5 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Running

Alexandra Heminsley is a journalist, broadcaster, and ghostwriter. She is the books editor for Elle UK and a contributor to the BBC. She lives in Brighton, UK.

girl-running_300If you’re like us, watching all those powerful runners (many of them actually smiling!) mincing through fall leaves and breaking through marathon finish lines can be incredibly inspiring to take up running. Whether you’ve been on a break or are starting for the very first time, these running tips will get you out the door—and to a healthy finish line.

Running Like a Girl

Running Like a Girl

by Alexandra Heminsley

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1) Don’t worry about distance
The important thing is that you’re out there, you’re running. It isn’t important how far you go, how fast you go, or how you look. You can work on those things later if you choose to, but the key is to getting out the door and running. If you can get your shoes on and get moving, you’re a runner. The biggest step has been taken.

2) Be practical
You can overcome so many fears by making some simple steps to avoid those worst-case scenarios. Get a route you know well, and know is safe. Find a short cut just in case you struggle or feel pain. Make sure someone knows you’re going if you’re running alone, or get a friend to be in the area. Don’t wear the same sneakers you last wore to a Jay Z gig. If you’re a woman, get a bra you won’t feel self-conscious in.

3) Don’t let others judge you
You are running, and anyone judging you for that is probably as envious as judgemental. You might sweat. You’ll come to feel proud of that. You might be flushed. You’ll come to cherish finish line photos of you looking that way. You might not be the fastest. You’ll be being “the best you,” though.

4) Remind yourself how you’ll feel afterwards
Your first run—or your first run in a while— might hurt a bit. But you will feel great for the rest of the day. The equation of pain on the road vs. lasting elation is vastly tipped in your favor, so hold on to that thought that as you’re lacing your up your shoes.

5) Remember it’s not just for your legs or lungs
This is about more than a badass body. It’s about knowing for the rest of the day, the month, and your life that you were afraid of something and you didn’t crumble: You stood eye-to-eye with your fear and won. Running can teach you about more than times and distances; it can teach you that what you’re capable of is infinite.

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