Here are some tips on how to push on and keep running when it just seems too hard:
- Start counting – the people or things you encounter on your run – the number of cyclists you’ve passed, the street lights you’ve seen or the slopes you’ve conquered. Counting takes your focus off the fatigue you feel. You can also count to a rhythm that matches your running cadence. “This helps you maintain a tick-tock momentum, like a metronome, to keep you going at a consistent pace,” says Leigh Parker, a Singapore-based competitive long-distance runner. “I usually count from one to 100 in time with my own speed, and repeat the count once I reach 100.”
- Set moving targets – If you’re in a popular jogging spot, your target could be a runner ahead of you. Make it a point to get past her and, once you do, use another runner ahead as your new target. If someone overtakes you, try to keep up and overtake when you can. Says Leigh: “I make it a point to get past anyone who overtakes me. The euphoria of achieving that carries me onwards until my next target.”
- Put on your headphones – Music can distract you from the fatigue or discomfort associated with running, according to a study by Brunel University in the UK. Try upbeat tunes with motivating lyrics, such as Happy by Pharrell Williams and the classic We Are The Champions by Queen. Anne Qi Hui, Singapore’s fastest female marathoner, says that tuning in to running podcasts – where a virtual coach gives you training tips as well as advice on when to pick up the pace or slow down – may also do the trick. Most of these podcasts are available for free online – British newspaper The Guardian’s eight-week Guide to Running podcast series is great for beginners.
When to stop running – Take a break or stop if you notice your heart beating irregularly, feel faint, giddy or nauseated, or suffer from unusual shortness of breath. These are signs and symptoms of an underlying heart disease, which could put you at a higher risk of sudden cardiac death, says Dr. Tan. This is believed to be one of the reasons people in the pink of health suddenly collapse and die during marathons. Dr. Tan suggests: “Go for a health screening before starting a strenuous exercise regime. If you have known medical conditions, get your doctor’s go-ahead first.”
Have a glass of water one to two hours before any run so you won’t feel so fatigued. If you’re running longer distances – say, a marathon – sip at regular intervals, such as every 15 minutes. “Dehydration forces your heart to pump faster to keep your legs going, and this will tire you out,” says sports physician
Dr. Benedict Tan, head and senior consultant at Changi Sports Medicine Centre.
Text by Kelly Ng, Additional Reporting by Ruby Tan, Her World Fit & Fab, Issue #3 2014