Six Common Beginner Excuses

... and how to beat them

Posted: 1 January 2010
by Amby Burfoot

"I'm out of shape, overweight and I've never run before."

Just like the millions of couch-potatoes-turned-runners before you. "Beginners all say, 'This seems crazy. Can I do it?'" says Bob Glover, co-author of The Runner's Handbook (£9.99, Penguin), who taught his first running course in 1973. "I tell them, 'Yes, anyone can do this. Runners come in all shapes and all ages. You just have to take your time, and stick with the programme.'"

"I'll have to see a doctor first."

Maybe not. The NHS says check-ups are necessary only for people over 45 or who have existing health issues, such as high blood pressure, heart disease or joint problems. Even so, it's a good idea, says Dr Lewis Maharam, medical director of the ING New York City Marathon. "You especially need a check-up if you haven't seen your doctor in a while, and you're just starting to run," says Dr Maharam. "Be sure to discuss your plans. Your GP will pay particular attention to certain things during your check-up, and you might get an extra test if it's warranted."

"It takes too much time!"

We hear you, but consider the pay-offs of just 150 minutes a week of exercise, as recommended by the NHS. With five 30-minute run/walk workouts per week, you can expect a reduced risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, breast cancer, anxiety and depression.

"I've started before but I never stick with it."

Sports psychologist Ethan Gologor, PhD, points out that we're all quitters, in the sense that we have dropped out of some activity at some time. There's nothing wrong with starting again (and again). Author of Psychodynamic Running: The Complete, Definitive Madman's Guide to Distance Running and the Marathon (£10.99, Gazelle Drake Publishing), Gologor says, "If you miss one or two workouts, that's not the end of the world. Runners shouldn't 'must' themselves to failure with thoughts like, 'I must run every day my plan says to.' You can miss several days and still get back into your routine."

"I'll get hurt and have to stop."

True, runners get occasional muscle and joint aches, but these should go away quickly. When coach Jeff Galloway began teaching beginners in 1974, he was worried about some of the participants. "But everyone finished the class," says Galloway, RW contributor and author of Running: Getting Started (£10, Meyer & Meyer). "You don't get injured if you follow the 'no huffing, no puffing' rule," - running at a speed that doesn't make you breathless.

"I can't afford new running shoes."

A pair of light, good-fitting trainers or walking shoes works fine. "You don't want to wear old trainers that don't even fit," says coach Budd Coates, who has been teaching running for 20 years. "But you don't need to buy new shoes. You're not going to be doing high mileage at first."

This article is a preview of our February 2010 issue, available on the newsstand from January 4. Also in this issue: 21 easy ways to burn fat, an easy-to-follow yoga circuit, stacks of marathon training advice and our Races of the Year 2009 chart as voted for by you on 

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Discuss this article

Is that it. Only six excuses. Surely a beginner must have more than six.

What about the I'm going to start running but won't because its raining outside and have a fear of getting wet.

Posted: 31/12/2009 at 00:29

It does say common
Posted: 31/12/2009 at 10:34

I could probably think of 6 now and I have been running for years.  In fact I wonder if the number of excuses you can come up with is in correlation to the number of years running?
Posted: 31/12/2009 at 11:13

my personal favourite (and I never get tired of telling this story) was an otherwise highly intelligent guy in my office who spoke to me just before I was going out for a run and came up with the classic:

"I'm too unfit for anything like that."

I SO had to bite my tongue not to say "Er... so was I... BEFORE I started running!"

Posted: 01/01/2010 at 02:02

I heard a good one from a workmate too:-

him - "I wouldn't run because of the damage it would do to my knees"

me - "why, have you got bad knees?"

him - "no, but don't runners get bad knees?".........

?? what an idiot Almost as bad as the other popular one about how running so often must surely be bad for you and other such chestnuts...

Posted: 01/01/2010 at 21:45

At the end of the day its just will power.  I have been running for years and there are days I would rather do anything than go outside.  I often don't enjoy it when I do go out with that attitude but when I come back I feel sooo much better for it.  Its that that makes me go. 

Its difficult explaning that to people who don't run.  I don't believe anyone who says they have never had a bad day....

Posted: 03/01/2010 at 13:31

My wife refuses to take up running as she says (amongst all the other excuses) that she will get two black eyes from her chesticles.... she just asked me to change that but it's what she said first so there it is!
Posted: 03/01/2010 at 23:34

I think Jodie's point about willpower is very relevant. I've been running a few years now, and still sometimes find it hard to get out there. By varying routes, speeds and terrain (sometimes even the gym treadmill provides a welcome change!) all provide diversions from thinking "I've got to do another run around the same loop in the same time".

And Damon - that's no excuse either! When I started running I was a FF (now an "A", sadly!!) and it still wasn't enough to faze a good Shock Absorber :??)

