Despite the passing years, I still remember the first time I ran outside. It was probably my second year of college around nine years ago. I’m guessing that I might weighed in at around 200 pounds at that time.
I wasn’t overweight by any means, but, as you can tell, I could afford to lose a few pounds.
So I did what most people do. I got myself out there for the very first time, equipped with brand new shoes and running clothes, I looked around. I made sure no one was there to see me. Then I started jogging down a secluded street.
I kept jogging a little further before I realized that I didn’t have it in me to go very far.
That’s when I came up, face to face, with a traffic jam. As I was passing it, I noticed (what I presumed) that the drivers staring at me. Right on the spot, my insecurities kicked in. I felt slow and fat. So I stopped jogging and walked the rest of the rest of the street, hoping I looked like I was intending to go for a walk all along.
That was my last run in a very long time.
Realizing that at the age of 21 I was completely out of shape wasn’t a big deal.
What I dreaded the most was the crippling fear that others would see me trying to run and notice how out of shape I was. This is especially the case since I was running around my neighborhood where lots of people knew me.
My Turning Point
It wasn’t until I enlisted the help of my cousin—an already established runner—that I was able to feel confident enough to run outside. I’d known my cousin for a very long time, and he was as shy—ore more shy—than I ever was, but that did not stop him from pursuing his running goals.
After a few sessions running together, I realized that things are not as bad as I thought. Plus, the advice and training instructions I was getting my cousin were golden.
Along the way, I also picked up a few training strategies that have helped me put my fear of running outdoors to eternal rest. That’s where this post comes in handy.
4 Ways To Get Over Feeling Self Conscious While Running
As a beginner, especially if you’re overweight or really out of shape, you might be worried that you’ll look too fat, silly, too old, too slow (you name it) to other runners or people on the trails, track, or streets.
That said, fear of feeling embarrassed while running outside is no reason to avoid it, especially if it means you’re not working out at all.
Let me tell you, as someone who was painfully timid even to take a few steps outdoor to someone who can run in the middle of a crowd without giving a second thought: It’s well worth the discomfort.
What follows are some of the measures and steps I took that have helped overcome the fear of running outdoor. Apply these strategies, and you’ll be confident in no time.
1. Focus on You
Up till this moment, you’ve likely only viewed your awkward situation from one perspective, which is your perspective.
Here’s the truth. The instant you get a little self-conscious and worry about how others may perceive you, remind yourself of the fact that no one cares! This might seem harsh, but, good lord, it’s true.
Almost everyone you meet is inside their own head, worrying about their own problems, and having the same kinds of insecurities you have. In fact, people are typically more concerned about what others think of them than the other way around.
Once you realize this, you’ll feel much freer and be able to focus on your runs instead of what every other person thinks.
Here’s what you need to do.
Make it a cardinal rule to run for no one but yourself. You’re the only person you want to impress. It has to be for you, and that’s the case whether you’re trying to lose weight, run your first 5K, or simply get fitter.
Of course, I cannot guarantee that some people won’t stare at you and judge you. If you’ve been on this planet for any length of time, then you know that trolls do exist. But, rest assured, these are not worth worrying about. Au contraire, such people are the ones you should feel sorry for.
2. Dress Like A Runner
I know that when I look great, I act it out too. This especially the case when exercising outdoors.
Wearing the right clothing will not only make you feel more comfortable when running in public, but can also improve your performance and training enjoyment. That’s a good thing if you ask me.
When you have the right equipment— well-fitted gear that offers support in the right areas—you’re going to feel more secure and confident. The self-assurance translates into better performance.
Please don’t take this the wrong way. You don’t need to splash out on expensive and fancy workout gear. All you need is the few essential.
Comfortable running shoes. Head to the nearest running specialty store to get your foot type, and running gait analyzed. That’s going to help you find the most suitable pair. For the full guide on proper running shoes, check my post here.
Comfortable clothing. That includes a suitable pair of running shorts or pants, and a sharp-looking running t-shirt or top. Here’s the full guide to proper running clothing.
A sports bra. For female runners, it’s especially important to wear the right sports bra for the activity. This will make you feel comfortable when running in public. The last thing you’d want is for your mammary glands to jiggle all over the place.
3. Pair up With A Running Friend
Sure, running is a solo activity. But if braving the outdoors makes you feel uneasy, you may feel more confident if you go at it with a friend, family member, or coworker. That’s something I learned early. In fact, the simple thought of running alone used to make me feel a little nervous.
Pairing up with a friend, in case you’re wondering, is good for you for many reasons. It keeps your mind distracted and off of any other insecurities you might have. Once you get yourself out there a few times, you’ll start to ignore the people around. You might even forget that they even exist!
Doing so holds you accountable for your action and keeps you motivated to stick to it for the long haul. Plus, companionship makes any endeavor more fun. What’s not to like!
As a rule of thumb, make sure you and your partner have similar running and fitness goals. Otherwise, it’s a mismatch, and that can do more harm than good.
Lose Yourself in Music
Whenever you’re running in a very busy neighborhood or street, and are distracted by the noises around you, put on some music.
Zoning out to your favorite playlist can silence the other noises and give you the push you need to keep going strong. You’ll definitely forget about who’s looking at what.
That’s a good thing if you ask me.
Here’s what you need to do: Come up with a fun and uplifting playlist to listen to while you’re logging in the miles. With your favorite songs blasting through your ears, chances are you’ll keep your groove and heed no attention to the commotion around you.
That said, please be careful. Pay attention to your form and stay safe the entire time. Music can help, but if it completely shuts you out of what’s happening around you, it could be quite dangerous.
If running safety is an issue for you, check these two posts:
4. Seek the Last Traveled Road
During the first few months of my running resolution, I used to wake up early and jog in very secluded so that I could avoid contact with other people whenever I’d to go at it alone.
Fast forward a few weeks, this little strategy helped me build enough confidence when running outdoors.
The same should happen to you, as long as you’re willing to give this a try. Once you’ve become used to running around your neighborhood or in your local park, you’ll start to notice that you aren’t as caught up in your own insecurities as you used to. In fact, as you keep up your routine, you’ll start to feel more confident in not on your running ability, but yourself, too.
Just whatever you do, make sure to run where you feel most comfortable. Pick a location which brings the best in you and outshines the clumsiness0
Here you have it. The above are some of the best strategies you turn to to help you improve your exercise confidence and feel less self-conscious when running outside.
Now it’s your turn. Do you usually feel self-conscious when exercising outdoors? How do you deal with it? Or do you still shy away from any form of outdoor exercise?
Please leave your thoughts and comments in the section below.
Thank you for stopping by.
Keep running strong!