Top 9 Excuses for Not Running and How to Overcome Them

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Running is a demanding lifestyle habit with its own set of obstacles and challenges that consistently crop up. In life, when we’re met with a pressing situation we can do one of two things; act and achieve our goals or make excuses and makeup reasons reason why we don’t act. These reasons are excuses.

Whether you’re a budding amateur, a seasoned jogger, or an advanced pacer, you’ve probably made – or will make– excuses in your running life. If you have yet to start running, these excuses may sound familiar…

Whatever your situation, learn and understand what the excuses are so you can stop them dead in their tracks. Don’t give life to petty justifications as to why you “just can’t run today”. You owe it to yourself to give you the running life you deserve. The benefits are endless.

What are the excuses?

From personal experience (I’ve made some of these), speaking to fellow runners, and people that “like the idea of running” but haven’t gotten around to it. Here are the top 9 excuses for not running and how you can overcome them.

1. Procrastination- “I’ll do it tomorrow, it’s not urgent right now”

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases, and its toll on success and happiness is heavyWayne Gretzky.

Procrastination means voluntarily postponing something important – like running – you should be doing now, for another time. We know we need to do something that will give us long-term benefit, but it just isn’t convenient right now, so we put it off.

Watching Stranger Things on Netflix even though you have an assignment deadline due at the end of the week, hitting the town with friends when your house is a rubbish tip, buying a brand-new Lamborghini even though you’re saving for a house deposit, are all examples of procrastination.

Procrastinating with the classic "Netflix and chill" is a common excuse for not running.
Procrastinating with the classic “Netflix and chill” is a common excuse for not running.

You know you’re procrastinating when you hear your internal voice of reason saying “you know what you’re doing isn’t going to help in the long run. Stop.” wrong. You’re going to regret this.”

Procrastinators don’t attach importance, urgency or necessity to running. If this attitude spills into other areas of your life, big problems – I’m afraid – are coming your way.

How to overcome procrastination and start running?

Introduce an emotional, powerful reason WHY you MUST run.

Run because you’ll be fit enough to properly play with your kids and enjoy time with your partner, run because you’ll be energetic and sharp enough to make an impact at work, run so you can raise money for charity and help those in desperate need.

It may seem intense, but you’ll only change your behaviour if you change your reason. Have a powerful, emotional reason why you must run. Don’t procrastinate.

2. Having no time- “I’m so busy, I have no time”

"I have no time for running" is a massive excuse for missing out a workout. Learn to manage your time, so you can enjoy running more.
“I have no time for running” is a massive excuse for missing out a workout. Learn to manage your time, so you can enjoy running more.

Yes, you do have time, you’re just not managing it properly. Human beings are a hugely diverse species. We’re different on grounds of race, gender, height, hair and eye colour, religion, location.

One thing we all have in common is the same 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do, we’re all gifted this generous daily time window in which we can fulfil our wildest dreams, aspirations and goals. But as those with excuses insist, 24 hours just isn’t enough.

The same people will often – instead of running, getting their health and wellbeing into shape – spend hours watching TV, socialising endlessly, having a huge lay in because they’ve had a “hard week”. Sure, these things are fine in moderation, but a balance must be achieved. We must become managers of our time.

How to overcome having no time and start running?

Make a schedule. Pencil in running time. Simple.

Working out what NEEDS to be done on a given day (running) then giving it a time block, means you have a plan. Suddenly, running is part of your plan and it has a time and a place in your schedule.

Writing down your daily activities is a powerful exercise too. If you wrote down in your diary “watch 2 series of Friends for the 3rd time, eat a takeaway then nap” you’d suddenly re-evaluate what you spend your time doing.

The difference having a schedule made to my life when I started running was so huge I can’t believe I hadn’t done it before.

Create time for running. Make a schedule and pencil in running. Don’t waste your time.

3. Having the wrong priorities- “Running isn’t the most important thing in my life”

In life, we have a lot of choices to make. Our choices reveal a lot about us, what our priorities are.

When you decide, you will need to analyse each possibility and prioritise the most important option. Choosing one thing means you can’t choose the other. Our decision is guided by what brings the most value to our life.

Having £5,000 and deciding whether to spend it on a new car or travelling around Europe for a few weeks is an example of such a situation. Choosing the car shows you prioritise materialistic things whereas the travelling option shows you prioritise new experiences.

