Does Running Get Easier?
Some days running is just plain hard. Especially if you are new to running, you might find yourself wondering, “Does running get easier?”.
The easy answer is that it does get easier. The more complicated answer is to say it doesn’t get easier; you get stronger (which, in turn, makes it seem easier).
However, you should know that for some people, some aspects of running will never get easier. For example, I will never find it easy to pop out of bed and go for a run first thing in the morning. My body does not wake up quickly, and I just don’t seem to acclimate to that easily.
Other people don’t warm up quickly, and for them, the first steps are the hardest. Yes, this even applies to some veteran runners. For some reason, the first few minutes or miles just don’t come easily.
Why Is The Beginning of a Run The Hardest?
There are a few reasons why that first mile is the hardest. First of all, your muscles are all cold. As you work to warm up your muscles, it feels harder than when you are all warmed up and ready to perform. This is one reason why many runners subscribe to the “try for ten minutes” mantra.
This means that you lace up and commit to running for at least 10 minutes “out” on a route. If you aren’t feeling it after ten minutes, you can turn around. If you’ve done only that, you have accomplished at least (roughly) twenty minutes of running, which is way better than nothing!
Most runners report feeling pretty darn good and run for at least a bit longer than the 20 minutes minimum. Many runners report they go considerably further.
Yes, sometimes the first steps are the hardest. This is particularly true if it is very cold, snowing, raining, or super hot. Yes, the temperature comes into play a lot!
Exercise endorphins are a very real thing, but they don’t kick in immediately. Therefore, it stands to reason that you won’t feel fantastic right away in the run. Again, if you are patient with your body and give it a little time, that can (and usually does) change.
Sometimes we hurt ourselves by starting at too fast or too easy of a pace. When this happens, you need to dial in on what you are trying to achieve with the run.
New To Running?
If you are completely new to running and think that is why you struggle some, there are some great things and tips to keep in mind.
First, you may find it hard to figure out what to wear to keep yourself comfortable and safe. How does this pertain to running getting easier?
Well, if you are a rookie and are unsure how to dress, you may end up wearing too much or not enough clothing and being terribly uncomfortable. Some pieces of advice to set yourself up for success is to dress for the weather.
If it’s cold, remember you should be a bit chilly for the first mile or so as your body warms up. If you put on enough layers to be comfortable standing around outside, you will sweat and overheat on the run.
When this happens, it certainly isn’t easy to keep moving! Conversely, you will be miserable if you don’t wear enough layers or forget the gloves and hat. This also makes running difficult.
Safety gear is important for multiple reasons. A headlamp will help you see where you are running and any potential surprises up ahead, and a reflective or light-up vest will help others see you. The safer you are, the more relaxed you will be. It stands to reason if you feel safe, it will also feel easier to keep moving.
You should expect some muscle soreness but not actual pain. Make sure you mix it up, so you aren’t running hard efforts back to back. If you are a complete newbie, be sure to schedule some rest and easy days purposefully.
If you are hoping to make running a lifestyle change, you need to accept something: you won’t always want to go. Since you can’t count on always staying motivated, you need to be disciplined.
If you are a recreational runner with no specific goals in mind, this is less important. However, if you are training for your first half or full marathon, you need to forget about being motivated and work on your discipline. The miles don’t complete themselves.
How Long Does It Take For Your Body to Adjust to Running?
Experts in the running community say it takes about six weeks for your body to get used to running and adjust to what you are asking of it. This is because you are making physiological changes to your body which does not happen overnight. Just like a dieter does not drop that ten pounds in a day, you won’t suddenly become a running machine quickly.
It would help if you gave your body time to realize what you are asking of it and practice some patience. You also need to find a time of day that works for you. Some people will tell you you need to get it done first thing in the morning to check it off your list.
But what if mornings are a stressful time in your house? Or if you have a spouse, and morning is the only time the two of you can connect? The point is, there is no best time. The best time is what works for you.
When you find yourself asking, “does running get easier?” you also have to ask yourself if you keep increasing the intensity of your training without giving your body any time.
What I mean is, are you adding more and more miles every week? Are you jumping into track workouts that are a bit challenging for your physical or mental self?
Don’t get me wrong, it is great to challenge yourself, and I strongly encourage it! But if you are always pushing for more without giving your body time to catch up, you could be putting yourself at a physical and mental disadvantage. Remember: even elites take easy days and rest days.
Does Running Get Easier?
In some ways, running clearly gets easier. As you start to run more consistently and figure out what works for you, you will find that someday it all clicks together. On those days, the run will feel almost effortless, and afterward, your body will be full of happy runner endorphins. All will be good in the world.
It also stands to reason that on other days, running will just plain suck. It will be hard, and you will be filled with self-doubt. That is also normal, and the struggle is one of the things that makes it special.
So no, running doesn’t actually get easier; you just get stronger: physically and mentally. You’ve got this!
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