Have you struggled to start running consistently for months? Maybe even years?
This is something I hear a lot about from readers.
So many people try and form a running habit and end up failing.
Which usually makes them feel they aren’t cut out for it, so they just give up.
And it has nothing to do with their abilities! It has everything to do with their approach.
Running while a simple sport is one of the most resented in all of the fitness community.
There’s a polarity that seems to exist between people who love it and people who despise it.
You rarely find people who exist in the middle.
Why is this?
The people who love running have simply cracked the code.
They took the right approach and got the results they wanted: which was to form a running habit that they genuinely enjoy.
Those who approached running the wrong way, usually ended up with negative feelings towards it.
They ended up feeling frustrated and incapable.
Which is so unfortunate.
Especially since I always like to think the people who hate running are really “great runners who just don’t know it yet.”
Because half the time…it’s true.
Here I’ll walk you through the 12 reasons why you haven’t yet formed a running habit successfully.
Or at least you think you do!
As I briefly mentioned, those that hate running normally think they do because they haven’t successfully formed a running habit.
They’re making their failure with running mean something about them.
Only decide whether you hate running after you’ve been running for a solid month.
In the beginner stages running sucks for everyone.
For many, what makes it seem so ruthless in the beginning is the simplicity of it.
Any sport feels difficult at first! But with running, it’s just you and the road.
Which causes people to notice the discomfort in a clearer way.
It’s easier to become frustrated and impatient when the activity of running SEEMS so simple.
I’m the perfect person to teach you this because I hated running for years!
My relationship with running was awful.
I would constantly think, “What’s so friggin’ hard about this?! Why can’t I just run like a normal person?”
Which of course led me to become frustrated and quit many, many times.
But, eventually, I gave it a real chance. And it paid me back ten times over.
It takes a little time and effort before you start to reap the actual rewards from running.
Which is the case with anything worth having.
However, once you crack that code, running starts to feel enjoyable.
Which is when it gets addicting.
If I could give one single tip to be successful at anything in life it would be consistency.
Consistency is king.
Only by the accumulation of small, everyday efforts do massive life-changing results happen.
You need to show up for yourself every single day.
I love the quote by Brooke Castillo that states, “Big wins are made up of little wins. Big quits are made up of little quits.”
Each step you take matters, no matter how small the step.
So, if you attempt a running habit and want to see results, follow through with your plans to run.
Those shorter, difficult runs in the beginning are the most important.
It’s likely you see runners on the side of the road and think, “What do they have that I don’t?”
Well, what they have is the ability to persist and keep running – even when it doesn’t feel so good.
Every runner you see went through the same sucky beginner stage you’re currently going through.
It’s easy to look at experienced runners and think they’re unicorns.
That it comes naturally to them.
The difference between them and you is that they simply kept going.
You’ll need to think of the “beginner stage” as a right of passage you’ll have to conquer in order to earn the right for running to feel enjoyable.
Running may be simple, but it’s not easy.
For many people who start running their ego takes over from the first step.
They feel that if others can run at top speed than they should be able to as well.
Which means instead of slowly building up their running legs they sprint out the door like a bat out of hell.
Usually, it only takes about a quarter of a mile for these over-excited newbies to fall flat on their face (hopefully figuratively).
What’s surprising is you’d think these individuals would understand why they failed.
They didn’t start small enough. Simple, right?
However, most of the time, frustration ensues, and they come to the conclusion that running just isn’t for them.
Don’t be one of these people! Start slow.
Running isn’t supposed to feel good at first.
Which is the case for any workout you start that your body isn’t previously familiar with.
However, I’ll admit…
Running has the potential to really not feel good at first.
But this isn’t a reason to not do it.
Let me explain why…
Our brains primitively teach us to think that anything which makes us feel badly is wrong.
Which means our cerebellum (aka our primitive brain) freaks out every time we attempt something new and uncomfortable.
It’s trying to protect us by giving us thoughts that self-sabotage our goals.
This primitive resistance held me back from my running goals for a very long time.
For years, the fact that running felt crappy was the main reason I always quit.
I mean why would I want to do something that felt so awful?
What I didn’t realize is that running gives you so much more back than you put into it.
After running consistently for a few weeks, I was happier, looked healthier, lost weight, slept better, and just became a better human being all around.
I’d say this is worth a handful of crappy runs, right?
