Sunday, October 6, 2013

But I Just Hate to Run

...said so many people to me. All the time.

Or, "I'm just not good at running." Or, "I just don't think it's ever something I could do." Or, "You are crazy."

You may not believe me, but I get it. Even as I revel in writing about my weekly long runs and my fuel belts and my 6am Saturday wake-up calls and my muscle milk, I get it. I really do.

He gets it too.

So today I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I'll preface by stating emphatically for the record that I am not a coach, not a physical therapist, and not qualified really in any way to say anything. On the flip side, I have a laptop and time to kill, so let's get started with the life advice.

My secret is that I think some of you (not all) do not hate to run. You hate that it's hard to get started and you hate that when you've tried it didn't go well. And you're absolutely, positively right.

Running is not, not, all sunshine and rainbows every day. I very often struggle through these workouts just counting the minutes until they're over. And these long runs? Although some go better than others, they truly never get easier.

So why do I do it? I run for the structure it adds to my life. For the feeling of setting -- and then achieving -- goals. For the people I meet along the way and friendships that get build, forged and continued along the way.

For the amazing views
And peaceful moments

:::Sigh::: How sweet.

But it's also crap.

Sure, that fluffy stuff is easy for me to say! I run marathons. Like an idiot.

All of the focus on the wonderful sights and sounds and friends and calm is freakin' fantastic... if only you weren't worried about your muscles revolting and your lungs collapsing! It's just ducky to run then...when you're already good at it. 

What I do now? That's a piece of cake compared to those initial months of getting started. That's the real challenge.

So let's talk about the real reason to accept the challenge. And it's certainly not so you can see the view from the Queensboro Bridge on foot.

Although that can be lovely too!

The best reason to run is -- that by far and away -- it is the single best way to get in and stay in shape. It's the only --and I mean only -- weight-loss and maintenance program that has ever worked for me. Those other reasons? They may come with time, or they may not. But the more on-the-surface weight-loss reason is why I, and countless others, started this little hobby and continue it.

That's the secret.

I started running about 10 years ago in college, after a long illustrious career of NEVER RUNNING EVER. And the reason was far from noble. I started because the ellipticals were always full at my pitiful college gym, and the treadmills had less of a wait. I continued jogging once I moved to New York because I didn't have enough money for a gym membership. Running has another crucial side-benefit: It's free.

And for about 4 years I never went a step further than 3 miles. It was another 1-2 years I could run occasionally up to 5 miles.

And this brings us to that secret I wanted to let you in on: The absolute hardest part for me was never running a marathon. It was getting started at all.

It was incredibly, incredibly hard to get from 0-3 miles for me, and it will be for you too. And, oh my goodness, did it suck getting from 3-5 miles. But once you're at that point? Well now you've been running a long time and, in order to get there, you'd have to have been somewhat consistent.

And after that, the sky is the limit.

If you're not a runner, don't think about marathons or half marathons. Not for a darn second. I never did! God! Gross!

It was only once I ran somewhat regularly -- perhaps 1-2 times per week plus some other workouts -- and that I could get up to five miles running straight that I thought about training for a half. And it was only after I ran several halves that I considered a full marathon. The distances can and will come with time and consistency.

And I promise that you could do it too.

So, my challenge for you is this: If even a small part of you is considering running, give it a shot. Not once. Not twice. Make a plan and stick to it. Couch to 5K is a great program, but there are a lot of online resources and apps that can help.

Put runs in your calendar like you'd schedule a work meeting or drinks with a friend. Plan what you're going to do in that workout (walk 3 minutes, run 1 minute, repeat for 30 minutes perhaps?) and stick with it. Put in 100% effort into each session, knowing you're doing a good thing and that it will be over soon. Record what you've done in a diary of some sort and also record exactly what you plan to do. This will help you to notice a quantifiable difference not just in your weight, but in what you are capable of.

Give it months before you judge, and not just a couple of runs. And give it the time to show the results. For me, it took a decade. But truly it could be so much faster if you -- unlike I was -- are diligent. I promise, promise, promise, that if I can do it, you can do it.

So tell me, do you buy it? Why or why not? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


  1. This is so timely! I struggled big time with a 5k this weekend but I finished. Doing a 5k without struggling is my next goal. :)

    1. 5Ks are a great distance. Once you do a few, it will become more normal for sure. Congrats on finishing your first 5K! What a great accomplishment :)

  2. Great post! Getting from zero to three miles is absolutely the hardest part.

  3. I'm not exactly a newbie, but I know getting started is a process. I joined track and XC as a high school junior, but we covered pretty short distances. I remember being SO relieved that I had to take the SATs on a weekend that the XC team was going to run 10K at a meet instead of the usual 5K! I thought there was no way I could run 6 whole miles and not drop dead. I started running 6ish miles 5 days a week in college and didn't work my way up to a half and then a full marathon until my senior year, so I always find it perplexing how some people go from not being a runner to 13.1 or 26.2 in just a year or two!

    1. Thanks, Carla! I know, when I hear newbies getting right to the distances, it's very hard for me to fathom. Truly I would not have been capable until recently to do what I do. I guess everyone is build differently and biology -- I'm sure -- makes a huge difference! Thanks for reading :)