Posted: 05/01/2010 at 11:41

I found that running with a club, and/or a friend, helped a lot - it's much harder to wimp out if you know other people are expecting you.
Posted: 05/01/2010 at 11:48

Rach E is, sadly, spot on - I've lost two cup sizes in 12 weeks!!

There's a positive feedback system when it comes to getting out on a bad day; once your willpower has got you out the first couple of times you don't want to, in your heart of hearts, you know you'll feel brilliant for the run when you get back.

I kind of enjoy the runs I didn't want to go on more than the ones I did!

Posted: 05/01/2010 at 12:27

i've just started running again after a years 'break'. All of the above excuses couldn't counteract the fact that I was exhausted after 2 days in Disneyland, so i started my first day with a short run around the my aunties house in LA and on boxing day of all days....if i can do it the day after xmas in 80degree heat i can do it anywhere!!


Posted: 05/01/2010 at 20:41

Very true,varaition is the key. But we're from the point,excuses. My favourite being,"I'd only get too good at it. I'm like that with everything I do". Tosser.
Posted: 05/01/2010 at 20:45

No, Xandria, it's not.

I think that if you have more to start with, some of it will go, but I was never big-busted and mine didn't shrink much (one cup size as part of the overall weight loss).

I'm a 'B' cup after 10 years of running.

Posted: 06/01/2010 at 11:01

i started running in august gave up the whole of december because it was "xmas" bet that wasnt on there!!! and now went back to running club last night and wished i had just carried on i actually love it!!

i am the queen of excuses i wish we had our snowfall last night and once i was out i am glad it didnt snow!!

Posted: 06/01/2010 at 11:02

Nope, complete nonsense that you lose your bust. 

I run marathons and ultras and whereas everything else is tiny my bust is much the same.  Still a D cup.  (and they are not implants before you ask)

Posted: 06/01/2010 at 12:06

anybody who has been denied mobility at any stage in their life would give their right arm to get on their feet and charge down the road. if you're a fat lazy f*ck you don't get any sympathy from me. you have one body, one life- get out and use it.
Posted: 06/01/2010 at 17:59

albert... couldnt have said it better myself!!
Posted: 06/01/2010 at 21:12

rock on tri chick!!
Posted: 07/01/2010 at 15:09

I started running a C, and I'm actually now a D, and have lost the fat round my thighs!

But like Wilkie metions, if you have some extra weight to lose then yes you might loose a little from your bust, but you'll lose LOADS everywhere else so they will end up looking bigger! 

Posted: 07/01/2010 at 15:23

How about this as an excuse from a beginner  - me.  Its 2 inches of solid, lumpy ice on all paths and roads within 15 miles except for the M3 motorway.  Running around a park in the dark would be pure stupidity unless you have a death wish and all running clubs evenings start and finish when I  am still at work.  That said,  when it clears up I will be out again and cant wait.

Albert,  I thought running was not an elitist clique of "so much better than thou" people that you can find in other walks of life.  I hope this remains to be the case. 

Posted: 07/01/2010 at 21:37

I stumbled upon this thread, hoping to find an excuse not to go running tonight, but seem to have read all about shrinking breasts. I am tempted to request some before and after photos   but instead I thought the following story from the BBC might be relevant:

Australia's double world 400m hurdles champion Jana Rawlinson has had her breast implants removed to improve her chances of winning 2012 Olympic gold.

Posted: 07/01/2010 at 22:13

Er, elite athlete spends 7 grand on breast implants and then realises they might affect the way she runs? Is she feckin stupid or summink?!
Posted: 07/01/2010 at 22:18

Not stupid. Australian.
Posted: 07/01/2010 at 22:30

re: snow/ice problem.

running in the snow is a good, tough work out. if you can't hit the pavements, i s uggest trying to get to a golf course/ park- few laps of that will finish you off. try getting up a bit earlier in the morning maybe if the park/night thing is scary- although i think in this cold weather there won't be many folk hanging around waiting to mug you... i've got no excuse cos i've got a bleedin' marathon to start preparing for- so anxiuos times with the weather i agree

 ... by the way if u fancy sponsoring me (ho ho ho!):


h- in - the - l 

Posted: 08/01/2010 at 14:38

yep, I just did 2 laps round the local park - lovely run

it's basically like doing Cross-Country - very similar running on scrunchy snow to running on mud/slippery grass

helps if you have a pair of XC spikes or a pair of fell shoes to run in though!

oh, and buy a headtorch if you want to run in the dark

Posted: 08/01/2010 at 15:40

We have a guy (Gul Darr) on the sub 3.15 forum who has been running round the same field in the snow every day at 5am for the last two weeks as it is the only feasible option at the moment due to the weather. Total respect for that.

I have run at 8.30pm every night this week as my daughter has been ill so it's the only time I have been able to, even on Tuesday night in a blizzard!!!

