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Overcoming Runner’s Guilt: How to Find Healthy Balance in Running (Without Breaking Your Stride)

Overcoming Runner’s Guilt: How to Find Healthy Balance in Running (Without Breaking Your Stride)

A lot can throw you off your game as a runner or athlete. 


Runner's guilt is an emotional block that can affect most runners. Like writer's block, runner's guilt can set in at any time. It can stop you from reaching the goals you have set out for yourself.


How can runner's guilt affect your performance as a runner?


What does runner's guilt really mean?


Then, maybe most important, how can you overcome runner's guilt once you're stuck in a rut? 


Here's what you should know about how to overcome runner's guilt and find a healthy balance (without breaking your stride).


What is Runner's Guilt?


Runner's guilt is an emotional condition, but one that can have physical impact.


It can be caused by breaks or interruptions in an established running routine. When your body (and mind) is used to a routine and you are – for whatever reason – unable to keep up, runner's guilt can set in.


Runner's guilt can also be caused when performance and expectations don't match up. It can happen when you didn't perform as well as you thought you could have. 


If you've let in the feeling of runner's guilt once, it can be easy to get stuck in a constant loop of feeling that you under-performed.


Just like writer's block, procrastination can make it worse.


The Impact of Runner's Guilt 


Runner's guilt starts in the mind, but can affect the body.


The impact of runner's guilt leads to feeling inadequate, or the inevitable comparison between your progress and how you thought you would perform. Depression and procrastination are common feelings associated with runner's guilt.


It's when runners cave in to these feelings that runner's guilt starts to have a physical impact.


Runner's guilt should never cause you to slow down, or break an established routine further. When runner's guilt stops or interrupts your running practice, your body starts to fall into the same rut as your mind.


If muscles are no longer stretched or exercised as they used to be, the physical impact is very apparent. Injuries are more likely, performance slows down, and what you have is far worse than guilt.


What Really Causes Runner's Guilt


The root emotion of runner's guilt is the same that characterizes stage fright: performance fear.


The term performance fear is misleading: we really fear a lack of performance, or that we can't keep up with ourselves


Runner's guilt is best targeted at the root.


Eliminate the fear of failure, and take it in your stride.


Running Without Runner's Guilt


Balance can help you to learn running without runner's guilt. 


There is almost no sport with an undefeated champion – in anything. The world's best winners lose some of the time.


Champions just don't give up because they lost: they continue and get better.


They find their balance. 


Conclusion: Overcoming Runner's Guilt


Overcoming runner's guilt is not as simple as “getting over it.” 


Runner's guilt can be kicked to the side with balance between exercise and rest, and accepting that there is always balance between wins and losses.

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