Don’t Try So Hard: Trying to Force Your Running Won’t Work…Relax

Don’t force it. This applies not just to running but in other areas of life too. Trying too hard can hold you back, it is the self-imposed weight vest of extra pressure and stress.

track runner

Was stuck for a background inspiration for this one...wasn't liking attempt #1

Some pressure is a good thing; Type A neurotic runners tend to excel because they don’t settle and want to push themselves to reach for higher goals. But as with many gifts they can also be your greatest undoing if taken too far. Getting too wrapped up and focusing on what you AREN’T doing or achieving can lead to overlooking the positive gains you may have made.

You’re in the middle of a workout: it’s not going how you wanted, the splits are off from the start, your legs feel like lead, you keep looking down at your watch praying that it will bring you some good news but the times keep getting slower and slower. You tell yourself to push harder, go faster, to man up and hit the splits…why can’t you hit the bloody splits already?!

You tense up, your jaw is locked with clenched teeth, your shoulders are up to your ears…your stride is forced. You’re trying too hard.

track runner

Try #2 and still wasn't feeling it...

Take a breath, shake out your arms and relax. Unstrap the burden that is the watch, the weight vest your mind has strapped on your back and STOP obsessing on the flipping splits, what you’re NOT able to achieve, wondering WHY you suck so hard, and HOW you’ll never achieve anything if you can’t get your legs to act up and run the way you want.

In times like these, sometimes it’s best to just not know…as in stop timing your splits, run for effort. Times won’t come sometimes, that’s a reality of running and training, you’ll have off days, off races, off runs, off stretches. What you don’t need to add on top of that is the obsession of WHY you’re sucking so much, getting sucked into the negative spiral, the ruminating thoughts, the negatives circling your brain faster than you are on the track.

Running for effort will in the end give you positive gains in your fitness:even though the times aren’t there for whatever reason, your body is still being pushed, the muscles being stressed, and the effort is there. Make sure to take into account if there are other factors: outside conditions, increase in training volume, your easy days aren’t letting you recover, and if, so be proactive and address those issues. But if not, that’s okay too…one workout does not make the runner.

track runner

Try #3, stopped trying to make it over-complicated and stopped trying to force it so much...at least i liked it the best of the bunch.

Running relaxed can surprise you too, sometimes just shifting your mindset can effect the watch and you may end up hitting faster times. Instead of thinking about the negatives, go back to focusing on the basic elements:
* Your breathing
* Your form
* Counting your strides
* Visualize the smooth, relaxed runner you want to be
…the little things, anything but the clock.

Don’t try so hard, don’t force it.
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Tomorrow’s your last chance to enter my ‘The Runner’ water-bottle giveaway.

In case you missed it, you can be one of the first to snag the Arty Runnerchick shirts and join the ‘Get Chicking’ movement! :)
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1) Can you recall a time you kept trying harder and harder but were falling further and further behind?

2) How do you catch yourself from trying too hard and pushing it? How do you find the proper balance, and when you are forcing it how do you try and get back in check?

3) What are some positives you try to take away from negative or bad races/workouts/runs?

4) Are there other areas in life where sometimes you just can’t force it?
I get that a lot in art and writing, you can’t always force yourself out of a creative block.

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16 thoughts on “Don’t Try So Hard: Trying to Force Your Running Won’t Work…Relax

  1. I can so get in the mindset! I can feel really tired and start to feel like this big slacker, and then I realize something. I am human! I have limits! :) I know that when I relax and just do what my body can, I end up doing more! Make sense? Love this Cait!

  2. i related a lot to this post. its amazing to me how much that i am (now) realizing the stress of last year was playing out into my running. i had SO much going on at school…i never realized how much of that stress i carried in my body until now that most of its over and when i run i FINALLY feel light and free. its a good feeling. even the sluggish runs just feel less weighted in a way. i think running was good for me then too because it was a release i needed but i forced it a lot and it took a toll on me. this year im enjoying just running to run. its a nice break from the forced feeling :)

    • i’m glad u could relate and i think it’s incredible how insightful u’ve continued to become reading both ur runs, yourself, and how the two are interconnected. seriously, the whole psychology thing is perfect for u, i kno how much u help so many other people with all of ur sage advice and thoughts. i’m glad that this year u are able to run sans the weight and are more attuned to ur body…keep it up girl. both the runs and the words. :)

  3. Wow! So often, you write a post that contains just what I needed to hear. This came just in time for my 1/2 marathon on Saturday. Thank you!! And, I like the 3rd background the best!

  4. Great post Cait!!!!! I actually over think all these things while running – so backfired! lol I’m like, relax your shoulders…..your mouth, stop grinding your teeth. lol

  5. Cait, I love this post! It took me years to figure out that forcing a workout was wasted effort and that I was more then likely not going to gain anything from it. These days I try to head outdoors pressure free and with 100% flexibility for what the road ahead leads to. Since I’ve stopped being such a neurotic freak, it has been a heck of a lot easier to get in workouts of higher quality.

    Going to post about your shirts today…so excited to share :)

    • u really have been doing awesome with taking the more relaxed day by day/read ur body approach and i’m so proud of u for that. not just because u’re running is doing so well, but because it’s also been much better for ur sanity too! :) keep it up girl and u are THE BEST for helping spread the word on my shirts. u are, after all, the brainspark that got the particular design in motion. ;)

  6. Pingback: Trying to Force Running Wont Work | Smart Running

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