Do you spend your time running or feeling guilty for not running?

Each day that you skip knocks a little piece off your fitness and running confidence

How long does it take you to get ready to run? We can divide runners generally into two camps. The first group run without overthinking. They put on their gear, get out the door and treat running like any other item on their to-do list.

It’s a habit no different from brushing their teeth. They run whatever the weather and most likely follow a training plan. If you are in this group, I’m sure there are days when you don’t quite feel like going, but you just get out and run regardless. You might not even be aware of how disciplined you are but the structure of your running routine is admirable and something that many other runners struggle to achieve.

In the other camp

If you are reading in awe of such running motivation, you probably fit into our second category. These runners spend a lot of mental energy on running long before they even get out the door. There is the procrastination, the excuses and the internal debates to be had. These runners often prioritise everything else ahead of running, justifying more “urgent” tasks that must be done first. They check the weather forecast a little too often and can convince themselves that putting the run off until another time is the best plan. In a nutshell, they often don’t have as much time to run because they have spent too much time thinking about the run, justifying why now is not the time to run.

For the love of running

The interesting thing is that both groups of runners love how running makes them feel. We all want to run, some runners just make it more difficult on themselves than others. Over the years I have moved between the two camps, certainly being more disciplined when I have a race on the calendar and a training plan to follow. Without a “reason” to run or a running buddy to meet, I can easily fall into the mindset of considering running an indulgence, and convince myself that all my other responsibilities from family to work should take precedence. The less I move away from a structured running routine, the easier it becomes to miss more training sessions.


Why your run helps others

Naturally there are stages in our lives when other commitments mean running takes a back seat, but we need to know the difference between genuine excuses and the stories we tell ourselves. If you are an expert at putting everyone and everything else on your to-do list ahead of your run, remember this. You are no good to anyone if you are burnt out, drained or cranky. What holds a lot of us back from running better or achieving new goals rests on how much we value our running escapes. Heading out the door isn’t selfish or a waste of time. In fact, it can make us a much nicer person to be around. If we let the loud negative voice in our head become our main influencer, we miss out on so much opportunity and fulfilment that running offers to us, and those around us.

The stories we tell ourselves

Becoming aware of how much negative self-talk about your running goes on in your head is the first step to silencing the doubts and the excuses and making the commitment to change. Each day that you skip knocks a little piece off your fitness and running confidence. The more days you miss, the less likely you are to run tomorrow. Getting a little break and change of scene from what you are doing right now might just be the best thing for you – and everyone else you interact with on a daily basis. Whatever pace or distance you run doesn’t matter, it is consistency that brings the benefits.

Remember your reasons to run

We all have our own reasons why we want to be a runner. You might love running for that indescribable feeling of contentment, clarity and calm that stays with you all day after a run. You might enjoy the camaraderie, fresh air or simply getting away from screens for a little while. Some people love the sense of achievement of running faster, heading off the beaten track or simply moving their body and releasing tension from within. While feeling physically stronger is a reason to run for many, feeling mentally sharper yet relaxed is what keeps most of us wanting to remain running long into our future. With a lack of distractions and an abundance of fresh air, the mind can think freely and create new ideas and put much of our worries in perspective. The benefits are endless, yet why do we often hold ourselves back from feeling so good?

Make the call

If you have all the excuses, but know deep down that going out the door for a run, at your pace, will make you feel better, let today be the day you decide to change. The feeling of completing a run cannot be beaten yet we deprive ourselves of this as we are often so busy being busy that we forget there is another way to destress and feel a little more control of our commitments and responsibilities. There will always be jobs on your to-do list. You can always find an excuse to put off running until tomorrow. But be honest with yourself. What is actually holding you back? If you want to be a runner long into the future, only you can make that happen by taking the first step. If not today, when?

Sign up for one of The Irish Times' Get Running programmes (it is free!). 
First, pick the eight-week programme that suits you.
- Beginner Course: A course to take you from inactivity to running for 30 minutes.
- Stay On Track: For those who can squeeze in a run a few times a week.
- 10km Course: Designed for those who want to move up to the 10km mark.
Best of luck!

- Mary Jennings is founder and running coach with Her summer running programmes in Dublin and online are now open for booking