If you like the idea of running, but you consistently choose to watch TV or scroll through social media instead, your priorities aren’t in the right place.

How to solve the wrong priorities?

Get inspired. Learn why running will change your life. Read my blog post on it here.

We often attach importance to things we know will bring the biggest benefit to us. If you’re spending your time watching TV, always on social media, you think these behaviours will be better for you than running will.

Taking a moment to understand why running can increase the quality of your life will make all the difference. Suddenly, your priorities will shift. Running will become a priority.

4. Not having a plan- “I don’t have a plan. I’ll get lost and feel overwhelmed”

People often put off running for not having a proper plan to guide them. The idea of running is nice and appealing, but without an actual plan to follow, it’s likely to remain an idea.

People don’t know how far they should go, how often they should run or how intense their running should be. In fact, not having a set goal or desire of what you want from running (or anything in life) is going to make it very hard to plan for an act.

Imagine going to search for treasure on an uncharted desert island without a map. What do you think going to happen? You’re not going to know where the treasure is, there’ll be no tactics or strategy to follow and you’ll feel overwhelmed. You won’t be able to cope; you don’t know where to start, and you’ll probably get lost.

How to overcome not having a plan to start running?

If you don't have a running plan, get one! You can create one yourself, or use one already made up. There's tonnes out there for you to choose from!
If you don’t have a running plan, get one! You can create one yourself, or use one already made up. There’s tonnes out there for you to choose from!

Create a definite plan for carrying your desire and begin at once, where you’re ready or not, to put this plan into action.” Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

How do you create a plan?

First, work out your “desire”. What do you want? To run a half marathon for the challenge? To lose a specific amount of weight? To improve your fitness so you can run a few miles confidently? To raise X amount of money for a charity? Have a specific, defined goal and write it down in a running diary.

Create the plan with the goal in mind.

Don’t know where to start?
Start slow, with distances and paces you can cope with. For instance, day 1 could be walking 3 miles to get you moving followed by day 2 with a 1.5 mile run at a relaxed, slow pace to ease you in gently.

Write down EXACTLY how you intend to reach your goal. Days you’ll run, distances, intensity.
Don’t let the lack of a plan stop you running and improving your life.

5. Lack of discipline- “I can’t be bothered to run; I don’t feel like it today”

Possibly the biggest thing that separates high and low performers, is discipline. Discipline means you have the willpower and drive to do something important, even when you don’t feel like it.

It’s 6:00 AM, the alarm goes off and you’ve planned for a quality 5K morning run to kick-start your day (highly recommended). Your enthusiasm from the night before has vanished. You feel tired, it’s raining outside, it’s cold and you want to go to bed. Sure, you have good intentions but it’s just too much effort right now.

Maria Sharpova, Richard Branson, Tom Cruise, Lionel Messi, Gordon Ramsay are all huge names we know and respect. They achieved success through a lot of hard work. Do you think they had days where they “just didn’t feel like training” and took it easy? Of course not!

Do you know how much discipline you need to hit tennis balls for 4-hour stretches at a time? Lots. Not everyone will be a grand slam champion, BUT the principle is the same. To acquire the many benefits running brings, be disciplined.

How to solve a lack of discipline?

Get yourself into a routine and stick to it. Routine is vital for a sense of normality and well-being, once we’re in one it’s hard to stray from it. How do we develop a routine?
Change your behaviours, with help from automation, reward yourself then repeat. Before long, a routine will be conditioned, and discipline will be the norm.

Changing behaviour (running in the morning) is usually impossible for some people. The easily reachable alarm is next to their bedside, and running clothes are hidden in a wardrobe somewhere requiring lots of effort to find. These obstacles mean you resist the change in behaviour.

Instead, place your alarm away from your bed hidden under your running gear (automation). It’s easy for you to slip into the clothes and go for it. Afterwards, endorphins and dopamine make you feel positive and you’re likely to repeat this again and again.
Before you know it, you’re disciplined and in a routine.

6. Lack of self-belief- “I don’t think I could cope or achieve my goals. I’m not worth the effort”

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.Henry Ford

Our performance in life is dictated by our mindset. If you don’t think you can become a healthy, vibrant, successful runner then your thoughts will become a reality.

Having a low opinion of yourself and your abilities is not modest, noble or admirable. It will come at a great cost. You often “think” your abilities are limited because of your past.

