The 17 Most Common Running Excuses

Don't make this running excuse

Running.

If you’re reading this then must be into it.

Running has a lot to offer. It builds endurance, burns calories, keeps the crazy away—I can go on and on.

In spite of all these benefits, a lot of runners (or those aspiring to be) find it easy to come up with a gazillion reasons/excuses not to run—I’m too old, I’m too tired, I don’t have time, just to name a few.

Sure, sometimes your excuses for a skipping a run are entirely legit (maybe you’re recovering from an injury, for example), but most of the time, running excuses are simply flimsy. When you let these excuses dictate your running routine, you’re holding yourself from reaching your full potential. That’s realllllly bad!

Would you like to learn how to overcome these excuses so you can keep training strong? Then you’re in the right place.

In this article, I’m sharing with you 17 of the most common running excuses as well as the practical steps you need to beat them for good.

Let’s lace up and dig in.

Running Excuse # 1 – I don’t Feel Motivated To Run

“Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.”

― Zig Ziglar

As a runner, you’ll, sooner or later, go through periods here and there when you just don’t feel like going for a run. It’s a lot of maybes. Maybe you’ve just reached a goal. Maybe you feel like you’re spinning in place. Maybe you’re too busy. Maybe.

This is perfectly normal. But if you find your motivation waning, you may want to resist the urge to make a habit out of it. When you lose your running motivation, you lose the energy that drives you forward. That’s bad, really bad.

Overcome it

The best way to improve your running motivation is by setting a public goal. Sharing your goals creates a sense of accountability that can force you to stay committed.

Here’s how to set one. Write down a specific running goal—Running a 5K, shedding 10 pounds, completing a marathon, whatever gets you going—and tell all your family members and friends about it. You can also share it on social media.

Remember to keep your goals realistic—otherwise, you’re setting yourself for failure.

What’s more? You can also run with friends, neighbors, or co-workers. You don’t have to log the miles on your own. Research shows that working out in groups leads to better consistency and more pain tolerance, which is good for performance and overall health.

Running Excuse # 2 – I always Get Side Stitches

Usually striking the left side of the body, the stabbing cramps known as side stitches can stop any runner in their tracks.

So if side stitches are your excuse, I understand. They’re quite painful, but they shouldn’t force you to skip training altogether.

There are many theories as to what causes side stitches.  Most probably, this stabbing pain is the result of an oxygen debt to abdominal muscles.

Regardless of what’s causing them, side stitches are quite common, affecting roughly 25 percent of runners, according to survey.

Overcome it

Have a lightweight pre-run meal that’s low in fat and fiber. A fan of gassy food? You might want to refrain. Experiment with different light pre-run foods and find out what works the best for you.

Also, remember to start your runs with a proper warm-up. Doing so not only prepares your muscles but also aids in optimal breathing. Skipping the warm-up may shed time on the watch, but it can also lead to an irregular, rapid-fire breathing patterns, which increases the risks of the side stitch.

Dealing with a side mid-run? Slow down or stop running and take long, slow deep breaths.

If that doesn’t help, extend both of your arms into the sky, then bend at the waist, leading to the side of the affected area while exhaling and just let your arms dangle. The key is to make space for your diaphragm and chest.

Next, hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds on each side.  Resume running again once the pain subsides. You can also press your hand on the affected area and relieve the pressure while breathing.

Winter is not a running excuse
Breathless girl make short break from running

Running Excuse # 3 – I’m Running Out Of Breath

Getting winded while running? Don’t worry. There’s likely nothing wrong with you. In fact, you should expect to run out of breath when logging the miles, especially if you’re a beginner runner and/or doing too much too soon.

The only exception is if you have an underlying condition that can limit your lungs from functioning properly.

These include:

  • Asthma
  • Emphysema
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Chronic bronchitis.

Overcome it

If you just took up running, expect to run out of breath a few minutes in. It’s a part of the training process. Nothing personal.

One thing you can do is stick to a conversational running pace— about a six on an intensity scale of one to 10— during the first weeks of your running program. If you are sucking wind and can’t say a complete sentence, you’re running too hard.

What’s more?

Practice deep breathing. Most runners are chest breathers, but this shallow method of breathing is inefficient since as it doesn’t deliver enough oxygen into your bloodstream.

To breathe deeply, your abdomen has to rise and fall on every breath. To make sure you’re doing it right, put your palm on your abdomen and see if you feel it moving.

Dealing with lung disease? Consult your physician.

Running Excuse # 4 – I Don’t Have Time

“Time management is a misnomer the challenge is to manage ourselves” – Stephen Covey

Another super common reason for skipping runs is lack of time. School, work, social media, family events, kids, Netflix, you name it, they all take time.

