7 Running Excuses You Should Stop Making

This post was recently published on SheKnows.com. You can find the original article here.

We’ve all been there: We know we should get out and go for a run, but we make up an excuse not to. When it comes to excuses, I’ve heard them all. But 99% of the time there is a solution to your excuse. The truth is that if you want something bad enough, you will find a way to get it, and running is no exception. If you want to run bad enough, if you want to train for a marathon or half marathon bad enough, you will find a way and you will make time. You may have to sacrifice a half hour or hour of television time each day, but leading a healthy life and running – whether recreationally for health or to train for a race – is all about balance. Here are the top seven excuses we all make for not running and solutions for each.

1.  I don’t have time.

This is the number one excuse people make for not running or working out. In today’s world, people have a million priorities between work, kids, family, social activities, etc. and finding time to do one more activity can seem impossible.

First, take a look at what your daily schedule looks like and see if there is somewhere you can squeeze in a half hour to run. Do you spend 30 or more minutes watching the news in the morning? Do you watch a sitcom or the news before you go to bed each night? Instead of watching those television shows, record them or watch them online during the weekend when you have more time and use that time to go for a run.

Do you take a lunch break at work every day? Instead of going out to eat, use that time to go for a run, then eat your packed lunch at your desk afterwards. Keep a spare pair of running shoes and some clothes in a drawer at work or in the trunk of your car. The cool thing about running is that you can do it almost anywhere, anytime. No shower at work? No problem. There are several companies, like ShowerPill or Nathan, that make athletic body wipes for this purpose. A quick wipe-down and you will be sweat and odor-free and feeling fresh.

Plan your workouts for the week in advance and put them on your calendar, just like an appointment. Then treat them like you would any other meeting: mandatory. Schedule your workouts around your other activities. For instance, don’t schedule a long run the morning after a late night party. Be flexible, but it’s always good to set an initial time frame for the week.

If you can, run in the morning. Getting your run over with first thing in the morning leaves the rest of the day open and if something unexpected comes up later in the day, you won’t have to choose between that and running. If you’re not a morning person, you can become one. Just a few weeks of regularly waking up early and working out will change your body into believing it is a morning person and it will soon become habit.

2.  It takes away time from my family.

When you are at work all day, it can be hard to take any more time away from your family to go for a run. But remember why you run. It’s not selfish. It is good for you. When you are happy, the people around you are happy too. You will be a better mother/spouse/friend/employee.

You could also find a way to incorporate your family into your run. For instance, they could ride their bikes alongside you, or you could go to a local track or park and the kids can play in the field while you run around the track, or run circles around the park. If your family is involved in your fitness routine, they are more likely to follow your example and have healthy exercise habits throughout their lives as well.

3. I’m too stressed and hungry after a long day at work.

If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, overwhelmed, or run down, running can help. Ten or twenty minutes of exercise can help get your endorphins moving, lower your stress hormones, and help lift your mood. After a particularly stressful day at work, running is the perfect solution to help unwind and de-stress. Plus it’s much healthier than reaching for that glass of wine.

Keep a pair of running shoes and clothes in your car and stop at a park or track on your way home from work. If you go all the way home before running, you are much more likely to get caught up in chores like checking the mail, making dinner, etc. and making more excuses not to run. If you stop somewhere to run before you get home, you have no excuse. Pack a small snack to eat before you run, like an energy bar or banana, to curb your hunger until dinner.

4. It’s dark outside the only times I am able to run.

If you let daylight hours dictate when you run, the only time of year you would be able to run is during the summer. Running in the dark does not have to be scary or intimidating. In fact, I think running in the dark can be very calming and serene, especially early in the morning. There are a few things that can make running in the dark both safer and easier.

First, wear a headlamp. You can buy a running headlamp at any running store or online and it will illuminate your route so that you can see ahead of you. It will also help other people see you.

Second, wear light colors and reflective clothing. Good colors to wear in the dark are white, orange or yellow. It’s also a good idea to invest in reflective gear, such as a vest. Some items such as running shoes and jackets come with reflective pieces on them, but you can never wear too much.

You should also run without music, or at least turn the volume down low so that you can hear cars, cyclists, dogs or people around you. Carry your ID and a cell phone with you, let someone know the route you are taking before you head out, and run with a friend or running group if you can. Finally, run someplace well-populated and well-lit, but try to avoid busy roads with no shoulders or sidewalks. If you are running on a road, make sure you stay on the sidewalk.

