Runners are Cheaters

Come on admit it. Runners are cheaters. Step away from the auto-excuse button and just see it for what it is.

I’m not talking about performance enhancing drugs or blood doping. I’m talking about runners and their behaviors. What behaviors? The ones that get us all in trouble though we hate to admit it.

We shorten, eliminate or simply do not do thorough warm-ups and think that it won’t matter. Running a 10-20 minutes is a waste of time… let’ just get to the workout! That’s all that counts. Right?

We cut short or do not do range-of-motion drills. I mean come on, those drills are silly and they aren’t running so they can’t really make a difference. Right?

We think that the exercises that our physical therapist assigned to us are meant only for the PT days. We know that once or twice a week is MORE than enough to make us healthy even though it was 6-7 days a week of pounding our bodies to get us injured. Right?

We think we can get faster by just going for our daily run. I mean, who needs to run faster to run fast in races. That might be uncomfortable. Right?

We think that we can just become mentally tough on race day. I mean come on, why waste time on those everyday runs to bog the mind down with focusing on things that might help us on race day… just enjoy the run. Right?

We run 45 minute long runs instead of 60 minutes; or an hour thirty instead of two hours. What does it matter – it’s only a few minutes so can’t really matter. Right?

Goal pace runs are good enough to be let’s say 15 seconds slow. And besides I use a GPS. Even if they aren’t really accurate, what’s that 5 seconds per mile anyway? I can pick it up that little bit on race day. Right?

I know I’m supposed to have an easy day but if I push it today I’ll get in even better shape. What do 30 seconds per mile matter. Right?

I wasn’t able to do yesterday’s workout so I’ll just incorporate it into today’s run. Right?

If I really want to get in shape, I just need more miles. More is better. As long as I do that I will run faster and better. Right?

I know it’s a rest day but I feel good so I don’t need a day off. I’ll just put in a few extra miles and get in even better shape. Right?

If I come back a few days earlier than advised or sneak in a workout when I shouldn’t I’ll just be getting a head start on my come back. Right?

I’m not running so it really doesn’t matter if I eat a few extra calories, don’t do core exercises. They will all take care of themselves when I return to running. Right?

If I don’t quite do all the exercises or reps when the coach isn’t watching.. it doesn’t really matter. Right?

I’m trying to rehab but not running so it really doesn’t matter that I do that stupid exercise. I need to just wait until I don’t have pain and just start running again… I’ll be ok. Right?

We cheat.

We like to rationalize it. We like to make excuses for it. But, we cheat. Even the most dedicated runner cheats. I see this almost daily. True – there are those just wanting short cuts to success or healthy running. But, there are those who think they need to run and run harder each day to get better. This is cheating. Why?

Because you are cheating yourself out of proper conditioning.

You are cheating yourself out of strengthening.

You are cheating yourself out of improving.

You are cheating yourself out of returning from injuries to running as fast as possible.

You are cheating yourself out of truly training to put everything on the line on race day.

So, I want you all to look at what you are doing. I sure am. Stop cheating. Stop cheating yourself. Only when you do that will you be the best you can be as an athlete.

“Champions are made when no one is looking.”


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
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6 Responses to Runners are Cheaters

  1. Christina says:

    Just telling it like it is. ouch.

  2. Dean Hebert says:

    Oh let me tell you… I am guilty. Double ouch.

  3. Rob Nichols says:

    My name is Rob and I am a cheater.

    I used to deny that I made myself feel better by adding more long run miles to my training plan rather than pushing the speed and intensity of my quality workouts.

    Long run miles are easier and less painful for me that the quality stuff, so I convinced myself that more long miles = better training = better performance.

    I finally confronted myself (no formal intervention was needed) and have changed my behavior …. Guess what? My speed and performance is improving.

    It’s one step at a time.

  4. Twinkx11 says:

    My name is Twinkx11 and I’m a cheater too. I needed this post.

  5. Matthew McKenzie says:

    Some of this “cheating,” as you point out, is born of impatience. Here’s how it manifests with me:
    – I tell myself that I’m going to do a 10 mile long run. When I’m on Mile 9, I surprise myself by adding four more miles.
    – Ditto on a five-mile fast run. I tack on an extra mile just because I’m in a hurry to get results.
    – Ditto again when I plan to do 8 hill sprints and end up doing 10.

    Sure, it’s not “lazy” cheating. But it’s still trying to short-circuit a process that takes time and patience. And now I’m nursing a sore Achilles tendon because I thought I was in such good shape that I could pull off two hill-sprint workouts in one week. Silly me.

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