We only have 24 hours a day—what matters is how we choose to spend them. The rest is just detail, as the saying goes.

In other words, it’s really a question of priority. You can always find time for something you deem important.

Overcome it

You can’t have enough time, but you can “create it.”

Start by setting your priorities straight by allocating plenty of time for running. Next, schedule your runs the same way you schedule an important work meeting or a family event.

If running is a priority in your life, then you’re more likely to find time for it. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it is what it is.

What’s more?

Keep this motto in mind: “A short run is better than None.” When you don’t have the time for a full hour run, go for short run—nothing less than 15 minutes—instead of skipping your session altogether.

At least you’ll be burning some calories, and be re-enforcing the habit of running into your daily schedule.

Into challenges? Give this 30-day running challenge a try. You can also try my beginner running plan if you’re a complete newbie.

Running Excuse # 5 – I’m too Tired To Run

After a long day at work, mental fatigue can wreak havoc on your running program (that’s one other reason I prefer running in the morning).

During the evening, dopamine levels—a brain chemical that helps you feel energized—plummet. Your blood sugar also plunges in the late evening, so no wonder that you don’t feel like going for a run.

So is it all doom and gloom? I don’t think so.

Overcome it

Start your day with a run. Not only running in the morning will get you in shape, but also increase your energy levels for the rest of the day, helping you stay fresh and mentally alert.

What’s more? Don’t confuse mental fatigue with physical fatigue.

Short-term mental fatigue has no impact on physical functions, according to a study by Bangor University in Wales.

So it’s your mind—not your body—that calls for rest and “time to kill.”

The truth is, running—and any other form of exercise—can help you increase energy levels and might be the exact thing you need to reboot your system and feel alive again. Don’t forget the role of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins.

running excuse - too tired to run
Tired fitness woman in sports bra on nature trail takes break with hands on knees.

Running Excuse # 6 – I’m Not A Morning Person

When you’re facing a crazy daily schedule, mornings are often the most reliable time to go for a run. It’s easier to log your miles when the rest of the world is still asleep.

That’s not the whole story.

Research shows that people that exercise first thing in the morning tend to stay more consistent with their training program than those who do it later on.

Other benefits of morning exercise include increased metabolism, improved mental focus, and boosted productivity.

Overcome it

Prepare yourself for an early morning run the night before.

Start by going to bed early—early to bed, early to rise. This also helps ensure that you’re getting enough sleep.

Next, turn off the TV, and computer at least two hours before going to sleep. The absence of focused light increases the release of melatonin, which is a hormone that aids sleep.

What’s more?

Get your running gear out, and lay it on the floor where you can easily see it. Doing makes it much easier for you to head out of the door and start running.

Running Excuse # 7 – I’ve Tried Running & I Failed

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

― Winston S. Churchill

Oh really? What a surprise! If running were easy, everyone will be running everywhere.

The reason running works very well for improving fitness and health is because it’s mentally and physically challenging. After all, what doesn’t challenge you won’t change you. It’s that simple.

Even if you managed to keep training for a while, running will feel hard, especially when you’re pushing yourself.

Overcome it

Set realistic goals. That’s all you have to do. Most beginner runners push it too much and end up getting injured, burned out, or both. It’s like when you start to play guitar for the first time but get disappointed because you don’t sound like Jimi Hendrix.

Don’t push yourself into running a full hour every day. Instead, keep your running goals small and achievable, such as running for 20 minutes three times a week for the first month.

Most importantly, remember to pace yourself, then gradually build it up for more intense running.

Here’s how to design your running program.

Running Excuse # 8 – I Always Chafe my Thighs

Chafing is a skin irritation caused by friction—typically skin-on-skin or clothing-on-skin—mostly when the skin rubs against the wobbly fabric. The affected area will be red, raw, and tender. Sometimes turn into blister before you even realize.

This painful skin irritation is every runner’s nightmare.

The bra cup line (women), nipples, and inner thighs are some of the most common areas where chafing occurs. Sweat can only make it worse, especially if you have dry skin.

Left unattended, the friction will ultimately cause enough irritation that will damage your skin, resulting in skin rubbed raw, and in some instances, rashes and painful blisters.

Overcome it

To prevent chafing while running, get rid of the source of the friction—experiment with different clothing in different fibers or different sizes.

Begin by applying a lubricant or body lotion, such as Vaseline or Body Glide to chafe-prone areas. These include the inner thighs, underarms, and the nipples.

Also, avoid running in loose clothes. Instead, choose running clothing made of high performance, sweat-wicking fabric that wicks moisture away from your skin to the outer surface, where it evaporates.

For female runners, a synthetic sports bra with smooth seams or seamless works best.

What’s more?

