I spend about 30-45 minutes a day answering emails to my Run, Selfie, Repeat family. I get asked about my favorite chafe cream, shorts, shoes, protein powder, energy gels, water, how I wake up in the morning to run, how I hydrate, how I find the motivation not to quit, how I train for a marathon...the list goes on and on and on. It's arguably my favorite part of my day because being a new runner sucks (at least it sucked for me) and I love helping make running feel a tiny bit less impossible to you. But after months of answering these emails, it dawned on me...why not share my non-expert advice with all of you!?!? Allow me to introduce my new favorite segment of Run, Selfie, Repeat -- Running Struggles! You Ask And I Give My Non-Expert Advice.
So if you're a new runner or if you're simply curious to pick my brain, write me! Holler at me and it may end up on Run, Selfie, Repeat. Today's topic? Let's talk feeling self conscious when you run.
Elise writes --
"I really want to start running regularly.. but I have this weird fear of running outside... like I feel like everyone who sees me is just judging me. I am that way on the treadmill too. I feel like my mind is really just ruining ANY motivation I ever have to start running!
First and foremost Elsie, feeling self conscious is normal and you're not alone! I don't think I've ever met a runner who didn't feel like a fish out of water when they first started running or working out in general. I felt the exact same way as you do right now. (I still struggle on a treadmill because I'm so loud and I trip every 3 minutes. And I'm like a sweating sprinkler. Being near me is like running in the soak zone. It's gross but it is what it is!) When I used to live with my parents in San Diego, I would walk an extra 5 or 10 minutes if I saw my neighbors out front because I didn't want anyone to see me run (or walk) outside. Most days I'd wait until the sun went down so no one would see me try to run. I struggled with my own personal insecurities because I projected them onto everyone else. It was how I would reinforce the way I felt about myself.
But it was all in my head. I would concoct these self destructive scenarios to make myself feel discouraged and self conscious even though I never had proof that anyone ever judged me. The things I said in my head were 100 times worse than what anyone else may have possibly thought about me. The problem was that I wasn't comfortable with the way I looked. I felt ashamed when I looked in the mirror because I had this crazy idea that I had to look a certain way to feel desirable. It was bull shit and it took running a marathon to learn that. So here's my advice.
1. Jump In.
I like to think of overcoming my fear of being seen outside or at the gym like jumping into a pool. If I feel the water, I'm not going in because it's always too cold. But if I just run and jump in, the internal struggle is over in the blink of an eye. I spend a lot less time going, "AH! COLD! COLD! COLD! COLD! NOPE! TOO COLD!" and I quickly get the initial shock over with so I can move on with my life. When you feel self conscious, put your shoes on and just go. Don't think about it, just go and get it over with.
2. Be Patient.
It's a bitter pill to swallow when you feel self conscious or uncomfortable. It's not fun. But the way you feel about yourself is a muscle and confidence takes time to develop. But you have to put in the effort and be patient. Fake it until you become it. Plaster a smile on your face and continue to move forward. If you run with music, turn it up. Put your head down and focus on putting one foot in front of the other. You are doing a hell of a lot more than most people so you have nothing to be ashamed of.
3. Run For You.
Don't run for anyone but yourself. You have to be the only person you want to impress. Don't do it to lose weight for someone else, it has to be for you. Take it one step at a time and remember to take a few minutes every day to just say three things you love about yourself. Positive affirmations go a long way.
I can't guarantee that people won't look at you and judge you. Unfortunately there are really gross and unfortunate people all over the place. But I can tell you that those people aren't worth losing sleep over. They're the one's we should feel sorry for. Just focus on you. Feel proud that you are running! That's so much more than so many people can say for themselves. Getting out the door is 80% of the battle.
I'm proud of you for trying. Stick with it! Don't give up! Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.