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The Key to Sustainable Running

Running Tip of the Week #5

I think a lot of people are way too anal about the way they get their runs in on a daily basis. People have this image of ‘real’ runners being immune to the difficulties of getting out of bed every morning and running. This is far from the truth. In my opinion, you have to balance. Yes, you must do whatever it takes to get your run in on any given day, but do it in the easiest most pleasant way possible.

Here is an honest statistic about my running; the only occasions I have gone on a run this year before 9am were on race days. It would be one thing if this were a conscious decision, but no, probably once or twice a week I would set my alarm to run at 6, 7, or even 8am only to decide when the alarm went off that, “no, I’m not feeling this right now. I’m going back to bed.” It’s as simple as that. I would then shut my eyes and fall back into a deep peaceful harmonious sleep that my body and mind apparently thought was more valuable than running. The key is to not beat yourself up for this decision.

Since I almost always passed on running in the mornings I therefore did A LOT of running after work in the evenings. Often I would be tired from being on my feet all day selling shoes or at my other job running around a physical therapy clinic and the last thing I wanted to do was run right after my workday. But since I chose to sleep in, I had to deal with the consequences and run in the evenings. For some reason, after all was said and done, this was easier for me to do than to run in the mornings. This worked for me.

During other times of my life my running routine would be completely the opposite. The thought of running after 4pm would not even cross my mind because at that point I just felt slow and sluggish and unmotivated.

What you can’t do is slap the snooze button and then also pass on your run during the day or in the evening. You have to know that no matter what you are going to get your run in but that maybe it won’t necessarily be when you originally expected it. It has to become a given that you are going to run, that way, when you give into your desire to not run in the morning, this is not a decision to not run that day, but just a postponement.

I also feel like there are certain negotiable items in relation to the running lifestyle. For me the areas that come to mind are nutrition and strength training. I have been known to take my time to drive to the gym, go into the locker room, get dressed into my workout clothes, walk into the weight room, look around at the weights and people and equipment, and then immediately decide that this was in fact the last place I wanted to be at that time and continue to return to the locker room, get my stuff, and leave. Yes, I do have those thoughts like, “Man Chase, you are such a wuss” or “Dude, so and so would totally not walk out of this weight room” or “if you can’t even get yourself to do workout then you definitely can’t expect to run fast.” In the long run, these types of thoughts get you nowhere.

What I feel like I’ve come to learn is that you need to listen to your mind and your body in order to have a sustainable running lifestyle. Who knows, maybe if I would have forced myself to workout those mornings or nights that I really didn’t want to, I would have burned out and stopped running altogether.

All this being said, if you find yourself routinely deciding to skip workouts altogether, then we have a problem. I’m saying that there is grace and even potentially a benefit for passing on an occasional workout in order to maintain your determination and sanity.

All of this really boils down to the following idea; you must do what works for you. Find a routine that makes running the most enjoyable it can be. If you want to run at midnight, run at midnight. If you want to run 6.7 miles on the treadmill at 6.7mph everyday of the year, don’t listen to people who say you need to diversify your running, just do your thing. Don’t beat yourself up about anything, do your best to run everyday that you planned, and create the ideal personalized routine that allows you to accomplish your goals and enjoy the sport we love.

Check out more Running Tips of the Week!


1 Cali { 05.18.11 at 3:04 pm }

This really hit home for me and I appreciate the honesty and have since shared it with everyone I know in hopes that it does the same for them. The last paragraph will always stay with me, Thank you so much for writing.

2 Chase { 05.18.11 at 3:44 pm }

Hey Cali, thanks for the comment! I’ll keep writing as long as I know there are people out there like you reading my stuff. :)

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