Why Do I Suck At Running?-How To Become A Better Runner?

Have you ever felt discouraged because running seems impossibly hard for you? Do your friends breeze by as you huff and puff behind them? If you’ve signed up for races only to come in last, you may ask yourself, “Why do I suck at running?” 

But don’t give up hope just yet. You can transform from a slow jogger to a strong runner with the proper guidance. In this post, you’ll discover why running is difficult for some people and how to develop speed and endurance. Read on!

Why Do I Suck At Running?

There are some common reasons running can feel so challenging. Many beginners start out going too fast and burn out quickly. Others have poor running form, over-striding and landing heavily on their heels. Some lack running-specific muscle strength and stamina, which makes maintaining pace difficult. 

An unsupportive diet lacking proper nutrition can also hamper performance. Additionally, inadequate recovery between runs and improper training load management leads to fatigue, strain and demotivation. Let’s discuss all the reasons in detail. 

Reason 1: Lack of Proper Training or Strategy

You may be stuck in a stagnant state with no progress in sight. Without proper training or strategy, your running is likely missing key elements that lead to improvement. Here are a few issues: 

Lack of Variety 

It’s easy to get caught up doing the same run every time you lace up. But avoiding variety can make running feel like a chore. Instead, incorporate different types of runs to keep it engaging. 

One day, do fartlek runs that alternate between faster surges and recovery jogs. It builds speed and mimics how you pick up the pace in races. On another day, try interval training with repeats of faster 400m or 800m efforts with rest in between. 

Intervals target your lactate threshold for better endurance. Don’t forget long slow distance runs to increase aerobic capacity. Trail runs, tempo runs, and hill training also provide benefits. Having multiple run types creates a well-rounded program. It also reduces injury risk compared to grinding out the same paces daily. 

No Personalization 

An effective running plan must be personalized for your current fitness and goals. As a beginner, jumping straight into an advanced program leads to burnout. Build gradually instead, starting with shorter distances and slower paces. 

Monitor how you feel during and after runs. If you’re always exhausted, dial it back. Running should energize you. Customize your plan over time as your conditioning improves. Don’t rigidly increase mileage or intensity based on fixed schedules. Listen to your body and adjust accordingly for long-term development. 

No Gradual Build-Up 

Building your running training too quickly risks injury, strain, and lack of adaptation. The 10% rule guides safe progress: increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% at a time. It allows your muscles, bones, and connective tissues to strengthen. 

The same goes for the duration. Extending your regular runs from 30 to 60 minutes overnight places excessive demands on your body. Build progressively based on feel, adding 5-10 minutes per run weekly. 

Integrating rest and cross-training days prevents overuse while still spurring gains. With patience and SMART planning, you’ll be surprised by the improvements. But rushing the process usually backfires. Stick to a gradual build-up aligned with your current ability. 

Reason 2: Bad Biomechanics

If you feel like you suck at running, poor biomechanics could be the culprit. Biomechanics refers to how your body moves, and flaws in your form can significantly hinder performance. Let’s explore some common issues: 

Overpronation and Underpronation 

One of the most frequent biomechanical problems in runners is improper foot motion, known as overpronation and underpronation. Overpronation occurs when your foot rolls too far inward as you land. It causes your foot to flatten excessively, putting strain on your ankles, knees, and hips. 

Underpronation is the opposite. Your foot remains rigidly supinated or rolled outward. It prevents your foot from absorbing shock effectively, transmitting more impact up your legs. Both overpronation and underpronation enhance injury risk and hamper efficiency. 

You may go prone to over or underpronation due to the structure of your feet, such as high or low arches. Genetics play a role, but unsuitable shoes can encourage poor foot motion. Getting a gait analysis can identify if pronation issues are present. 

Footwear Affects Running Biomechanics 

A 2022 Systematic Review stated that the shoes you wear when running can significantly impact your biomechanics and risk of injury. Certain shoe features are designed to work with specific foot types and gaits. Understanding your needs is critical to picking footwear that enhances, rather than hinders, your natural stride. 

Arch height and how your foot rolls from heel to toe as you run determine the kind of support and cushioning optimal for you. Motion control shoes severely reduce pronation, benefitting runners with flat feet. 

Stability models provide firm midsoles and dual-density materials to support moderate overpronators. Cushioned neutral shoes work best for underpronators and supinators by absorbing shock. 

Visiting a specialty running store allows you to get your feet analyzed. Staff can measure your arch type, examine wear patterns on your old shoes, and watch you run. They can equip you with shoe technology and fittings to match your foot biomechanics. So this helps avoid discomfort and inefficient movement. 

Remember, wearing the wrong shoe model for your needs negatively impacts running economy and endurance. More critically, it can quickly lead to shin splints, knee issues, IT band pain, and other repetitive impact injuries.