I’ll regularly get people asking me how they can make running feel easier.
The first tip I usually give is to simply run more, since that’s the only way to make it feel easier in the long-term.
However, the other tip I give is to brainstorm every possible way you could make those initial crappy runs feel a tad less unenjoyable.
I’ll be honest, most people aren’t interested in taking the time to figure this out.
Most just want a magic elixir that will make them instantly love running.
But don’t let this be you!
Take the time to really think about ways you can make your runs enjoyable.
My favorite ways to entertain myself are podcasts, running in nature, listening to audiobooks, or incorporating some interval training.
This is never a reason to fail at forming a running habit.
When most people really examine their schedules, there are plenty of ways they could realistically incorporate a simple training plan into their week.
Most who use this as an excuse are really in avoidance mode.
Their fear of starting a running habit (and failing) is causing them to convince themselves that time is an issue.
This is a common form of self-sabotage that I see super often.
When I finally got over my fear and began managing my time efficiently, I was able to form a consistent running habit without much fuss.
Time-management is a simple concept that gives you immense freedom and structure in your life.
By managing your time effectively, you can incorporate running into your schedule – no problem.
The concept of instant gratification has never been a bigger problem than it is today.
In this age, most of our needs can be met with a click of a button.
Unfortunately for us, the same cannot be said of forming a running habit.
Or any fitness habit for that matter.
Many refuse to accept this and think that any results they desire in life should happen quickly.
They refuse to put in a real effort when it comes to running.
The tough-love truth is this: we are insanely spoiled.
We have lost touch with the fact that hard work is necessary to obtain worthy results.
It sounds cliché, but it’s true: If running were easy, everyone would do it.
What makes the results so spectacular, is the arduous process of developing a running habit teaches you more about yourself than you’ll never know.
It’s the process, not the result, that gives you those life-long, earth-shattering changes.
This makes the journey so beyond worth it.
I always say if you wait for motivation to strike, you’ll be waiting a long friggin’ time.
I get so many questions from readers asking, “What do I do if I have no motivation to run?”.
I always reply with the truth: you can’t rely on motivation to get anything of value accomplished.
Because most results worth having are difficult to obtain.
Therefore, you’re not going to feel very motivated to do something that feels uncomfortable or hard.
Running feels very uncomfortable and hard in the beginning.
Therefore, you’re going to have to take action and run, despite the negative emotions telling you not to.
That’s it. It’s simple.
When you really think about it, motivation doesn’t serve you at all! It’s super flaky and won’t show up for you when you need it most.
So stop relying on it!
You’ll need to learn the traits of grit and resilience to get you to follow through with running when it feels difficult.
If you can learn to act despite the discomfort, you’ll produce amazing results in all areas of your life – including running.
This is a massively ignored area in the fitness community.
The reason for this is that almost every fitness plan you’ll find focuses only on the ACTIONS you’ll take.
An example of this is a standard training plan for running.
It’ll give you the workout plan…and that’s it.
It won’t teach you how to get rid of self-doubt, what to do when you feel unmotivated, how to deal with your failures, how forming a habit actually works, etc.
Your brain won’t know how to handle the pressures of running when it comes time to act.
So, you’ll schedule all your upcoming runs and feel motivated. Then when the time comes to take action and run, you’ll feel paralyzed. Which prevents you from forming a running habit.
This happens all the time.
It’s the main reason why people fail to form a running habit long-term, despite the training plans they were given.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that not having running knowledge as a beginner is one of the worst things you can do.
To be honest, I didn’t have any clue as to what the right running shoes were, proper recovery, or the fact that I even needed to warm-up before a run.
This affected my running progress in a myriad of ways including countless blisters, running injuries, and blank stares from onlookers who were wondering why I was attempting to run in Converse Chucks.
Yeah, I’ve come a long way.
So, take the time to educate yourself and become knowledgeable about running.
Topics to consider would be the right running gear, proper running form, running fuel, and racing.
Not having a plan as a runner is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
This is another mistake I made all too often for years.
I would continuously attempt running with no goals on mileage, pace or frequency of runs.
Which would leave me feeling like I had no idea what the hell I was doing.
So, make sure you formulate or invest in a plan that you can stick to.
Also, many choose the wrong plan!
There are bad training plans out there that don’t take beginners into account.
So, keep this in mind and make sure you choose a plan that is tailored to a runner just starting out.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.