Steer clear of cotton too, because once it gets wet, it stays wet and gets soggy. If you have seen any runner with bloody nipples, then know for sure that they are wearing a cotton shirt.

For treating bad cases of chafing, apply talcum powder to the troubled area, and cover the chafed spot with a bandage to prevent any further pain. Silicon nipple pad or pasties might help too.

You should also learn how to deal with excessive sweat during a run.

Running Excuse # 9 – I’m Afraid of Hurting My Knees

Getting injured tops the list of running excuses—and runners knee is one of the dreaded conditions. This agonizing overuse injury manifests as intense pain around or behind the kneecap, mainly where the kneecap and thighbone meet.

Almost any physical activity can lead to pain: walking, running, squatting, kneeling, biking, jumping, or even sitting.

Runners’ knee is caused by overuse or sometimes direct trauma to the knee. It can also be the result of weak thigh muscles—mostly muscle imbalances in the lower body—and also problems with the feet, like overpronation and fallen arches.

Overcome it

At the first sign of trouble, cut back on your mileage and/or take some time off from running. The earlier you treat your condition, the better off you’ll be. Knee pain from running can be problematic when ignored.

You can always cross-train by exercising your upper body and avoiding any knee-bending and/or high impact activities that can hinder the healing process.

Also, stretching your hamstrings and calves regularly may help prevent overpronation and protect against runners’ knee.

What’s more? You can also work on increasing strength in the quadriceps to improve patellar tracking and correct other muscle imbalances in the lower body.

Other preventative measures include running in proper shoes, running on softer surfaces, sticking to the 10 percent weekly mileage increase, and developing good running form.

Running Excuse # 10 – I Don’t Want to Sprain my Ankle

A few days ago I sprained my ankle running up the Campuhan Ridge in Ubud, Bali. It wasn’t too bad—I was still able to jog on it with minimum pain but had some slight swelling and bruising after.

An ankle sprain often occurs when the foot lands awkwardly or incorrectly, forcing it to twist or roll, which damages the soft tissue and ligaments. This usually is caused by sudden impact, landing, or twisting of the ankle.

Ankle sprains are quite common, affecting both beginner and professional runners. There are 3 grade of ankle sprains, as long as you’re not in grade 3, you can safely proceed your workout without long haul rest

Overcome It

Following an ankle sprain, your next first few steps will be painful. But once the affected limb loosens up, chances are you’ll be able to get back to your pace with ease.

If your ankle still hurts, stop running on it. Rest the injured ankle, ice it a few times per day, and keep it compressed and elevated to relieve pain and prevent any further damage.

As a rule, take up your training again when you’re pain-free, have a full range of motion in the injured limb especially on the site where you injured (inversion or eversion), and the strength and balance in the affected limb is equal to that of the uninjured ankle.

Running Excuse # 11 – I Get Sidelined by Muscle Cramps

Muscle cramps are super excruciating, involuntary muscle contractions that nearly every runner has suffered from at some point.

The condition is usually caused by overuse—running farther or faster than usual or continuing to push your body to the maximum limit, especially in warm weather.

Often, cramps strike during long-distance runs or at the end of intense interval workout because exhausted muscles are more likely to contract out of control.

Overcome it

The best way to prevent muscle cramps while running is to stay well hydrated and enough warm up.

Drink at least 16 ounces of water before your session. Take a water bottle with you or plan your route along with water stop for runs lasting for more than an hour.

If you’re experiencing a cramp mid-run, stop running and apply firm pressure to the affected muscle for 15 seconds, then gently stretch it. Repeat the procedure until the cramps subside.

Start walking when resolved, then gradually resume running.

Running Excuse # 12 – I’m Afraid of Falling

Sure, running isn’t a contact sport, yet scores of runners manage to fall and get pretty bloodied up.

I do most of my running outside, and frankly, I trip and fall at least three to four times a year. So far I haven’t broken anything. I just typically end up with a bloody knee or wrist. I’m still lucky.

Overcome it

Pay attention. That seems simple enough.

Keep your head up and gaze straight ahead—about 10 to 15 feet in front of you—so you can see what’s coming.

Do not look down at your feet, especially during a trail run. That’s where you’re most likely to come across obstacles such as moss, roots, rocks, logs, and branches.

To stay aware of your surrounding, keep the music volume low, or leave one earbud out. Pass on the music if you’re running at night or on hectic streets

What if everything fails? Then it’s not the end of the world.

First, get up and assess the damage. Check to make sure your knees, ankles, wrists, and elbows are all right. Make sure you are not having active bleeding.

You can leave the wound alone until your home where you can wash it with warm water, soap, and hydrogen peroxide. Use a bit of antibiotics cream to keep it clean. Heavy bleeding requires immediate medical attention.

