I am not a runner. But I would like to be.
Someone once told me running is the easiest exercise a person can do because it’s natural to us: ancient cavemen would have had to run to flee from predators just to stay alive so it should just come instinctually.
Perhaps that’s actually why it was also hard for me to take up running: After all, if I wasn’t being chased, there was no motivation to run.
However, I recognize running is one of the best forms of exercise for your body, and over the last couple of months, I’ve been able to do more of it. I wish I’d realized sooner the prior beliefs I had about running were just excuses I was making that kept me from reaching my potential. And if you’re like me and thought the same, hopefully this testimonial will change your mind and get you back out on your feet!
Myth 1. Some people are just more physically able
I used to dread the feeling of utter exhaustion that accompanies running, especially because I would get tired quickly and then lose motivation altogether. I would run for a few minutes, walk for a few minutes, and then get tired, bored and stop. I would have only exercised for about 8-10 minutes and given up and then thought that running just wasn’t for me and was something that I wasn’t “cut out for.”
I see now that this was a mental hurdle I had to overcome– gradually.
This goes back to starting small and building up, as I mentioned in a previous post. If 10 minutes is all I can do today, that’s fine. The point is I got up and ran for 10 minutes. Tomorrow, I’ll try for 15. But if I feel like pushing further, maybe it means taking a one-minute walking break and getting right back to it to do another 10 minutes on the treadmill. It’s easy to quit after 10 minutes saying you can’t do it. It’s harder to accept that you need a break and to get right back to it, pushing yourself to be uncomfortable for a few minutes more. These days, I try to push for just a couple more minutes, and keeping those short goals helps me push through so that 30 minutes later, I’ve run more than 3 miles.
The reasons I recently turned to running was to get in some cardio exercise because the elliptical just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I needed to vary my workouts. Plus, when I went home for a holiday weekend and wasn’t able to go to the gym, I had to force myself to run outside around my neighborhood because it was the easiest way to stay active.
The fact that all of my muscles were working and that I could feel that work the next day was a thrill, and it made me want to run again the next day so I could continue to get a full body workout. The rush I experienced in reaching certain milestones was addicting and made me want to fun faster, harder, longer.
Now, I’m still a terrible runner. I can’t sustain it for long and if I’m on a treadmill, I still find it boring. But, at least now I’m much more willing and comfortable to go for a run when I feel like I need to get in a quick and easy workout– So much so that I ran my first 5K a couple weeks ago, but more on that later.
Myth 2. Running outdoors is harder than a treadmill
If by harder you mean it’s more varied with unexpected inclines and declines, then sure, it’s harder. I used to avoid running outside because of that very variability and the heat. I was born and raised in Florida, and that temperature and humidity were just overwhelming when I ran. I preferred running indoors on a treadmill because it was in an air-conditioned, climate controlled environment.
But now that I’ve been running more outdoors I see that it so much more fun than running indoors, and it makes the time pass much faster. Plus, I feel like my body prefers it too. I have found that running on some varieties of treadmills take a toll on my shins. Running outdoors, the ground is more natural, and there’s more to see. I don’t even need to listen to music anymore when I run outside because my surroundings keep me entertained enough.
When I’m on the treadmill, I work to reach certain time limits or distances. When I’m running outside, I work to run towards certain landmarks, like a mailbox, lamppost or tree. It helps with that pushing I talked about earlier. “Let’s see if I can get to that mailbox,” and once I get to it, “Let’s see if I can push a little further and run to the tree.” And if I absolutely can’t do it, I take a break by walking.
Myth 3. Walking doesn’t count
Walking totally counts. It gives you the necessary break in between sprints and that way you can keep running for longer. Plus, if you’re like me and trying to lose weight, the hi-intensity, lo-intensity workout is helpful for burning fat.
I’ve even used a couple running apps for weight loss, and even they program you to run a few minutes and then walk a few minutes. If the experts are advocating the run-walk combo, then I certainly won’t doubt it.
Plus, if all the wearable activity trackers are counting the simple steps you take each day even when you aren’t running, it counts for SOMEthing.
Myth 4.Running events (k/-thons) are for experienced runners
A few weeks ago, I signed up for my first running event– a 5K at a pharmacy convention in Baltimore. I figured that because I’ve been exercising more over the last year that this wouldn’t be too much of a problem for me, and I had been consuming so many calories at the conference that I thought I could use the motivation to burn some off. After signing up, some of the conference goers in our group asked me if I’m a runner and if I’d done this before. When I told them I hadn’t, their response was “Oh ok yeah, then you’ll be walking it.” I started to feel intimidated about what I’d gotten myself into: A 6 a.m. run in 37-degree weather in a new city, and I had no running experience.
I did fine, and I ran most of it, with some walking in between (I could definitely improve my time, which I won’t post here :-). A 5k isn’t even that long (3.1 miles), and it felt great for having started my day on the right foot. I was happy I took this plunge and I was pleasantly surprised at myself; Signing up for the event was pretty random given that I was only accompanying my husband at this conference to begin with. I didn’t sign up with anyone I knew, it was cold out, which may have deterred some people from the start, and I was running in a completely new city for the first time.
Over the next few weeks and months, I plan to run more and challenge myself by running in different environments. Hopefully I can build up my stamina and improve my time so the next time I sign up for a 5k (or any k), I won’t have to walk at all. And if I still have to, so be it. It’s not such a terrible thing.