The Self-Conscious Runner

If you are anything like me, when you first begin running you are going to feel a tad (okay, a little bit than a tad) self-conscious.  There are many people who would like to begin running, but feel too self-conscious, especially running outside with the world watching and give up before they even give it a try.

First and foremost, you need to know: You are not alone!!!  The fear of being seen while running on the road or even a treadmill at the gym has kept a lot of people from starting or continuing a running habit.

You may be worried that you look slow, run silly, are too heavy,  or look too old to other runners or people driving by.   This is not an easy issue to deal with, but you should not be concerned what other people think.  Trust me, as someone who has run with over 30,000 runners over the years, I have seen people of every shape, size, color, age, and anything else you could possibly think of running!!!  As a runner, regardless of your running level, you deserve respect from other runners!  Besides, true runners love seeing other runners out on the roads and trails, regardless of what they look like!  As a runner, we know how much enjoyment we get out of the sport, and we want love seeing other people doing the same thing!  (When I drive by someone running I always say to myself, “Good job, keep going!” knowing that even for the most experienced runner it is not always easy to get out there every day!  Sometimes you just want to sit on the couch and relax, or the kids have too much homework, or the house is too messy, etc.)

I know that forgetting about what others think is not easy.  I am literally, one of the most clumsy people who has ever lived!  My family teases me constantly about how only I can manage to fall over while sitting on a chair!  And it is true!!!  Each and every day I run on the treadmill at the gym I repeat to myself over and over again, “Do not trip, do not trip, do not trip, do not trip!”  How embarrassing would that be?  And while running outside, I pay VERY close attention to every crack, raised edge on the side walk and those damn nuts that fall over the trails during the our fall months, which I swear are going to be the end of me!!!  Luckily **knock on wood** I have yet to trip, stumble or fall, but I am pretty sure it is only a matter of time!

If you are worried about what non-runners think, try not to get too hung up on that.  Just keep reminding yourself of all the great benefits you are getting from running and think about what they are missing out on!  Be proud that you are doing something good for your physical and mental health!

A good tip for new runners is to wear the right clothing!  Wearing clothes you feel comfortable in and fit properly (ladies, our sports bras!) will make you feel more comfortable when running public.  As a female, the last thing I want is my “ladies” looking as though they are about to smack me in the face while running.  If need be, I know plenty of women who have to wear two sports bras in order to get the support they need to feel comfortable running.  (Sorry men!  I have no words of wisdom for you in this department!)

As you continue to run and meet others runners, you will find that a lot of runners tend to feel their best when they have their “happy running ____” on.  The ____ could be anything!  For my Mom it is her favorite pair of running shorts she calls her “Happy Zebra Shorts”.

Mom's "Happy Zebra" Running Shorts

Mom’s “Happy Zebra” Running Shorts

For me, it is my new pair of bright pink running shoes!  I LOVE these shoes and just putting them on makes me so excited to get out there and hit the pavement running!!!!

My "Happy Running Shoes"

My “Happy Running Shoes”

For others it is their shirt, socks, headband, or some other item they love to wear while running.  Finding that “Happy Running” item is something that will help you feel confident about yourself!

It may also be helpful if you are able to find a friend or family member to run along with you.  Not only does this give you a familiar and friendly face to run with, you can also use each other to help stay motivated to run!

Like anything else in life, the fist time is usually the hardest!!  Once you have run in public a few times, you will begin to feel a lot more comfortable and be less concerned about who is watching you!

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