Self consciousness can be a tough one to get over for many women in starting to exercise; it was a real barrier for me.
The combination of how we feel about ourselves and the concern about how others may see us create some powerful effects – like not getting out there and doing it. Whatever ‘it’ is.
I’ve found a few helpful strategies to feel less self conscious when exercising, although now I have moved from super-self-conscious to really-don’t-care, and hope shortly to arrive at don’t-give-a-flying-****! 😂
I started by staying off road, that way no drivers I knew would recognise me and I wouldn’t draw unwanted attention.
You could go running with a friend or in a group to build confidence and feel less exposed.
Wearing sunglasses and full length/ capri leggings, with a long, loose, sleeveless running top that reaches down to cover my backside with a band at the hem to stop it riding up was helpful too (LA Gear and Mountain Warehouse have both been known to produce such a top).
How far and how fast?
There are apps you can run from a phone to give information, but I found that my phone has some GPS quirks and makes a number of strange assumptions at times!
I wanted to know exactly where I’d been, plan where to go, and have an idea of progress and of my heart rate and possibly even pace. I found that the addition of a fitness watch with inbuilt GPS and associated apps made a great difference to my motivation. Using a watch lets you keep a record of what you’re doing, and an at-a-glance on totals, patterns etc depending on the features of your watch and app.
It also made a difference to me getting out onto footpaths and trails I never knew existed, as I can plan a route beforehand to work out distance and how much up it involves!
Another barrier particularly for women getting out there and enjoying the scenery.
Being aware of who is around is important, and for that reason I tend not to use headphones while running, particularly on trails and paths.
Carrying a charged phone and letting someone know where you’re going is also a sensible precaution. I use a money belt to keep my phone, some tissue and a glucose tablet in. That way it doesn’t bounce around (I find putting the phone on my arm interferes with balance), so the phone stays out of the way. The phone is handy when I get lost as well.
I don’t mind running in public now, that self consciousness has worn off a bit and I can concentrate on getting each foot on the ground in turn. I’ve found that other people don’t seem that interested, which is ideal!
Being out there, whether on city streets, country lanes or on trails, certainly beats the mirror and the gym TVs……did I mention that you create your own cooling breeze as you run?