So you’re new (#2016) to running and already having doubts? Here’s my advice:
It’s all mental. What I’ve learned from experience as a cross-country, track, and casual-exercise runner is that your body can handle your run; your head can’t. The way to become a runner is to cut out the negative chatter in your mind that says you can’t. I would start by giving yourself small milestones while running. Perhaps, at first, you could run one quarter of a mile, walk, and then run again. Then, challenge yourself by doing more each week until you're running thee miles straight, no problem! By slowly building up overtime and pacing yourself, you’ll outwit your own mind and become more confident in yourself as an athlete (yes, you are an athlete. Don’t let the negativity tell you otherwise). I’ve also found that tuning my mind out does wonders for my resilience. You can do this is a number of ways: pump-up jams, an inspiring and engrossing podcast or by chatting with a close friend. I also like to let my mind wander and think about other things while I'm running. I tend to think about my day or people in my life or things I'd like to do and that tends to keep my thoughts off of my physical exertion.
And it's all about preparation. The major key to success with running is to—get this—run. You aren’t going to become a marathon runner on your hopes and dreams alone. You need to put in the time. From a number of self-help books I read over the break, I’ve learned a few things: 1) when you have something that you are trying to start doing regularly, you should do it in the morning so that you get it out of the way before your mind can tell you to go watch Netflix and munch on popcorn; 2) a habit takes 66 days to form, so if you plan to be a runner, you need to look into the future and make a commitment to do just that. When you have the right mentality and the right schedule, you're setting yourself up for success.
It's all good. While running can be hampered by the mind, it's actually really good for it. I always feel less frazzled, less negative and more energetic after I run. I've gotten to a point as an athlete where I feel badly and unlike myself when I'm not exercising. I believe this is the case for most people who have discovered the joy of running. It releases a childlike pleasure in you; that happiness that comes with bounding, no real purpose or intention in mind, just for the sake of the feeling of movement, of the power your body holds, of the speed you can achieve. Running is, as cliche as it may sound, freeing, and I'd really encourage you all to give it a go.