Runners World Articles: Archives
At one time or another, everyone gets pressured about their running.
Family members donít understand those 3-hour marathon training runs.
They want you home with them. On the other hand, training partners
want you to try the latest, gut-wrenching workout-the kind that
makes you hobble around for days. Other training partners plead
with you to slow down, just when youíre feeling good.
But not all pressure is bad. Sometimes pressure can motivate you
to run your best. Over the years, Iíve experienced all of these
pressures. Here are my tricks for minimizing negative peer pressure
and maximizing the positive.
Remind your family why you run. We all need personal
time to regroup, organize our day and renew our energy stores. Most
runners find that going for an easy run for 30 to 40 minutes will
get the mind and body geared up to meet the dayís challenges or
to erase its stress. Remind your spouse and kids how much more enjoyable
you are when you run regularly.
Remind your boss why you run. Tell your boss that
running boosts energy levels and productivity in the workplace.
One runner I know told me her boss was dubious about her midday
run—until he monitored her productivity for several weeks and concluded
that she worked best during the hours following her run. He became
one of her most enthusiastic running supporters.
Listen to feedback. Sometimes you need to listen
to those cautions from your boss or family to cut back on running
time. You donít want to turn into a mileage junkie whoís neglecting
other things in life. If, for example, your spouse or boss complains
about the amount of time you spend pounding the pavement, ask some
trusted running friends if they think youíre overdoing it. If they
think you are, you probably are.
Donít limit yourself. Perhaps you started out
on equal ground with a running partner, but youíve advanced at different
rates. Now your partner is slowing you down. Since you started out
together, youíd feel guilty running alone or with someone else.
So you keep running too slow, which hurts your progress.
You can alleviate this problem without feeling disloyal. Instead
of ditching your running partner, do a speed session once a week
by yourself or with a faster companion.
Do speed with Speedy. Sometimes keeping up with
a speedy partner means pushing beyond your comfort level. A faster
pace can make you faster. Running fast all the time, however, can
lead to injury or burnout. So strike a compromise. Try to hang with
Speedy once a week. On other days, use the talk test. You should
be able to talk during the entire run without considerable huffing
Change the focus. Sometimes runners of equal ability
push each other too hard purely for competitive reasons. Instead
of competing to see who can finish the course first or who can stay
in motion the longest, challenge each other to find the most scenic
route or come up with the best postrun snack. That way you can satisfy
your competitive instincts while maintaining a conversational pace.
Tell your brain to shut up. The worst kind of peer pressure often
comes from within. We place unrealistic time and distance expectations
on ourselves-and get upset when we donít reach them. Youíll know
youíre pushing yourself too hard if running becomes a chore. When
this happens, consider yourself grounded. Rule 1: Youíre not allowed
to wear your watch or heart-rate monitor for one week. Rule 2: For
the next two weeks, run just three days a week and maintain a slower-than-usual
pace on every run. (Go with that slower running friend to ensure
you run easy.)
Learn to laugh. I ask members of my training groups
to bring three things to each run: a joke, a juicy story and a controversial
issue. As each person talks, the good humor pulls everyone along,
and the pressures recede.
World, August 1998, p. 36
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