15 Running Excuses and How to Beat Them

Sometimes we have the best intentions to run, but something gets in the way: Our busy schedules, the weather, or even that we just we can't muster the motivation to get out there. Here's how to talk yourself back into your running shoes when you have plenty of excuses to not run.


No Time to Run

Woman at work
Brand New Images

Lack of time is one of the most popular excuses for skipping runs. Work, commuting, family obligations, maintaining a home, even just getting enough sleep: They all take time.

What to Do

When you block out time on your calendar for a run, it almost always happens. Just like you schedule a meeting for work or a doctor's appointment, schedule your runs. Prepare for them by changing into your running clothes beforehand and making sure you have everything you need.

Analyze your schedule and figure out what you're doing that's not contributing to a good quality of life. Look for things that you can cut out without regret. For example, are you spending time at night surfing the Web, social media, or TV? Use that time to run (you can even multitask by catching your favorite shows while you're on the treadmill) or go to bed earlier and run in the morning. You may be surprised at how gaps in time for running appear once you start weeding out the time-wasters or undesirable to-dos in your life.


Too Tired to Run

Man and Woman walking


When you're feeling sluggish, it's hard to get motivated to get up off the couch and out the door. But going for a run will energize you and make you feel better.

What to Do

You may be tired because you have low blood sugar, so eat a snack or light meal at least an hour before running. If you find yourself feeling really tired as you start your run, start off by walking and then pick it up slowly. Commit to a short run (just 10 or 15 minutes). You will likely find that once you've done that much, you feel good enough to continue. Try to remember this next time.

Extreme tiredness with a normal sleep schedule may be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, such as low iron, so talk to your doctor if you find yourself frequently feeling tired even though you're sleeping well at night.


Too Sore to Run

This one is tricky, because running with an injury could make it worse. But it depends on where the injury is and how severe it is. Sometimes you can provide additional support but still keep running. If your breasts are sore, for example, a good sports bra should help. For sore feet, the right pair of shoes is often. but not always, the answer. For muscle soreness, say as the result of an especially strenuous run or workout, movement will help, so try to walk or stretch. Sore joints? Be cautious.

What to Do

If you have knee pain, in many cases you will need to take some time off from running. You can treat some injuries yourself, but often you will need to see a doctor or physical therapist. If you have hip pain, you may also need to avoid running until you are treated.


Bad Weather

Woman running on snow
Photo by Jordan Siemens

Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere with a perfect climate, you will face bad-weather days that can make running harder: Too cold, too hot, too wet, too icy.

What to Do

Remember the saying: "There's no such thing as bad weather—just bad clothes." If you're dressed properly and prepared to deal with less-than-ideal running weather, you can still go for a run, and even enjoy it. But do take precautions for running in the coldheat, and rain.


Too Unmotivated to Run

Although we'd like to say that our busy schedule or lack of energy is our excuse for not running, sometimes the culprit is just not feeling like doing anything. Don't be scared to reach out to your friends and family members who also run and ask them for help. Chances are they've also struggled with bouts of lack of motivation. If your paces and schedules match up, make plans to run together so you can push each other to your potential.

What to Do

Even if your friends or family members don't run, you can still tell them about your running plans. Knowing that someone may be asking you, "How was your run?" can prompt you to get up off the couch.

Another trick to beat the "running blahs" is to redefine your run. Instead of thinking, "Ugh, I have to run today," turn that around and say, "I'm so lucky that I get to take a break from my crazy work and family life and go for a run today."


Bored with Running

Friends running trails together on winter morning
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

It's easy to get stuck in a running rut. We get comfortable running the same routes or decide it's easier to just jump on the treadmill.

What to Do

Shake up your running routine by mapping out some new routes using tools such as MapMyRun. Give trail running a try. Run with a local running group or convince a friend to join you on a run. Or, sign up for some local races—this will force you to run someplace different and will help get you motivated.


Afraid of Injury

doctor and injured runner
Henglein and Steets/Getty

Yes, running injuries do happen, so this is definitely a valid concern. But most physical activities carry some risk of injury, and everyone still needs to make exercise a part of their life.

What to Do

There are many preventive steps that runners can take to reduce their risk of injury. Getting the right running shoes for your feet and your gait is important. Regular strength-training is another excellent way to protect yourself against common running injuries.


