Thank you to Tees Barrage Parkrun for this photo.
Everybody has a run now and then when your feet/body/mind just don’t want to join in the fun (right?) and you just desperately want to stop moving. When you’re a new runner – building up your aerobic, physical and mental strength – these moments come a bit more often than you might like.
I’m training for the York Marathon currently, and my marathon training plan involves running 6 days a week, which means that I’m often running on tired legs. This means that I’m having to use some of the tricks that used to get me through in the early days. I’ve called my responses to each problem “my solution” because they are just that – the things that get ME through difficult times when I’m running. They are very personal, sometimes a bit odd, but they keep my size fours in motion and I hope they help you too.
Shortness of Breath
The issue: You’re puffing, you’re panting, it doesn’t feel like you can get enough air into your lungs. Dizziness looms. Why on earth would you do this for fun?
My solution: First, stand up straight. Then, breathe OUT. Rather than focussing on trying to suck in as much air as you can as possible, think about pushing out with each exhalation. Ignore the ‘in’ breaths. Air will rush in automatically from higher pressure to low once your lungs are emptier. I try to count my out breaths as 1-2-3 but if this makes you light headed, go a bit faster or slower. Psychologically, it feels better to concentrate on a smooth, sure ‘out’ breath than trying to drag in a jagged ‘in’ breath that feels far from guaranteed.
Getting Slower and Slower
The issue: To put it in the British colloquial: you’re knackered. Legs feel like lead, each foot step is a drag; if you were going any slower, you’d be stopped.
My solution: Count footsteps and make bargains with yourself. “If I still feel like stopping after 20 left foot strikes, then I’m allowed to. Ok, after another 20 I can”. If I’m less than two miles from home this silly bargaining can take me all the way to my front door. Plus, it takes way longer to get home to your smoothie and shower if you walk.
The issue: You’re not moving any more. You are on pause. You’re no longer running – it’s just called ‘standing about in lycra’.
My Solution: It’s important to discern between discomfort and pain. If you’re in pain, be kind to yourself and take it easy. If, on the other hand, you’re just experiencing some discomfort, reflect on this. What is it in you that wants to stop? Are you breathing properly? Are you lifting your feet? Are you slouching and reducing the space in your lungs? Focus on one thing and master it.
If you keep finding yourself stopping on runs, make yourself an offer you can’t refuse and catch public transport and run back home again, like we do on our Saltaire Half Marathon. Or, do an out-and-back run and don’t turn around until you’re further than halfway done. So, if you normally quit at 3 miles, run 2 miles before turning round and by the time you’re home, you’ll have to manage 4.
The Weather is Not Very Nice
The issue: It’s raining.
My Solution: Keep going! It’s actually lovely running in the rain. Make sure you dry between your toes when you get home…
What keeps you moving when you don’t want to keep running? Do you have any tricks and tips to share with our readers?