Top Running Complaints and Confessions

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So you love running (or you’re trying to, at least)  but you keep facing the same nagging issues time and time again. Here come the complaints and confessions.

Frustrated Woman

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Whether you’re dealing with silence in your own head or screaming pains in your shins: there are ways to cope. Let’s dig into some of the top complaints and confessions faced by runners, especially those just starting out. Identify what is normal and what could be holding you back from chasing your running dreams.

Step into the confessional and we’ll share with you the top complaints and confessions we hear buzzing around the running world.

Boredom

Running is the “thinking man’s sport” [1] but sometimes it just gets a bit boring, right? If you’re running day after day, as a part of your routine, it’s easy to fall into a monotonous autopilot frame-of-mind. You’re not alone.

If you’re running indoors, consider mixing up the routine with an outdoor run. Perhaps running to a particular destination to meet a friend? Or, better yet, bring that friend along for the journey and look into some fun workout games to spice it up even more!

Running is, almost by definition, repetitive for the body but it doesn’t have to be that way for your mind. Just check out these 10 Easy Ways to Put the Joy Back Into Running.

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Body Pain

So just when you have won your mental battle and you’ve gotten out there for a run, guess who rears their ugly head? Cramps, soreness, aches, and pains…we’ve all been there. The best strategy is to preempt pain with this body checklist by exercise physiologist Nikki Reiter. [2] Keep the list active in your mind as you run and routinely correct your form. If you begin to feel pain, here are some quick tips:

  • Shin splints: R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation all help. Also try working up to longer distance running very slowly and doing foot exercises. There are also special insoles, running shoes, kinesiology tape, or compression gear to help the cause.
  • Side stitches: Watch your breathing, ease pain with your hand, and stop to stretch.
  • Plantar Fasciitis: this irritation to the tough, fibrous tissue at the base of the heel is persistent and painful. Stretch, tape your arches, and use special shoe inserts. This injury can plague runners for years, proceed with caution.
  • Blisters: A blister is your skin’s way of protecting a sensitive area that’s getting burned from friction. Choose socks that will pad and protect, wear well-fitting shoes, tape your feet, or use powders and creams to reduce friction.
  • Upset Stomach: Studies suggest that 30–50% of athletes experience gastrointestinal distress. [3] That number jumps as high as 90% when broadening methodology and events studied. The solution for G.I. problems is to avoid the following before events: dehydration, pain relievers/NSAIDS, overly sweetened and high fructose food or drink, and high fiber foods.
  • Illness/flu symptoms immediately before event: Stress and anxiety can cause psychosomatic symptoms. It’s okay to run even if you have a minor sore throat or runny nose, symptoms usually taper. For major issues, rest.

For all instances of pain when running: listen to your body and if you feel abnormally unwell or symptoms persist see your doctor. And when you run, be sure to take time for a full post-run recovery.

 

Not Making Any Progress

Focusing on performance takes the joy out of running and that’s probably what got you complaining in the first place.

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The best way to train your body for running is to start slowly and gradually increase distance, knowing that results will follow suit. No need to confess here about how slow you are or how you don’t look any thinner after months of running! Just stick with it. Remember, running can be awesome, it just takes time. Stick with it. Go for slow and steady: it may take months but your results are waiting for you.

For speed running, here are some training tips to increase speed without increasing distance. And if you’re running for weight loss, Maureen McKinney outlines what you can expect in her piece for active.com. [4]

No matter what your goal, prepare to be patient: running is not a quick-fix but you can do it. It’s common to feel self-conscious or to think no one sees your progress (whether you’re losing weight, improving speed or working on another goal). Shift your focus. Progress is not instant and it is not about anyone else. This running practice is for you.

 

Falling off the wagon & how to cope

You were doing so well, you felt great, you got in the habit and even friends started to notice…but what happened? One day you had to work late, then you went out to eat for a friend’s birthday, you tried running again but you felt sick and, before you knew it, you had more non-running plans filling your time.

You’ve fallen off the wagon.

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It happens.

First, recognize this as a break. Mentally, it’s important for you to acknowledge your time off and appreciate the rest. It is also critical that you realize you did not fail at running. There is a great human fallacy in which we judge ourselves as complete when we are always a work in progress. You are a work in progress and this is just the middle of your journey to becoming a great runner.

Now, if you’re running routine wasn’t sustainable consider switching up your plan. Choose something that fits your lifestyle. Maybe run in the morning, if you work late and have evening plans crop up often. Or run with friends in the evening to keep yourself accountable. Perhaps tracking your run in an app or through photos might inspire better commitment.

Running comes with hurdles (and not just in the literal sense). Stare your confessions in the face, listen to your body’s complaints, and overcome your running challenges. It isn’t always easy, but acknowledging your weaknesses will make you a stronger runner.

 

References
  1. Reynolds, G. (2016, December 20). Running as the Thinking Person’s Sport. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/well/move/running-as-the-thinking-persons-sport.html
  2. Reiter, N. (2015, February 12). Running Posture Checklist. Retrieved from http://runsmartproject.com/2015/02/12/running-posture-checklist/.
  3. Prado de Oliveira, E., Burini, R. C., & Jeukendrup, A. (2014). Gastrointestinal Complaints During Exercise: Prevalence, Etiology, and Nutritional Recommendations. Sports Med, 44(1), 79–85.
  4. McKinney, M. (n.d.). Running for Weight Loss? Prepare to be Patient. Retrieved from http://www.active.com/articles/running-for-weight-loss-prepare-to-be-patient.
RunnerClick References
  1. Fun Workout Games that Spice Up Your Training With Friends
  2. 10 Easy Ways to Put the Joy Back Into Running.
  3. The Dreaded Side Stitch: How To Deal With It For Good
  4. The Runner’s Guide to Shin Splints
  5. Runner Hacks for Post-Run Recovery
  6. 10 Reasons Running is Awesome
  7. Training Tips to Increase Speed and Endurance
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