If you want to take up running but you’re conscious about your weight, you might be facing some serious challenges. Many people who would love to run also feel that they are “too fat” to be runners and that they look foolish. That’s not easy to deal with, so we’ve got some top tips on how to minimize being self-conscious when running to crush your goals.
Our favorite tips include dressing for the activity, running with a buddy, and talking yourself into some positivity about your body.
You might be amazed by how much having the right gear makes a difference to your feelings when you hit the trails. If you aren’t dressed to run, you will feel silly, but if you get the proper gear and dress for the sport, you’ll massively increase your confidence.
Choose light, breathable clothing that will make running comfortable, as this will also help you to feel more at ease with your body and the whole experience. If your clothing isn’t breathable, you’re more likely to feel hot, sticky, and unpleasant, and you will think others perceive you this way (although they probably don’t!).
Get running attire that is comfortable and feels good to you, and you’ll find this makes an enormous difference to how self-conscious you feel when you start running.
This is both good for you and makes you feel better. Poor running form is much more dangerous, because it leaves you vulnerable to injury, and you will probably be aware that you don’t “look” the part when running.
Try to get into a good stride when you’re running. Learn and practice the right posture, and get someone to help you (even if this is hard) or watch yourself jog on the spot in a mirror. Alternatively, ask someone to film you running, so you can look at yourself and see how your form is.
This isn’t easy and it might make you feel more self-conscious at first, but it can help in the long term because it will make you run in an upright, correct posture that is much better for you and your body.
The best part is that the proper running posture is one that promotes confidence. It encourages you to stand tall and fill your space, and just getting into a position can be enough to make you feel more powerful sometimes.
Check out my post on what proper form is and when to switch it up based on the terrain you are running on.
You might feel like you’re running in a spotlight and every passerby is staring at you, but the truth is, they aren’t. People are far too busy paying attention to their lives and struggles day to day to pay attention to a runner they happen to see going down the street.
You probably only register in people’s brains as somebody to nod to or dodge around if your paths happen to collide. A few people might envy your dedication. Otherwise, people will almost never notice you for more than a few passing seconds; they simply have other things to think about and they aren’t interested.
Try an experiment with yourself. Think about how many people you passed on the way to work or the store this week. Can you remember what any of them looked like? Unless someone was wearing a clown suit or fluorescent gear, they are probably not going to be very noticeable.
Of the ones you do remember, how many people do you think you’ll remember in a few days? Do you really believe that you are so noticeable people are going to see you and pay attention?
We feature much more prominently in our own reality than in other people’s – understandably – and you are probably overestimating your importance in the lives of others.
Many people try to fight negativity, but this can be really hard sometimes. You might find that it is actually easier to focus on being positive. Try and come up with some positive mantras to repeat to yourself while you are running.
Create a mantra such as:
Turn these into phrases that you repeat over and over again as you run, and you will crowd out the negativity and replace it with positivity.
Check out a deeper dive into why running is so hard and 35 reasons to help you shake it.
The self-conscious feeling will go away after a while. The harder you work at it and the more you do, the faster the feeling will fade. If you let it, self-consciousness can strip all the joy out of running, but if you keep going again and again and again, you will desensitize yourself to the feelings of discomfort.
It is natural to feel a bit uncertain when you first go running, especially if you are a little overweight. Whenever we do something new, we feel anxious about it, and that’s fine – we don’t know what to expect or we doubt ourselves.
The only way to overcome this doubt is to keep proving that you can do it, and the only way to do that is to get out and run, even when it’s hard.
Perhaps it’s our sense of safety in numbers, but you may find it is much easier to run if you have a friend with you. Find somebody that you feel comfortable with and suggest running together. It can make running a lot more fun and may make it easier for you to forget your awkwardness.
Your friend can also encourage you and make you feel less worried about how you look. While we tend to believe our friends are too kind, remember that we are often too self-critical, so this can balance out well.
So this tip might seem a little bit cheesy, but seriously, if you are still dealing with the uncomfortable feeling of being self-conscious then hiding in your clothes might help you out. If the temperature is a bit cooler then you can easily throw on a hoodie and don the hood. Be sure to draw the strings on your hoodie tight to minimize your face being exposed.
I don’t think you should use this technique all the time, but if it’s your first couple of times out then it might just ease you into being a little bit less self-conscious. Also, sunglasses give you an additional layer between yourself and the outer world. This is what celebrities do to hide who they are in public.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how you look when you are running. If you just stick at it and keep doing it, nobody will notice you, and you’ll probably soon find that your feelings disappear.
Nobody is comfortable with running immediately, even keen athletes, so give yourself some time to adjust and you’ll soon find you’re winning at every goal you have ever set.
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