Running Excuse # 13 – I get Blisters often

Ouch! It’s painful to try to run with a blister so I understand if you’re trying to avoid them.

Most foot blisters are the result of continuous rubbing between the sock, the running shoe, and the skin of the foot, forcing the outer layers of the skin to rub together, break apart, and fill with fluid. Yikes!

Excessive moisture, wrinkled socks, sharp seams, foot abnormalities, and improper running shoes or insoles can all contribute to running blisters.

Overcome it

The best way to deal with blisters is to prevent them. Start by running in properly fitted shoes. That means leaving at least a half-inch space between your longest toes and the end of the toe box.

Also, choose the right socks. These should be running-specific. Avoid cotton socks at all times. For more protection, consider wearing two thin pairs of socks to reduce friction.

You can put Vaseline sports lube or bandages over blister-prone spots before a run—typically bony surfaces such as the toes and the heels. If you want to add silicone padding, you are very welcome.

Dealing with a blister in the middle of a run? Keep going as long as the pain is not too much nor throwing off your stride.

Running Excuse # 14 – I’m going to have to Use The Bathroom

Also known as runners’ trots, the condition covers a host gastrointestinal issues runners experience either during or after a run. These can vary from gassiness and bloating to diarrhea and urge to defecate.

Sure, this condition is quite embarrassing—especially when you have company—but they’re more common than you think. According to surveys, GI issues affect roughly 60 percent of an athlete during or immediately after running.

Runner’s diarrhea is caused by a mix of running (the jostling motion) and restricted GI blood flow (blood is diverted away from the digestive tract to the extremities).

Overcome it

To avoid GI distress while running, try to at least three hours before a run. Avoid caffeine, and artificial sweeteners, spicy, gassy, or any other food that can irritate the GI tract.

Instead go for easy-to-digest foods like bagels, rice, and pasta.

What’s more? Go to the bathroom before a run.

If you have time to wait for a bowel movement before a run, then plan your route along a good stopping spot when you usually have the urge to go. In my experience, that’s typically 20 to 30 minutes in.

Running Excuse # 15 – Too Embarrassed to Run

If you’re feeling too self-conscious to run in public, then know you’re not alone. In fact, this is a common reason why beginners may stop training altogether.

Overcome it

Try to bring the focus on yourself instead of trying to read everyone’s else mind. The fact is, nobody cares—most people are actually self-absorbed and are worried about their own thing.  You might not even be on their radar.

You should also feel proud of trying to take of your body and do something healthy.

I know. Easier said than done.

If you still don’t feel like a runner—whatever that actually means—then simply try to fake it until you make it by dressing up like a runner. Get yourself a pair of proper running shoes, comfortable clothing, and get out there. But don’t let yourself trapped into the shopper section and neglecting the real workout.

Treadmill running is also an option.  Check my couch to 5K treadmill program.

Running Excuse # 16 – I’m Old/Too Fat/Too Big/Not in Shape/Not Athletic

This is one of the most common excuses that people use to justify why they don’t want to start running.

Here’s the truth. If you’re too old/too fat/too big/not in shape/not athletic, then you’re exactly the type of person who needs running.

After all, being a beginner is a fantastic part of starting any sort of exercise routine. It’s time to explore what you can and can’t do. It’s also the time to experience linear growth, meaning for every mile you run, you’ll almost definitely improve.

Overcome it

The key to running comfortably and pain-free is, again, to start slowly and build gradually.

If you’re really out of shape and/or have a lot of weight to lose, consider investing a few weeks in a walking routine first. Then as you get fitter, start adding jogging intervals until you can run comfortably for 30 minutes straight.

Just whatever you do, don’t overdo it. before you know it, you’ll be improving your fitness and won’t be able to justify using this excuse anymore.

What’s more?

Runners come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and body types. Don’t believe it? Go to the nearest public park and check out the runners there.

I’d recommend starting with the walk run method if you want to get fit without getting hurt.

Running Excuse # 17 – The Weather Is not Nice

That’s not a nice thing to say. But I get it.

Running outdoor exposes you to the elements. When it’s too cold, hot, windy, or raining, the last thing you’d want to do is step out of your comfort zone and be under the mercy of the weather.

But it’s not something we can control. Sure, we can always pray for the rain to go away, but If God answered our prayer, rain won’t fall, crops won’t grow, and life on earth ceases to exist.

Again, that’s not nice. At. All.

Overcome it

I love this quote “There’s no such thing as bad weather—just bad clothes.” And it applies really well if you want to keep training in adverse weather.

If you put on the right gear and are ready to face these less-than-perfect weather conditions, you can still head out for a run, and even enjoy it.

For the full guide on hot weather running, check my post here.

All in all, if the weather is really bad, you can always train indoor by hopping on the treadmill.

 

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