Learning how to keep running even when you feel like stopping is a skill that runners rely on time and time again. From those first few steps when you can’t catch your breath, to the increasing mileage of marathon training, the temptation to walk never goes away.
Many new runners assume that running non-stop will get easier with time, and while that may be true for their current training goals, it’s not always the case. As runners get more experienced, training difficulty increases and the urge to walk or stop running still appears with each new challenge.
Why can’t I run without stopping?
Running without stopping is a skill that takes time and practice to develop. Even the most experienced runners are still tempted to stop and walk from time to time. However, the more you train and increase the length of time you run without stopping, the better you will become at fighting the urge.
As your fitness improves, you’ll be able to run for longer distances and at faster speeds before you are tempted to stop or quit. In addition to fitness, you’ll increase your own willpower and be able to overcome the urge to walk for longer periods of time.
How do I keep running without stopping?
Running non-stop is a skill that requires both physical and mental strength. In order to keep running without stopping, you’ll need the physical fitness to persevere when your body starts to get tired, and the mental strength to overcome the urge to quit.
8 Ways to Keep Running When You Want to Stop
Whether you’re a new runner or are pushing yourself to accomplish new running goals, you’ll likely face the temptation to stop and walk at some point. Here are 8 tricks to help you keep running even when you want to quit.
Don’t stop right away
When you’re first tempted to walk – keep going. Make it a goal to never stop running and walk when the thought first arises. Just about always, you’ll find that the body can keep going for much longer than your mind tells you.
Try to power through those first few temptations and keep running for just a little bit longer. Every time you run for a little bit longer before walking, you’ll increase your endurance and gain confidence.
Find a distraction
It’s easy to dwell on misery or pain. Rather than ruminating in the fact that you are tired or sore and just want to walk, try to focus on something else. Find a way to distract yourself to keep your mind away from the temptation to stop.
Anything from listening to music, focusing on your surroundings, repeating a mantra or envisioning the end can provide great distractions during a run.
Focus on landmarks
Another simple way to keep running without stopping is to focus on landmarks and pick something in your surroundings to which you will run. Once you arrive at your designated landmark, see if you can keep running just a little bit further to another.
Something as simple as the big tree ahead, the house with the red car, or the next turn in the trail provide concrete landmarks that serves as goals to which you’ll run. More often than not, when we know we have a walk break coming up, we’ll be able to power through whatever pain or fatigue we’re experiencing until we get there.
If you are struggling to keep running, another easy way to keep your mind distracted is to count. Counting is quick and accessible, and can help distract from whatever pain or struggle you might be feeling.
To extend the time you run, try to keep running until you are able to count to 50, 100, etc., after you initially consider stopping. Each time you run, try to put off stopping just a little longer to build endurance.
When running is new or training is challenging, planning ahead is the best way to keep running when you feel like stopping or are wanting to quit. Accepting the fact that things are going to feel difficult at some point during the run will allow you to create a game plan for when that happens.
Be proactive and plan ahead by deciding what you are going to do when you find yourself wanting to stop. Perhaps you decide that you won’t walk until a certain distance, are going to count to 100 before you actually stop, or will turn on your music when those thoughts enter your head. Having a plan of action ahead of time will encourage you to follow through and help you stay accountable.
Start with run/walk intervals
Sometimes the best way to keep running when you want to stop is to follow a program that’s designed to push you just a little further each time, while still providing you with a break. Run/walk programs are a great way to gradually increase your endurance without making you miserable.
Rather than waiting to see when you want to quit, create or follow a run/walk program that sets up designated intervals. Some programs have runners run for a certain number of minutes, followed by a quick walk break, while others break it down based on distance.
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Take time to experiment and find a program that works best for you. The goal of these programs is to gradually increase running time while decreasing walking, until you are able to keep running non-stop the entire time.
Remember your goal
When all else fails, a great way to stay motivated to continue running is remember why you started. Oftentimes the most effective way to keep going is to remember that running is a choice, and there is a reason you started.
Keep your goals and purpose on the forefront of your mind throughout training, and focus on them during tough moments where you want to stop.
Create a routine
Establishing a routine is a great way to trick your body and mind into keeping running when you want to stop. Once a routine is established and practiced, it becomes second nature for our body. If you are used to running non-stop, you’ll probably be able to continue to do so even on the runs that feel a bit more difficult.
If you typically run until you reach a certain point, it’ll be easier to motivate yourself to keep going until you reach that point – even if things feel hard. Make running non-stop a routine and you’ll probably find that thoughts of walking or stopping disappear.
Running non-stop takes practice, but success comes naturally with a little perseverance. Remember that wanting to stop, quit or walk is normal at any point in the journey – regardless of whether you’re just getting started or are a seasoned pro.
Being intentional with your strategy, creating a plan, sticking with a routine and listening to your body will all set you up to successfully keep running when you want to stop.