On the surface, running sounds like a fairly simple activity. What’s complicated about a sport that can be completed anywhere, with no equipment, all by yourself? Well in reality – quite a bit.
Many new runners are drawn to the sport for its simplicity and accessibility. Literally anyone can run – anyone. It doesn’t matter where you live, what you look like, or where you come from. Running is an all-encompassing sport that eagerly awaits any newbie.
But once you begin running, you’ll likely find that you have to conquer a few obstacles, even after you’ve been running for a while. Whether you struggle to get going or start out fine but soon find yourself challenged to continue, you’re likely encountering a common running obstacle.
These obstacles, while frustrating, bring value and reward to our sport. There is nothing quite as satisfying as conquering obstacles that once stood in your way. Whether you’re a brand-new runner or you’ve been running for a lifetime, here are a few ways to conquer the four biggest obstacles for runners.
The 4 Biggest Obstacles for Runners
Running aches and pains.
Without a doubt, one of the first obstacles new runners face is the fact that running hurts. Starting any new activity from scratch is bound to leave your body sore in new places and achy all over. However, once you add in the repeated pounding from running, many new runners find themselves questioning whether it’s worth continuing at all.
It’s challenging to continue something that’s good for you when each step feels like a literal pain. Many new runners experience soreness, breathing difficulties and cramping – just to name a few. It’s hard to imagine that things will get better, but luckily, if you push through in a smart way, your aches and pains are bound to subside.
Low running motivation.
There’s nothing quite like the excitement you feel when trying something for the first time. Getting started on something new always seems to open up a world of possibilities. Motivation is at its peak in the beginning, as you plan your runs and continue to see progress each day.
But what happens once that motivation fades? All runners struggle with low running motivation at some point or another – whether they’ve been running for one month or ten years. There will always be days when slipping on your running shoes and heading out the door is the last thing you want to do, but luckily, if you power through – low motivation never lasts.
Finding the time to run.
Adding an extra activity to your schedule feels nearly impossible when you’re already booked to the max between work, family, social obligations and chores. By the time you’ve completed your regular activities, squeezing in a run would mean hitting up the treadmill in the middle of the night.
While it definitely feels impossible on certain days, making time for running involves the same strategies as anything else in life. Being able to fit in a run on a regular basis might involve making it a priority and reducing the amount of time spent elsewhere. But remember – where there’s a will, there’s a way. If running is something you would like to keep in your life, it’s always possible to schedule it in.
Not having the right gear.
Many new runners gravitate to the sport with the belief that taking up running costs less than many other sports. There isn’t any extra equipment like balls or clubs that are required to participate, plus it can be completed anywhere, at any time of day.
However, it doesn’t take long to figure out that finding the right gear for running is just as important as it is in any other sport. Purchase ill-fitting running shoes and you might find yourself dealing with chronic injuries. Purchase the wrong fit in your tank top and you might find yourself with repeated chafing. Luckily, though, once you’ve discovered how to search for the running gear that best suits your body, it won’t take long to stock up with all the best items.
How to Overcome these Obstacles to Running
These obstacles may sound insignificant compared to more serious issues like injuries, but for any runner, each of these obstacles can present a major hurdle. Learning to deal with and manage these four common running obstacles is key to your long-term success with the sport.
Whether you’ve been running for one day or one hundred years, you’ll inevitably find yourself dealing with each of these obstacles and some point or another. Here is how to overcome the four most common running obstacles.
Managing Running Aches and Pains
Whether your back, hips or shins ache, or you are struggling with recurring side cramps, even minor aches and pains can be enough to stop you in your tracks.
The best way to manage running aches and pains is to proactively prevent them. Most common running pains, such as shin splints, IT band pain, and plantar fasciitis, occur due to muscular weakness or imbalance. Somewhere within your body, your muscles are weak, tight or inactive, which is causing another muscle to overcompensate on the run.
To avoid these common running pains, it’s important to incorporate strength training and recovery methods on a regular basis. Include at least one day of strength training in your training plan each week, and select exercises that target the entire body (not just your legs). Be sure to isolate your glutes, hips, core, arms, back, shins, calves, quads, and ankles. This will help avoid any muscle imbalances that might occur after repeated use on the run.
Aside from strength training, it’s important to take the time to properly recover after each run. Spend time foam rolling, stretching, and tending to any pains you feel from the moment they arise. Take regular rest days and adjust your training to accommodate for any pain you may be experiencing. While these activities may not be the most exciting, being proactive throughout your training is the best way to overcome and avoid recurring pain on the run.
Maintaining Running Motivation
Low motivation strikes us all from time to time, but many runners find themselves falling into a slump every once and a while. One day turns into ten and before you know it, you’re no longer motivated to lace up and head out on your run.
Overcoming low running motivation can be solved with a variety of tactics, depending on your situation. If your running has been feeling stale lately, try mixing things up by exploring new running trails, trying new workouts or joining a running group.
If running itself still feels enjoyable but getting out the door is the struggle, try preparing your gear ahead of time and avoiding any opportunity to procrastinate. Set your clothes and gear out the night before, and make a plan to run immediately when you wake up or return home from work. Take away any possible obstacles that might allow you to procrastinate.
More often than not, you’ll find that powering through a few days of low running motivation is enough to get you back on track. Remind yourself of your goals and progress to keep going when the temptation to skip grows. Remember that feelings of low running motivation every once and a while are completely normal, and will pass with time.
Finding the Time for Running
No matter how motivated and excited you feel, if you don’t have time to run, it simply won’t happen. Many of us feel like we are already struggling to get everything done each day even without adding in a run. Finding ways to make time for running can be tricky at times, but it’s not impossible.
If your days are feeling like they’re constantly jam packed, your first ordered of business is to evaluate your priorities. Think through how you’re spending your time – do you waste an hour at the end of the day watching television? Or are you volunteering for that committee which you no longer enjoy being part of?
Since you’re hoping to continue running, it is likely something that you feel very passionate about. And for good reason! So make sure it has a place near the top of your priority list. Evaluate your priorities and minimize anything that is not essential or enjoyable.
Purchasing the Right Running Gear
When you’ve gotten into a really good running groove, are feeling motivated and excited to make progress, there’s nothing worse than buying a new outfit and having it fit terribly. Whether your shoes don’t have the right support or those pants ride up when you run, having the wrong running gear can greatly impact our enjoyment on the run.
Finding the right running gear and clothes is key to being able to continue the sport. Unfortunately, it may take a bit of experimentation. Try out various clothing options, such as shorts, pants and tights, to determine which you like the best. You may need to experiment with various brands and styles to find one that suits your body best.
Remember that every runner is different, so just because your friend recommends a certain product doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed to love it as well. Try not to get discouraged throughout the process, and when you find something that works – stick with it! Take the time to get fitted for the important gear, such as running shoes, and definitely try things on before buying them.
Despite the struggles, however, just about any runner will argue that the sport is worth pursuing. Obstacles are what make the reward that much greater, and without challenge, we would never grow. Embrace these obstacles as you encounter them and remember: where there’s a will, there’s a way.
More tips for overcoming running obstacles:
- The Biggest Obstacle Keeping You from Fitness Success
- 5 Strategies to Push Past a Running Plateau
- How to Return to Running After a Long Break
- The 5 Biggest Mistakes Runners Make – and How to Fix Them