Reason 3: Running Style Not Suited For Longer Distances

It’s tempting to lace up your shoes and hit the pavement when beginning your running journey. However, developing an inefficient running style can quickly derail your goals of racking up miles. Certain techniques drain your energy, increase your injury risk, and make distance running feel like a chore rather than an accomplishment. 

Inefficient Use of Energy 

An uneconomical running style burns through your energy reserves far too rapidly. So this leaves you sputtering out of fuel and struggling to complete your intended mileage. Flailing limbs, overstriding, and jarring impacts indicate you’re wasting motion. 

Each unnecessary movement forces your muscles to labor excessively. It reduces your running economy, tiring your body more quickly than an efficient technique. You’ll soon find yourself slowly plodding along, taking walking breaks, and abandoning intervals or tempo segments mid-run. 

Increased Risk of Injury 

Improper running style can directly increase your risk of becoming injured. Various techniques overload specific tissues, resulting in painful overuse issues. For example, overstriding lands your foot in front of your knee with each step. This braking motion sends shockwaves through your joints. 

Landing on your heels also slams impact into your bones and tendons. Such repetitive stress piles up mile after mile. Soon, you may deal with shin splints, knee pain, IT band syndrome, and other injuries. 

Reduced Performance 

Your finishing times and ability to keep running rely heavily on how efficiently you run. A style not designed for logging long miles delivers lackluster speed and endurance. Without proper alignment and mechanics, you’ll find yourself working harder to maintain paces. 

You’ll need to slow down or take extended walking intervals to reach the finish. Over time, you’ll observe your speed and endurance stagnating. Even with dedicated training, you won’t see the results your effort deserves. 

Running Becomes a Painful Chore 

An inefficient technique quickly takes the joy out of running. Each step results in discomfort, pain, and difficulty propelling your body forward. Sloppy arm carriage leaves your upper body tense and fatigued. 

Poor posture creates neck, shoulder, and back pain. Excessive impacts generate knee discomfort with each foot strike. You feel the repercussions mounting as the miles tick by. Running becomes a painful chore rather than a rewarding journey. Distance goals feel daunting when your body hurts just a few miles into a run. 

Lack of Motivation 

Without proper form, you’ll lack the motivation to keep running. Your workouts become demoralizing battles rather than satisfying challenges. Pushing through subpar mechanics for mile after mile removes the sense of ease and flow from running. 

You grind out distances without enjoyment or gratification. Rather than celebrating each new milestone, you’ll get frustrated by the discomfort and difficulty. Your motivation to wake up early for those long runs will quickly evaporate. 

How To Become A Faster Runner?

Whether you want to set a new personal record (PR) in your next 5K or speed up your daily jogs, there are concrete steps you can take to transform yourself into a faster runner. Improving your speed and efficiency takes dedication through targeted workouts, proper recovery, and honing better form. 

With knowledgeable training, most runners can unlock noticeable gains. Consistency is critical, so be patient through early sessions as your body adapts. Motivate yourself by tracking quantifiable progress like split times. Here are some tips to optimize your training and reach your speed goals.

Improving Endurance

Improving your endurance as a runner requires dedication and SMART training. Endurance represents the aerobic capacity to sustain jogging or running without prematurely hitting a wall. Developing this vital asset takes time to expand your cardio conditioning properly. 

You can build endurance through cross-training with cycling, swimming, rowing, or other aerobic activities. Activities that elevate your breathing and heart rate will help increase your cardiovascular fitness. Just be sure to build up duration and intensity gradually. 

Increasing your weekly running mileage is also crucial. However, don’t ramp up too quickly to avoid injury. A good rule of thumb is the 10% rule: limit any weekly mileage increase to no more than 10% over the previous week. Also, consider run/walk intervals when adding distance to prevent overexertion. 

Patience and consistency are critical. Tracking quantifiable improvements like pace sustainability will help you stay motivated. Avoid the temptation to increase distance or intensity too rapidly. Listen to your body and take rest days whenever needed. 

• Cross-train with cycling, swimming, rowing, or other cardio workouts 

• Incorporate walk breaks into runs when adding distance 

• Take rest days and avoid overtraining 

• Be patient because endurance takes time to build 

• Track pace and other metrics to stay motivated 

• Increase the duration of runs before the intensity

• Mix up terrains and surfaces like trails or treadmill 

• Stay hydrated and fuel your body before and during runs

Improving Speed

Speed represents your ability to run at a fast pace comfortably and efficiently. Improving your speed directly impacts bettering your PRs and race day performance. Speedwork training is critical to seeing gains. Speedwork overloads your muscles in ways regular runs cannot. 

Interval training alternates between hard running and recovery. Start with shorter intervals like 30/60s or 60/120s and progress cautiously. Tempo runs build strength by holding a comfortably fast pace for 2-5 miles. 