Did you know that an adult elephant won’t retaliate when tied up by handlers despite being able to carry up to 9000 kilograms of weight? When they were young they tried pulling on the rope but failed due to lack of strength. A belief which sticks in adulthood.

The elephant is conditioned to believe it is not as capable of achieving big things when this is not the case. Humans are like the elephants.

Early on we’re made to believe we can’t achieve above a certain level of excellence.

How to overcome lack of self-belief?

Challenge your limiting thought patterns by going for a run immediately. Even if you do horrendously, do it once. Just once. Prove to yourself, you can do it.

Once you have evidence, a reference you CAN run you will start to see yourself differently and believe in your abilities a little more. One small step at a time.

Challenge your self-defeating thought patterns. Go for a run immediately.

7. Running is too painful- “My body will be sore. I might get injured too.”

Some people get scared running will be painful. They fear injuries and the burn of a hard training session
Some people get scared running will be painful. They fear injuries and the burn of a hard training session

The excessive worrier, the hypochondriac, will rationalise their lack of running – even though they want to run – through fear of pain or injury.

Running is a physical exercise. Your body is being stressed and challenged. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but this pain is vital for growth. Additionally, many believe the best achievements are earned through pain. Not comfort.

How to overcome fear of pain when running

Understand that some pain is healthy for growth in life. Achieve growth by sensibly challenging yourself.

Challenging yourself at a level which sensibly and usefully pushes you out of your comfort zone – but doesn’t overwhelm you – will allow you to grow. The key word is ‘sensible’.

You wouldn’t ride a motorcycle across 5 double-decker buses without ever having driven a motorcycle before, in this scenario you’re likely to crash and seriously injure yourself. Taking small steps like learning to use the gears, techniques for handling, managing a jump, will – initially – push you out of your comfort zone and allow you to grow your skills sensibly.

Start running slowly and calmly so you feel a slight burn, then gradually push yourself as you gain confidence and fitness. Understand that pain in training, induced by sensibly challenging yourself, is essential for gaining the benefits of running.

8. Not having the right tools- “I have no running shoes or clothes. How can I run properly without those?”

Many people try the clothing excuse to rationalize why they haven’t gotten around to running.
They see runners with flashy headbands, watches, compressed tight shirts, belts around their waists with gels and energy bars. Confusing for a non-runner.

The truth is, all you really need to start at a basic level, are running shoes. Running is a high impact sport meaning your feet and legs are constantly absorbing shock from hitting the ground.

Running shoes feature a highly cushioned insole which limits the risk of injury, giving you a bounce in each step.
For your legs and torso, use an old t-shirt and pair of bottoms or gym shorts for now.

How to overcome a lack of tools?

Get online now and buy some running shoes. You can find cheap running shoes on eBay for as little as £12, brand new. Sure, they’re not ASICS, Adidas or Brooks, but they’ll get your feet wet. You can invest in quality shoes – and other running essentials – after a few runs have convinced you running is incredible.

Why buy shoes? Can’t I just borrow them?

As the saying goes, people don’t value what they don’t pay for. They do, however, value what they pay for and try to get their money’s worth.

Think of shovelling food into your mouth at a restaurant. You’re more than full but you’ve paid for the meal. You want to benefit from what you paid for.

Buy some basic running shoes and get a healthy return on your investment.

9. Lack of knowledge- “I don’t know a thing about running. I’ll embarrass or injure myself”

When we don’t know much about a something or a particular topic, we often feel intimidated or worried. the unknown can frighten us into inaction. Not doing anything, because we don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into.

Ever felt out of your depth at the bank when an employee talks to you in financial jargon? Been unable to perform a new task well at your job because you just don’t know what you’re doing?

Feeling lost in a foreign country where you don’t know where you’re going? Not comfortable situations to be in. Non-runners might have a lack of understanding which can cause anxiety.

How to solve a lack of knowledge?

Running is hard-wired into our brains. Very little knowledge is needed to enjoy running; it’s one of the simplest, easily accessible sports in the world.

The Bruce Springsteen song suggests “we were born to run” which is extremely true. Humans have an inbuilt ability to run. Unlike Rugby, Football or Tennis where a unique set of rules is required, the rules with running are typical as follows.

Using your legs, move from point A to point B.

You could develop a specialism in the biology of the body when running, become an expert on running nutrition, become knowledgeable on the many clothing brands, or even delve into the history of running. However, the point remains. Running is highly accessible, and you need virtually no knowledge to run.

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