Not Motivated to Run

Group running
Christopher Futcher

All runners go through some periods when they're lacking motivation. Maybe you feel like you aren't making much progress. Or you're coming off an injury and feeling tentative. Or you've just met a big goal, and haven't settled on a new one yet.

What to Do

One way to get inspired is to find a running group. When you know other people are counting on you to be at a workout, you're more likely to show up. Tthe social interaction and competition that comes with group training also help boost your motivation.

You may also want to consider signing up for a local road race. Having a race on your calendar is great motivation to stick to your running schedule.

Try planning rewards for your running progress, too. It helps to have small rewards, such as an iced coffee after a long run, and big ones, like a new running outfit after a race, to keep you going.


Too Busy With Kids

moms with strollers stretching


It can be very tough to fit in a run when you're busy caring for your family. But it's important for you—and your kids—to do something you enjoy that makes you feel good. Remember that you're a role model for healthy behaviors. Make running a priority in your life and remember the importance of self-care and staying healthy.

What to Do

Schedule your runs and get your spouse on board to help with child-care responsibilities. And get creative and take advantage of opportunities to run. For example, if you're watching your kid's soccer game, run some laps around the field before or even during the game. Seek out fitness classes or running groups that are stroller-friendly so you can bring your little one along during your workout. Invest in a treadmill so you can fit in runs early in the morning, before kids wake, or in the evenings after they go to bed.


Too Crampy to Run

Having your period (or PMS) can put a literal cramp in your running style. Or maybe you have other symptoms, like sore breasts, fatigue, or bloating.

What to Do

Try to push through and lace up your shoes. Remember that 12 weeks out of the year is a lot of time to miss out on all the benefits of running. Some exercise may very well relieve your symptoms. Be sure you have a supportive sports bra, drink plenty of water, and consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever for cramps.


Too Self-Conscious to Run

Older Couple Running

Feeling embarrassed about running in public is a common reason why people don't start or continue running. Try not to worry about what others think! You should be proud of yourself for doing something so healthy. Runners actually love seeing others out on the roads or trails. They all started as new runners at some point, so they can relate to these struggles. Any non-runner who criticizes someone for a healthy habit like running probably feels bad that they aren't exercising.

What to Do
Wearing the right clothes for running may make you feel more confident and comfortable when running in public. You can also try running with a buddy or running group.


Dealing with a Blister

Ouch. It's not fun to try to run with a painful blister on your foot, so the first step is to try to prevent them from happening. But you can also usually still get a run in even if you have a blister.

What to Do

Cover the blister with a bandage so it won't rub against your shoe and sock. If you have moleskin, that may work even better. If the blister is very painful or about to burst, you can carefully drain it with a sterile needle. Treat with antiseptic cream and cover with a bandage or moleskin. Be sure to check the blister area for signs of infection as it is healing.


Afraid to Run Alone

If you feel unsafe running alone, that's a legitimate concern and it shouldn't be brushed away. Trust your instincts. But you can also take steps to protect yourself.

What to Do

The obvious answer is to find a running buddy or group to join up with, since there's safety and security in numbers. But if that's not working, or for days when you want or need to run and don't have any companions, follow these tips for running safely outside. Another option: Join a gym with treadmills or an indoor track.


No Running Partner

Say you do have a running buddy that you meet with regularly. If that buddy bails, especially at the last minute, does that mean you are off the hook too? Nope. Don't let a cancellation derail your plans.

What to Do

Run anyway. You already have the time blocked out on your schedule, so don't waste it. If you don't feel safe running outside alone, swap in a treadmill workout. Or do some strength training, at home or at the gym. You'll still get the benefit of physical activity.


Too Burned Out to Run

If the thought of running just doesn't spark joy like it used to, you may be experiencing burnout. Yes, you could take a break from running and see if you miss it. But don't spend that break on the couch. Try a different workout instead. Cross-training is always valuable.

What to Do

You can also try a mental reset. We've all experienced a period when something—illness, injury, or pregnancy—kept us from running, and we longed for the day when we'd be cleared to run again. Remember how you told yourself, "I'll never take running for granted again!"? Remind yourself how you felt during that period and what a gift it is to be able to run.

Another option: Try a running challenge, whether it's a run streak, a new race, or adding intervals to your regular route. You might just find your mojo again.

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.