Fartleks mix variable paces and terrain. Incorporate speed sessions 1-2 times per week max. Allow for proper rest and recovery between speed days. Start slowly with lower volume and conservative paces. Build up gradually as your body adapts to the stress. Proper recovery fueling is also crucial. 

Hill training overloads your leg muscles, boosting strength and power. Focus on good form and footing, not just speed. Consider hill repeats walking/jogging down for recovery. Speed requires focused, high-intensity exertion. 

Incorporate Strength Training

Incorporating strength training into your running routine can lead to substantial performance gains. While running itself builds endurance, adding targeted strength work makes you a faster, stronger runner. Strength training boosts muscle power, coordination, balance, and joint stability. 

It combats muscle imbalances that can develop from repetitive running motions. You’ll also improve your running economy and the efficiency with which your body moves down the road. With greater muscle strength, your legs have more force to propel you forward faster. 

Your core and upper body also get a boost to drive proper running form. So this leads to better times without a proportional increase in effort. Follow a progressive strength routine 1-3 times per week for maximal benefit without overtraining. 

Focus on major muscle groups like quads, hamstrings, glutes, hips, core, and upper body. Use bodyweight exercises, resistance bands, free weights, or weight machines. Let me give you some quick tips to streamline the process. 

• Build gradually by starting with lighter weights and lower reps 

• Allow proper rest and recovery between strength sessions 

• Focus on proper form over heavy weights to prevent injury 

• Target common weak spots like the core, hips, glutes, and hamstrings 

• Include plyometric exercises to build explosive power 

• Incorporate unilateral moves like lunges or single-leg deadlifts

Focus On Flexibility

Flexibility is a critical component of an effective running training program. Improving your range of motion and joint mobility has multiple benefits for injury prevention and enhancing your performance. 

Dynamic stretching before your runs, such as leg swings, lunges and high kicks, primes your muscles for the road. It activates your range of motion to run freely and efficiently. Holding static stretches after your run for 30-60 seconds per muscle group aids recovery. 

So this reduces delayed onset muscle soreness while increasing long-term flexibility. Incorporate dedicated flexibility sessions into your training multiple times per week. Activities like yoga, Pilates and dance strengthen the mind-body connection while lengthening muscles and releasing tightness. 

Foam rolling and using massage balls on your calves, IT bands, hips, and back loosens tissues and prevents knots. Here are some tips for making flexibility training a consistent part of your balanced running regimen: 

• Slowly ease into each stretch until you feel light tension; avoid bouncing 

• Focus on your hamstrings, hips, calves and shoulders, which tighten easily 

• Hold static stretches for at least 30 seconds to allow your tissues to lengthen 

• Listen to your body and stop if a stretch causes pain or discomfort 

• Drink plenty of water before and after to stay hydrated 

• Use yoga blocks, straps or other tools to aid your flexibility as needed 

Nutrition Is Key

The food you eat before, during and after your runs provides the essential fuel for your body to perform at its best. Following a balanced, runner-friendly diet ensures you have the energy to log mile after mile, recover quickly, and stay injury-free. 

A 2018 study published on NCBI recommends focusing on eating complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. They provide a steady stream of glucose to power your workouts. We recommend pairing carbs with lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, eggs, beans, and dairy to rebuild damaged muscles.

Another study published by NIH states that healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, and fatty fish aid recovery and control inflammation. Stay hydrated by drinking about half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Consume fluids and electrolytes like sodium and potassium before, during, and after runs over one hour. 

Timed fueling will combat dehydration and keep energy levels steady. Skipping meals or not eating enough can zap your energy for workouts. Allow ample time to digest before running after larger meals. A lighter snack or sports drink 30-60 minutes pre-run provides quick energy. Refuel your body within 30 minutes post-run to replenish glycogen stores.

Mental Training

Any experienced runner knows the mental game is as critical as physical preparation. Building your mental toughness and resilience is crucial in pushing through challenging miles and races. Use visualization techniques to rehearse successful runs. 

Picture yourself powering up hills with determination or sprinting across the finish line with energy to spare. Repeat positive mantras like “I got this!” to drown out limiting thoughts. Set process-oriented goals to stay focused on personal progress rather than outcomes. 

Incorporate mental work into your training consistently. Practice mindfulness on your runs by zoning in on your breathing, cadence and sensations. Maintain a training journal to track your mental state and identify patterns. Seek guidance from a sports psychologist or coach to develop cognitive behavioral strategies.

Final Words

Why do I stink at running? We all start somewhere on our fitness journey. You may struggle with running and building endurance due to improper form, lack of nutrition, or simply not finding enjoyable activities. Be patient and keep experimenting. Focus on minor improvements through SMART goal setting. 

Follow training plans that alternate hard and easy days to prevent injury. Refuel properly with nutrient-dense whole foods. Stay hydrated and get adequate sleep. Cross-train with strength training and yoga for balance. Most of all, choose workouts you find fun and rewarding.

Scroll to Top