‘I HATE running. So, how did you learn to love running?!’
I get asked this question a bunch. As we near the end of January — resolutions being put to the test — I get asked with increasing urgency.
I answer their statement/question with a question.
‘Why do you want to love running?’
I really want to know WHY they think they have to love running specifically.
The truth is maybe they won’t love running. It is not for everyone. And that’s OK.
The REAL issue is not running anyway.
Let’s be honest.
The key to healthy, sustainable success is to fall in love with SOME physical activity that you will consistently make time in your day to do. Something active, fun, rewarding and friend-based or solitude-giving. You may love swimming or hiking or cycling or walking or Zumba.
It does not have to be running. It just has to be something. 🙂 THAT is the secret.
Being active is what I fell in love with and what really changed my life.
It just happens to be an activity called running. 🙂
Sometimes people really do want to know how to learn to love running specifically.
I can tell you how I got started. And we have to start with my mindset.
Run when chased.
Even then, only RUN if I didn’t stand a fighting chance.
One day about 3 years ago I realized that I would quickly and flippantly tell everyone that I hated running. Someone eventually challenged me about exactly WHY I hated it. What specifically did I not enjoy?
The truth that grudgingly emerged was that I had NEVER, ever actually tried running.
I then had some honest conversations with myself about how I could hate something I actually knew nothing about and had no experience with…
This was my reasoning:
I’ve been overweight my entire life.
Overweight people don’t run.
Overweight people who try to run get made fun of (brutally so. Google it if you doubt me) and they look pathetically ridiculous.
I am not just ‘overweight’, I am morbidly obese. I am fat.
Therefore… I hate running.
With a passion.
And if I tell people I hate running — they’ll assume I have tried it and I am just choosing not to run.
They’ll never, ever guess that I’m saying I hate it because I’m fat and scared and know that it is beyond any fitness level I have ever had in my entire life. It is beyond any amount of work or fitness I can possibly even begin to imagine…
So I had few weeks of struggling with the topic and then finally had to admit to myself that I was deeply AFRAID of something I had never really bothered to try…
It’s a rough process to realize and acknowledge something really ugly, weak about yourself.
But this time I was NOT going to run from my fears. (Pun intended. Or is this irony?!) 🙂
It was time to put on my big girl panties and deal with things. (Note: Like a lot of my female running friends, I don’t wear underwear with my running tights. ‘Big girl panties’ is just a figure of speech.) 🙂
Running for me sucked at the start. Let’s just get that out of the way. It was physically painful. Mentally exhausting. I was 230 pounds or so.
But I promised myself that this time I would give it a really solid effort and at least get PAST the fear to a personally informed opinion.
I pulled a beginners running plan off the internet, wore the best compression gear I could afford, made time for running each day, set mini-goals, told some friends.
I wholeheartedly, honestly tried running.
It was SLOW and painful at the start. In an earlier blog I detailed how I literally started by running across a driveway on my daily walk. That’s all I could handle. I kept working to build distance and time.
I struggled. Not gonna lie.
I would sweat so heavily – any time of year – I was drenched. My face would turn an alarming beet red and people would ask if I was OK. I would be red-faced and sweating for HOURS after working out. My feet, legs and hips would hurt for days after an attempt. There were mean catcalls made out of car windows. My appetite went through the roof and I had to REALLY watch my food consumption to keep the scale creeping downward. I had to invest in better shoes, bras and specialty compression gear.
But the problem was…
After a few weeks of really, truly trying to run…
I kind of fell for it.
I loved the challenge. I loved feeling the accomplishment. I loved the people I was meeting who were unabashedly supportive. I loved how my blood sugars would swoop low and STAY there. I loved how I felt a fierce sense of pride in my body and what I was asking her to do. I loved that my body was working harder then ever and yet I knew she could do even more…
I kept trying. And learning. And meeting great people. And running further.
My ‘love’ for running was obviously NOT a love at first sight kind of thing.
It was a 2+ year process of stubbornly not giving up.
So the key to learning to ‘love’ running, as far as I am concerned???
Deciding I wanted something MORE than I was afraid of it AND just NOT giving up. 🙂
There are legit physical issues that prevent people from running. I get that. I’m not here to ask you to do something you physically should not be doing.
But I am going to ask a much bigger question. The question I had to ask myself.
What are you afraid of?
For me running was something I feared. That’s why I thought I hated it.
I didn’t hate running. I was scared of being made fun of. I was afraid I would look dumb. I was paralyzed by where/how to even start. I was terrified that people would pity me or mock me or be disgusted by me.
I was afraid of something I had never tried.
Once I tried it — really, truly gave it an honest effort — it began to change my life.
That first step is ALWAYS the hardest… But it was so, so worth braving it.
Running has changed my life. And there is no doubt that it is part of what saved my life.
That is HOW I learned to love running. 🙂