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Feeling self-conscious ‘puts many younger people off running’: 5 ways to find your motivation

Updated: Mar 25

Self-consciousness could be holding people back from their running dreams.

Many of us may want to get into running, but worry about looking silly, or not being as fast as others out pounding the pavement.

According to research by the TCS London Marathon’s charity of the year, younger people are most likely to let worries about performance or appearance deter them.

In fact, nearly 40% of 18-24-year-olds say feeling self-conscious would put them off going for a run, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, which polled more than 2,000 Brits.

With marathons in London and Manchester on the horizon, you may wonder how to conquer your nerves and get on board with the swathes of people who take up running every year.

So, how can you get motivated?

1. Plan by minutes, not distance

“Lots of people get caught up tracking their distances and feel like a run ‘doesn’t count’ if it’s not a certain length,” says Nancy Best, PT and founder of Ladies Who Crunch (

“I recommend creating a playlist of songs you absolutely love and committing to staying moving – either jogging or power walking – for the duration of the tracks.

“Start with a 15-minute playlist and gradually increase the number of songs, week by week. Time flies by when you’re not constantly checking your watch to see if you’ve hit another kilometre.”

2. Don’t compare yourself to others on apps

Apps can be great for tracking progress and bolstering motivation. But in some cases, this may have the opposite affect – especially if you get caught in the comparison trap.

“Scrolling through other people’s split times isn’t helpful – focus your energy on maintaining your new habit,” Best explains.

Self-comparison and self-consciousness can be a real barrier to running, so try and nip it in the bud early doors.

Focus on the amazing benefits that running has to offer, without putting too much emphasis on a certain speed or distance,” says personal trainer and runner, Emma Bord (

“Everyone’s running journey is personal to them, fast or slow, long or short – if you’re running, you are a runner. So, appreciate the achievement and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.”

3. Start at a walking pace

Nervous about just running out of the door and going? You needn’t be.

“I always advise my clients to walk for a minimum of 500 metres before they begin a run,” says Best. “Bolting out of the door at a sprint pace to ‘get going’ is likely to end up with an emergency walk-in in five minutes’ time.

“Give yourself a few minutes to breathe, get your legs moving, and make sure the basics are covered – shoelaces tied, house keys in your pocket – before you begin.”

4. Plan a reward

Even if you do feel awkward, incentivise yourself to get out and run anyway.

“Plan a reward for the end. Whether it’s sinking into a hot bath, or buying a takeaway coffee, mark the occasion! You’re programming your brain to have positive associations with running, which will help you stick at it,” says Best.

5. Don’t worry about all the gear, no idea

Getting a good kit will help keep you motivated, and looking good helps us feel more confident.

“The right kit will make you feel comfortable, but most importantly make sure you have the right trainers for your feet,” says Bord.

“This will make your runs more comfortable, increase your confidence and form, and most importantly reduce the risk of injury. Running shoes are a huge part of the running journey, as these can make or break you as a runner.”


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