5. I don’t have anyone to run with and don’t want to run alone.

If you don’t want to run alone for either safety issues or because you think it’s boring, find a friend to run with you. If you don’t have any close-by running friends, find one!

The best way to find a running buddy or running group is to ask around. A lot of groups, particularly the more casual ones, are made up of friends, friends of friends and acquaintances. Ask your runner friends, neighbors or co-workers if they know of any running groups that would be a good fit for you or if they have any friends that would want to be your running buddy. If this doesn’t yield any results, do an internet search for running groups in your area. There are online forums dedicated to bringing runners together and forming running groups or just finding running buddies. Most local running stores have running groups as well. Visit your local store and find out when the store’s group meets and how far they typically run.

If you run with your local running store’s running group and find someone that you enjoy and runs at the same pace as you, don’t be afraid to ask them if they will run with you at other times during the week.

6. It takes away from my social time.

If running interferes with your social life, why not combine the two? Run with friends and then go out for brunch or happy hour afterwards. Running is the perfect way to catch up with friends, and time goes by much quicker when you are chatting the whole time.

Don’t have any friends that run? You don’t have to sacrifice your social life at the expense of running. It’s okay to show up to happy hour a half hour late in order to squeeze in a quick run. Or if you know you are going out with friends after work, make sure you get your run in earlier that morning. If you have a late night out planned on the weekend, make sure you plan your long run and rest day around it (late night Saturday = long run Saturday morning and rest day Sunday).

7.  I’m just not motivated.

Use a training log to keep track of your runs. After you’ve completed each workout, check it off on your training log and write down any useful information about that day’s run – how did it feel, what were the conditions outside, how long did you go and what was your time, etc. This instant feedback helps you feel accomplished and can help keep you accountable. This also allows you to look back over time and see the progress you have made. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, pull out old training logs and remind yourself of how far you have come since you began. This can help motivate you to keep going and not quit.

Set small goals and reward yourself for meeting those goals. For example, if you complete all of the week’s scheduled workouts, treat yourself to a pedicure or that new color of nail polish that you always wanted. Or for each workout you complete, give yourself $1. Once you have enough saved up, treat yourself to that new outfit or Garmin you’ve been wanting. Stay away from using food as a reward, however. Rewards should be services like a manicure or massage; goods like workout clothes or running gear; or free things like a bubble bath.

Stop focusing on the ‘can’ts’, ‘should nots’, and ‘better nots’, like “I should not eat those fries” and “I better not drink that soda.” Start from the inside by saying affirmations when you start each day like, “I am someone who takes care of my body,” “I am someone who will accomplish my goals.” The difference is that the second set of statements focuses on who you are and what you expect in your life, not just the change you want to make. The affirmations call for action and foster your success. Your attitude will likely decide your success at staying committed.

Do you have another excuse that you use that I didn’t cover? Let me know and I will help you find a solution!

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Non-Sedentary, Non-Exercise Activity & the FitBit

I went to a conference at ASU last week called “Lifestyle as Medicine” which was all about getting away from pills and procedures and looking directly at diet and exercise as preventing or curing diseases, conditions, and how it can help in the aging process. One speaker and presentation that really hit home with me was a guy named Jim Levine. He has done some really incredible work in this field – including the invention of the treadmill desk – and his passion has seeped into my pores.

Let me back up a few steps…Ten years ago when I was in graduate school, I studied adolescent obesity for my thesis and dissertation and ended up with a really important finding that ended up gaining me world-wide press coverage. The finding was this: the amount of exercise that an adolescent got was not a significant preventative factor in overweight or obesity. On the other hand, sedentary activity was a huge predictor of overweight and obesity. So what really matters is the amount of time spent doing non-sedentary activities (excluding exercise) when it comes to gaining weight. We all tend to think in extremes when it comes to activity: you either exercise or you don’t. But what about just walking around, getting up out of your chair to get water, fidgeting, playing with your kids, etc.?

When I went to this conference and listened to Dr. Levine speak, he reinforced every finding of my study: exercise alone does not prevent weight gain. You could run 5 miles in the morning and then sit at a desk for 8 hours straight, drive home, and sit on the couch all night, and still gain weight. OR, you could not exercise at all, but take a 2 minute walk break for every 20 minutes that you sit throughout the day, and not gain any weight. Because what matters the most is the amount of non-sedentary activity that you do throughout the day.