I agree, it's will power. If you really really want to do it then you will get out there and do it!

Posted: 08/01/2010 at 16:38

I now feel like a complete lightweight!!! Reading about all you people running in the dark in the snow etc. I was thinking of doing so....but didn't. I made excuses-the pavements are treacherous(which they are),it's dark AND slippy(which it is),and the gym over the road wants to charge me thirteen pounds(!!) to go on their treadmill(including induction). Come on,someone tell me these are good reasons not to run tonight-ease my guilt.
Posted: 08/01/2010 at 19:31

... if you're not in training for anything specific, there's no point trying to kill yourself on the ice... but if you can drive (!) to a park or something it's worth it, just because it's quite good fun. saw deer out the other day...

 ... or run late with high visibility clothing so u can jump in the road if you have to, less traffic etc... perhaps? managed 10 hilly miles last night. is tough in the snow though. the cold's no problem- as the norwegians joke, " there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!" ho ho ho, those norwegians, they're so crazy.

h - i n -t h e - l

Posted: 08/01/2010 at 19:52

... or you could just chill out tonight, and then maybe add a few extra miles on to your next run.. ? or next week... maybe do a bumper sunday run out in the countryside. no big deal. 

Posted: 08/01/2010 at 20:04

Yep,that's what I was thinking of doing- a longer run on sunday when I'm off.Got the Helsby half next week and I've barely ran this week. Oh well,see how it goes.
Posted: 08/01/2010 at 20:23

When you get to my age (58) you are more concerned about not breaking bones. i train in the gym on a treadmill with Sony Walkman, instead of on the icy roads. 
Posted: 08/01/2010 at 21:38

no excuse even for not having the right shoes:

Posted: 09/01/2010 at 00:16

DazTheSlug wrote (see)

no excuse even for not having the right shoes:

I don't think that's too bad an idea as it goes....

I wouldn't be using it on new shoes though, and of course you'd have to be careful that none of the screws went too far in and affected your foot positioning etc.

Posted: 09/01/2010 at 08:52

My boobs are smaller but so am I. They look about right on my frame and they are a much better shape than they were pre joggling! So I prefer the post-fitness-mad pair!

Hmmm, well I would tend to agree- the range of excuses grows with experience... today it was the ice! To be fair I do not want an injury (hinder marathon training) so sucombed to the treadmill- did 10miles on the thing felt like a right goon at the gym but I DID IT hardest 10miles I have ever done, mentally very difficult! Another one of mine is if I wake up a little late 'oh no I've missed it, I can't possibly fit a run in now...' Whatever, what kind of wimpy excuse is that?

I shall carry on running until I can not anymore- then I shall be glad I did because if I were told I couldn't run I would be inconsoliable (Sp)!

I run because I am obsessed... nothing more or less. I want to know how far I can go, how fast, how bad the weather can be, how muddy... etc!

If I leave the house fighting my brain and the pavement (by that I mean making it harder for myself by putting my self down, scalding myself for not going faster etc) then I shall not enjoy the run too much but if I leave the house and am my own best friend (congratulating myself when I finally make it out the front door etc) then I shall enjoy it. The way I see it is I am going to do the god damn run no matter what so I choose to do it suffering or in relative pleasure.... lol!!

Pain is inevitable, suffering optional. Off track now arent I?

Posted: 09/01/2010 at 20:50

Infact... we need to make excuses and not run every so often because (wait for it) it will make you feel much better when you do finally go- probably better than if you go every time you are scheduled to go. If that makes sense!

Big yourselves up people, who cares, we are all doing it and we are all doing it again.... So enjoy it! Enjoy the burning lungs, and the blisters as much as the glory and endorphine (Is that the thing that is released in to the bloodstream? I think so) buzz.... you may even get the 'runners high' then it is all worth it! You are experiencing things- this is life!

Don't let anything stand in your way (well not for long) cus these excuses really aren't worth listening too, are they? Really?

Posted: 09/01/2010 at 21:05

I have been running for a year now - and cannot wait each day. Agree with the threads on running in the snow - did a great 10K today along the canals (and met several other hardy runners also out pounding the snow lumps flat).

To get started I have used three things that have all helped in no order!

1. A good (but not expensive) fitted pair of trainers from a proper running shop

2. I am a data fiend so I invested in a Garmin GPS watch and log all my running (over a 1000K now!) - this is highly motivating and allows you to easily measure your own performance.

3. Finally,  a great mate of mine (and a very experienced runner of some 30 years) ran with me on many occasions and paced me such that I was completely kn*ckered at the end of every run - but we completed every run! 

Just some suggestions. Everyone responds different - 10 months ago I really couldnt run 750 meters, I now run 45 minute 10K's (and have lost over 15 kilos). If I can do it - anyone can!

 Good Luck 

Posted: 09/01/2010 at 21:34

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