner's high" can feel addictive, making you crave the next workout as soon as you finish the one you're doing. However, Bennett says, "You don't have to actually run to get the benefits a run can give you".
For example, he suggests, you could put on a killer playlist and dance and laugh and jump around for 30 minutes. "You're going to work your cardiovascular system, and endorphins are going to flood through your body", he says. "You'll still get the same physical and emotional benefits without running a step".