FitBit Flex

FitBit Flex

Okay, so all of this to say that Dr. Levine’s presentation influenced me go out and buy a FitBit. I had been wanting one for a while, but when I mentioned it to my husband a few months ago he said, “but what will you do with the information? It’s not like you are going to go run more or sleep more. You already do those things as much as you should.” And he had a point. What WOULD I do with the information? Well, Dr. Levine gave me my answer: I would use it to help track my non-sedentary, non-exercise activity. I’ve only had it for two days, but let me tell you – it is a huge motivator to get me up out of my office chair and stretch or walk for a minute or two every half hour or hour. And I now make a point to walk around for 5-10 minutes after I eat lunch because doing so puts your blood sugar in the normal range and prevents insulin resistance. See, it’s not just about weight – it’s about health. If we want to turn this obesity epidemic around, we need to start paying attention to our non-sedentary activity. The FitBit (or any other activity-tracking device) can be a huge help!

And let me mention that the sleep tracker on the FitBit is perhaps my favorite part. We all might think that we get plenty of sleep, but do we really? Sure, you’re in bed by 10:00 and the alarm goes off at 6:00 in the morning, but how much of those 8 hours are actually spent in a restful sleep? With the FitBit, I can track how long it actually takes me to fall asleep at night, how long I’m in a deep sleep, and how often I’m in a restless state. The data can make you more aware of your patterns and help you realize that maybe you aren’t getting as much sleep as you should. Especially since sleep is the most important part of recovery when it comes to exercise.

So while the FitBit can be extremely helpful for sedentary people who are trying to be more active, I think there is just as much benefit for already active people to wear one as well. I think we could all be a little more aware of the amount of non-sedentary activity that we get. Now….stop reading this, get up out of your office chair, and move around for 2 minutes. Then in an hour, do it again!

(I was in no way compensated or even asked to write this post. I purchased the FitBit on my own and all opinions are mine.)

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Race Recap: Runner’s Den 5K

Sunday was the Runner’s Den 5K/10K. I was planning on doing the 10K or even the double down (5K and 10K, with a short break in between), but then my foot injury happened. So, needless to say, I scaled back to the 5K, but frankly, I was just happy to be racing at all.

The Runner’s Den race is always one of my favorite races because it’s a no-gimmick, long-standing, old-fashioned road race. There’s typically some fast talent that comes out for it, too. It’s just a good tradition and I always see a ton of familiar faces. They also give a portion of their proceeds to Girls on the Run of Maricopa County, and we always appreciate their support.

When I lined up at the start line, my husband lined up right next to me (he typically hangs back a little) and asked what my pace was going to be. I told him I’d be happy to stay around 8:00 per mile and he said “okay, I’ll stay with you then.” I didn’t take my Garmin because I wanted to just run by feel, and so I did. I ran 7:25s for the first two miles and a 7:29 pace for the last 1.1 miles (my husband did have a Garmin on and he told me my splits after) for a finish time of 23:07. And let me tell you…it felt so good. I was running hard, but not a full out “oh my god I’m going to die” race. I wanted to run hard, but not so hard that I worried about my foot. And I feel like that’s exactly what I did. Considering that I just took 4 weeks off of running completely and this was my first real 3-mile run back, I’m really happy with this race.

My husband, Justin, and I before the start of the race

My husband, Justin, and I before the start of the race

IHOP provided an awesome spread of pancakes and toppings at the race – a great bonus! A huge thanks to Runner’s Den for another great race and for all your support of Girls on the Run!

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Training Update: Feb. 3rd – Feb. 9th

I’m back! Hopefully for a long while this time! It felt so good to start running again this week. I ran for most of the week in the brand new Brooks Transcends and really loved them at first. They were so comfortable to wear around. And then after running in them in a few days, they started to bother me. I was getting strange pains in my heels and knees, so I traded them in for the Brooks Glycerin. So far they are much better – the heel and knee pain immediately went away, so I know it was the shoes. Hopefully the Glycerins work for me, because I hate the process of searching for the “perfect” shoe!

Monday: 5 x (3 min run/1 min walk) for 2 miles total
Tuesday: Hot yoga
Wednesday: 5 x (3 min run/1 min walk) for 2 miles total, 60 min strength training
Thursday: 60 min swim (~3,000 meters), 30 min run/walk ( 3 miles total)
Friday: Hot yoga, 30 min run/walk ( 3 miles total)
Saturday: 35 min run/walk (3.6 miles total)
Sunday: Runner’s Den 5K (23:08)

Total miles: 16.7 miles

Highlight of the week: I’m running again!!! Also, my first race of 2014.

