A few days ago I asked my non-running friends to give me their unfiltered thoughts and feelings about running, and I was sort of blown away by the response. It was big. For a second there I thought I might have accidentally asked how everyone really felt about Inauguration Day. So I double checked. Turns out a lot of people just hate running. The details and phrasing varied but there were definitely a few themes:
- IT’S HARD.
- IT HURTS.
- I CAN’T DO IT.
Now I’m a running coach. Obviously I like running. I believe even you could grow to like running… or at least hate running less. But before I go there, I need to clarify something. You don’t have to run. You don’t even have to try. My goal is not to turn everyone into a runner. This post is for the person that maybe, sort of wants to try.
RUNNING: IT’S HARD
Yes, running can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be nearly as hard as we usually make it. Ask yourself this. What counts as running? When I started running my answer would’ve been something like, “Anything faster than a 10:00 min/mile pace and absolutely no walking or jogging allowed.” Guess what? I was totally wrong.
If at some point during your stride both feet are in the air you are running. There is no minimum speed and there is no minimum number of running strides required. Let me explain. If you walk some and run some, you went for a run. If you walk a lot and run a teeny, tiny bit, you went for a run. If you stop to tie your shoes or go to the bathroom, your run still counts. If you find yourself waiting for a light to turn green, please friends, DON’T RUN IN PLACE! You can rest for 2 minutes. The run still counts.
If you want to hate running less, make it less hard by following these 3 simple steps:
- Slow down
- Walk more / run less
- Call it a run. When you talk to yourself and others say this, “I went for a run.” And then STOP TALKING. Don’t add any unnecessary commentary about how you walked more than you ran or how you went so slow it doesn’t count. It does count. Give yourself some credit.
RUNNING: IT HURTS
When you make it less hard a beautiful thing happens. It doesn’t hurt as much. Actually, it shouldn’t hurt at all. This seems like common sense so why do we so often run through pain? I think it goes back to our idea of what a run “should” be. We should run faster. We should run farther. We should walk less. We should make ourselves skinnier. And we should do all of this immediately, right now, the sooner the better! So we push, push, puuuuuush our bodies, even if it hurts.
When the reality is the only thing we SHOULD do, as my yoga teacher brilliantly highlighted last weekend, is stop should-ing on ourselves.
If you want to hate running less, make it feel good. Stop beating yourself up and try this. Walk for 5 minutes at a 20 min/mile pace. Then run for 30 seconds at a 15 min/mile pace. Then repeat. Do this for 10 minutes. If it feels good, do it for 10 more minutes. Then tell yourself you went for a run. Tell your friends and family. If you’re up for it, tell me too. I would love an opportunity to congratulate you. You deserve it.
RUNNING: I CAN’T DO IT
The I CAN’T DO IT theme was a subtle one and different than IT’S HARD. A better name might be, “Running is off limits to me.” I don’t look like a runner. I don’t look good while I run. My body wasn’t built for running. Runners are skinny and attractive. I am not that. I am different. I am not allowed to run.
If I’m being honest (which I will always be with you), I have to admit that I cannot personally relate to this one. At times in my life I have felt unattractive, and loving my whole body is an on-going work in progress. But I’ve always been on the slender size of average, and I’ve never felt that running was off limits to me based on my size or shape. So I feel like anything I say here will surely be inadequate. Yet I must say something because this breaks my heart.
My friends who feel this way – know that you have my permission. You have more than my permission, actually. I hereby extend you a formal invitation. I welcome you to the runner’s club.
Let me tell you about what happens here in the club. We get messy. We sweat. Sometimes, if I haven’t properly hydrated, a sweaty, mucusy film builds up around my mouth. Occasionally I trip and fall and my sweat gets mixed with dirt. My face turns as red as a beet. I look terrible while I’m running and then I don’t even shower. You’re allowed to look terrible too. In fact, it’s encouraged.
If you want to hate running less, join the club. Start slow and listen to your body. If you’re concerned about your joints, start even slower. Take your time ramping up. And then do me one last favor. Right after every run, before you get in the shower (because I imagine other people do this), look in the mirror and tell yourself, “You belong in the club, you sexy devil, you.”