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Let your bones, not your brain, set your limits

You know what drives me crazy? When people say “I’m only going to run half a mile and then walk the rest of the way today.”

This isn’t an article bashing others who cannot run long-distances. Only once you’ve won the Olympics or have run this ultra-marathon do you acquire any bragging rights, neither of which I have come even close to achieving. This is a post about the mindset less-active people take to approaching a workout, namely running.

Don’t set strict limits before you’ve even started. Getting out the door and going for a jog can require ungodly willpower. You know, as you exit the door, that within a matter of moments you will be in a state of discomfort and gasping for air. This is especially true when you’re just starting out, which is probably why so many people don’t become runners. As the overweight grade school kid who couldn’t run the timed-mile throughout elementary and junior high school, I’ve been on the other side of the fence, looking scornfully at the masochistic art of running.

Now that I run regularly, however, I realize that the body is often more capable than we give it credit for. A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning, I ran 8 miles for the first time. I was drenched in sweat. After crawling inside dramatically and hydrating, I noticed that I wasn’t nearly as tired as I had expected to be. I felt guiltless, though, because I had only planned on running 6 miles.

The following morning, I decided I wasn’t going to limit myself, and I ended up running 14 miles. Admittedly, part of me knew setting out that I was going to run the 13.1 miles required of a half-marathon. It was an unwritten goal floating in my membranes that I attempted to suppress in light of my “run as far as you can” mindset. That said, this taught me that while running may be challenging and uncomfortable, setting strict limits for yourself is often hindering your ability to get fit.

The next time you go for a run, or to do any form of physical activity, forget about how much you were able to accomplish in the past. Forget about yesterday morning’s run and how you stopped the moment your phone screamed “You’ve reached 2 miles!”. Uncomfortable as it may be to start, you’ll realize how much you’re really capable of by letting go of your mental limitations and letting your body do the talking.

Running only gets easier, and before you know it, it may even be a religious experience for you. Don’t hinder your own success. What can you really do?

Steven Chaffin, Jr. is an American writer and blogger. Aside from creating Runner’s Ravings, he is also an editor for gaming news website PlayStation Universe, and a freelance writer for fitness column SixPackAbs. You can get in touch with Steven @runnersravings on Twitter, or via one of the social network links at the top and bottom of the site.