Lowlight of the week: Searching for the right shoe.

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First Race in the Series of 10 Races for 10 Years of Girls on the Run

This coming weekend is the Runner’s Den 5K, which was actually supposed to be my second race of 2014 and I was planning on running the 10K. But we all know that in running, plans change and you have to adapt your schedule to how your body is feeling and healing. I just started running again this week, so I don’t have any big goals for this 5K except to finish without any signs of pain in my foot.

This race is important to me, not just because it’s always a favorite of mine and I love to support my local running store, but because the race also donates a portion of their proceeds to Girls on the Run Serving Maricopa and Pinal Counties. So it’s only appropriate that this race kicks off my 10 races in celebration of 10 years of Girls on the Run.

This video is my absolute favorite representation of Girls on the Run. Please take a minute to watch – I dare you not to leave feeling inspired.

Please consider making a donation to Girls on the Run in celebration of our 10 year anniversary! Every single dollar helps us reach more girls and empower the next generation of young women. To visit my fundraising page, follow this link.

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Training Update: Jan. 27th – Feb. 2nd

Another week of cross-training, but I’m getting closer to being able to run! You’ll even see a short run/walk on my training log.

Monday: Hot yoga
Tuesday: 15 min bike, 60 min strength training
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: 70 min swim (3,400 meters)
Friday: Hot yoga
Saturday: 15 min run/walk, 60 min strength training
Sunday: 60 min swim (~3,000 meters)

Highlight of the week: Getting to run for 10 minutes (2 min run/1 min walk for 15 min total)! The jury is still out, however. I’m either overly sensitive to my foot or it’s still not totally healed. I saw the doctor on Thursday and he said there was no sign that the stress reaction was still there, but then again that was a simple manual assessment. I will try the same 15 min run/walk again tomorrow and will then decide if I need to take another week or two off or slowly get back to it.

Lowlight of the week: No major lowlights this week…just keeping on keeping on and trying to be very patient. I will heal when I heal and there’s not much I can do to speed it up, so I just wait.

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4 Degrees Straighter and 1 Inch Taller

I’ve had scoliosis almost my entire life, but it wasn’t until the past 7 months that I decided to do something about it. After a terrible experience with an orthopedic spine specialist last spring where he told me there was nothing that could be done except wait until my curve got severe enough for surgery, I went looking for answers. I knew that he had to be wrong. There had to be another solution. That’s when my stretch therapist told me about a chiropractor that she had heard about who uses traction to actually correct scoliosis.

I’ve been seeing Dr. Dave at All-Star Chiropractic since June. I go twice per week to get adjusted, do traction, and do exercises to help the spine stay in a more neutral position. The whole process is what he calls “spine remodeling.” Traction, for those not familiar (I certainly wasn’t) is basically using straps and other tools to hold your body in the desired position, or pull it in the opposite direction of what it is currently doing. So for me, I lie on my side on a table with a special foam roll in between my hip and ribs. A strap is then placed over the top of my ribs and tightened so that the foam roll is pushing my spine towards a neutral position (the opposite direction of the way it is curved).

To see how the process is working, we take x-rays every 3 months. I just had another set of x-rays taken and I’m thrilled that this whole process is actually working!! Last June, the curve of my spine was 30 degrees. After 7 months of spine remodeling, the curve now measures 25.8 degrees – a 4.2 degree improvement. No, it’s not a drastic improvement, but considering that scoliosis only gets more severe with age, seeing any signs of reversal is really awesome. Plus as an added bonus, the 4+ degree correction has made me a full 1 inch taller!

This is my latest x-ray – what a 25.8 degree scoliosis curve looks like. Most people don’t know I have scoliosis just by looking at me. I think I’m what you’d call “highly functional” in that I’m not restricted from doing anything. It just seems to always rear it’s ugly head as the root cause of nearly all my running injuries because it causes all kinds of imbalances in my body.

This is what a 25.8 degree curve looks like.

This is what a 25.8 degree curve looks like.

So the moral of my story is this: If you visit a doctor who tells you that there is nothing he/she can do for you (no matter what the ailment), know that he/she is wrong. If you don’t like the answer you get, seek a second opinion. Do research, talk to your friends, and believe in “alternative” options. Take charge of your health and don’t accept any answers that you don’t agree with. There is something out there that will work for you.

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