Let’s get something out of the way: Running isn’t easy. The inherent difficulty of the sport is what attracts competitors, makes their miniature triumphs so rewarding and keeps all of us coming back. But it’s also those reasonably founded—but easily dispelled—fears that keep non-runners from ever lacing ‘em up.
We’ve addressed each of the most common running fears and attached a recipe for conquering them. So don’t fret. You’ll be running (and loving it) in no time.
1. I'm going to be the slowest runner ever in the history of running.1 of 8
For some reason speed is often the top concern of runners. "Yeah I run, but I'm really slow," commonly says the common runner. But there is so much more to running beyond how fast you run a few miles!
How to Conquer It: Take control of your training and find a plan focused on improving your speed. If you want to get faster, incorporate speed work and tempo runs into your training. And only compare your pace to your previous pace not anyone else's.
If you're mainly worried about the idea of being a slow runner, stop focusing on time. Keep track of your runs by counting how many days a week you're running, how far you're going or how you felt on a scale of 1-10.
2. I won't be able to finish and will have to quit.2 of 8
Running is hard. That's what makes it scary and that's also what makes it so rewarding. If it was easy, you wouldn't doubt yourself. Running a new distance, a big hill or setting a new PR—whatever the goal—will be a moment you'll never forget. But you have to push through the physical challenge and the mental roadblocks to get the payoff.
How to Conquer It: You can do this, but you have to believe it. Train your mind to stay positive and push through hard runs. Most of the time our mind quits before our body does, so work as hard on your mind as you do on your body to rid yourself of doubt.
Find a motivational mantra that you repeat when you want to quit and use it in training. Any time doubt creeps into your mind, shut it down and replace it with your mantra.
If you were unable to finish the race, it would likely be due to illness or injury—factors that are often out of your control. In the unlikely event that you face a physical breakdown, cut yourself some slack.
3. I'll get hurt!3 of 8
Running-related injuries happen—even to the very best. The fear of getting hurt can mess with your head if you let it.
How to Conquer It: Most running injuries stem from overuse or an imbalance—things you can often see coming and work to prevent. Run smarter by listening to your body and doing everything you can to stay healthy.
Aim to avoid injuries altogether by building your mileage slowly, stretching after every run and respecting rest days. Above all, pay attention to the signals your body sends. Trying to run through light pain almost never ends well.
4. I'll look dumb or awkward or overweight or [insert your insecurity here]4 of 8
There's always a learning curve when you start a new hobby or sport. Just because running doesn't involve a ball or a bat, doesn't mean you don't have to learn how to run. It's a little weird at first to get into your stride (literally).
How to Conquer It: Remember that, seriously, no one cares. Everyone is very busy thinking about themselves. At the start of a race other runners are completely preoccupied with their own gear, goal and bladder. You're nowhere near their radar.
5. I'm not a real runner (and everyone will realize I don't belong).5 of 8
Most new runners go through a transition period while coming to terms with their newfound love. We're not sure what makes us an official "real" runner, so we hesitate to call ourselves a runner. Will people laugh? Will they think I'm joking? Does it sound presumptuous?
How to Conquer It: If you run, you're a runner. It doesn't matter how fast or how far. Since this is in writing on the internet it must be the official, right?
6. I'll hate it.6 of 8
If you've ever had to 'run a lap' as punishment or run a timed mile in P.E., you might not have started out on the best foot with running. It's natural to think you might hate it as much as you did when you were an awkward kid eating everyone's dust in gym class. But running by choice comes with so many possibilities! You can focus on getting healthy, running a race, joining a running club—there are so many doors running can open! But you have to, you know, actually try it first. Otherwise, you'll never know.
How to Conquer It: Keep going. The more you run the better and stronger and faster you get. Running is a rewarding sport in that, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. Slowly, it becomes more and more fun to run a new distance, run faster, run with a group or run a race. Before you know it, you'll look forward to running more than anything else in your day.
7. I'll love it.7 of 8
And, of course, if you love it, you will inevitably become one of those weirdos obsessed with running and all things running related.
How to Conquer It: Don't. Welcome to the club! We weirdos are very happy to have you. See ya on the road!