Theoretically, you are lifting your full body weight and propelling yourself forward on every step, so it is understandable that it can seem difficult, especially if you’re new to running or coming back after a long time off.
Let’s find out why running can feel hard, but more importantly, we will bring you some tips that can help you to make running much more comfortable and more enjoyable.
It is actually okay to find running really hard or not enjoy it. We’ve all been through phases of that.
It’s a funny one because running is something that, in theory, is natural. We are never taught how to do it – we’re just able to.
On the flip side, you’re actually putting two to three times at your body weight through your joints when you go running, so your body obviously is gonna need some time to adapt to that.
Most people who struggle with running complain about a few common threads: having a tight chest, feeling breathless, having uncomfortable clothing, getting pain in joints, and not being sure where to go running, getting bored, lacking motivation – the list goes on. But the positive note is there are things you can do about all of those.
Comfort is key, especially when it comes to running. So let’s start at the bottom with your feet and talk about shoes as they can make the difference between you enjoying a run or never wanting to run again. Make sure you’ve got a pair that are specifically for running as they will offer you a certain amount of support and cushioning – you need more than you would if you were just walking.
The repercussions of the right footwear go beyond just your feet because it’s actually going to affect your joints and the rest of your body too.
Clothing is important too! You don’t spend a small fortune but just look for fabrics and a certain amount of breathability as they will help you wick away sweat and keep your body at a more stable temperature and make you more comfortable. If it’s cold, then opt for layers, and you can always unzip them or tie them around your waist when you get hot. It’s far easier than having one really thick piece of clothing.
Even with really great running specific fabrics, you can still get chafing. It’s completely normal, especially if you’re running in the heat or you’re doing a longer run, so just use some lubricant in those patches that are likely to chafe. Girls, please make sure you get a correctly fitting sports bra as without the right support, you really aren’t going to enjoy going for a run.
Running is a cardiovascular exercise that will cause your heart rate and breathing rate to rise, which is normal. But if you’re not used to it, then it can feel a little uncomfortable to start with especially feeling slightly out of breath.
However, there is a difference between feeling out of breath and having a tight chest. If you get that symptom, then you need to ease off because it’s probably a sign you’ve gone out too hard too soon.
It can be exacerbated by the cold weather as well, so it’s all about pacing yourself and having a plan. It’s perfectly fine to walk if you need to just to get your breath back under control.
If you set out with a plan to – do a bit of a run and walk – you’ll feel far more satisfied that you’ve accomplished it instead of going out and trying to run it all.
Running can be boring, especially on long runs. After all, you are just putting one foot in front of the other continuously, and some of us need more mental stimulation than others.
Some people are quite happy to just go out and run, but some people need some form of distraction to get through the discomfort they feel with running. That’s totally fine. There are so many options out, for instance, you can get some good headphones, download and engaging podcast or really upbeat playlist. Or you can get a friend come along so you can chat, and it’s amazing how quickly whether you’re chatting – time can just fly by.
Just go out and explore. Leave your watch and your phone behind and go and try some new running routes and you might find yourself enjoying it and getting lost in the moment.
When we run, the force is absorbed through our joints, our ankles, knees, hips, and back. Sometimes due to poor technique, lack of conditioning or incorrect footwear can lead to aches and pains in certain areas.
You obviously need to check your footwear that we talked about, incorporate a certain amount of conditioning, and some stretching work, but also you need to allow your body to adapt and not increase the amount of running of doing too quickly.
You might have heard about the 10% rule. It’s something you can’t reiterate enough, so you should only increase the mileage that you’re doing by 10% each week.
Say, you’re running a total of 10 km per week at the moment. Next week should be no more than 11 km and so on.
Another factor that can actually help with shock absorption is to think about a surface that you’re running on. If you’ve got an option of running on some grass or gravel as opposed to hard asphalt, that’ll be a little bit kinder on your body.
If you’re running fast down a hill, that’s going to be a lot more impact on your body than running on the flat or uphill.
If you push yourself really hard on your run, you might feel it the next day, and some people find that quite a satisfactory feeling but for others, it might be so intense that it actually puts you off wanting to go out for another run.
In order to reduce the chance of that feeling, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a warm-up and a warm down for every run, and that could be just a bit of a walk.
It’s completely fine to start your run with a walk and finish it with a walk. If you don’t want to do that, then before heading out the door, try to fit in a bit of a mobility routine and start super slowly with your jog so that your body is just warmed up and ready to go.
The same goes for the other end – try and finish with a few stretches just to give your body the best chance of recovering.
Once you are not too slow – no one is too slow.
If you’re out there and you’re running, you’re putting one foot in front of the other faster than a walking pace, then you’re doing great.
So many people start off too hard, and after a few runs they give up because they’re just finding it too difficult. There is no right or wrong pace. You need to be running at a pace that is comfortable for you or as easy as you can manage.
Ultimately you need to be able to enjoy your run, so if that means leaving your watch behind and just heading out the door, then do it and embrace the run.
Losing motivation is so common if you’re finding running hard in the first place, then it’s only going to get tougher to get yourself out of the door, but hopefully, by addressing those earlier points, that’s going to be less of an issue.
Having some sort of goal helps in running motivation and doesn’t matter what it is – it could be running your local park run or doing a certain number of runs per week.
Another little treat that you can use – if you are really struggling with my running mojo, then getting something new like a pair of socks or a nice pair of running shoes will help you get to go running.
Focus on those endorphins you get afterward and look forward to that satisfactory glow you have when you finish around.