The idea of running causes a consistent tug of war in my head. I love the idea of it and fully admire the runners of the world but have never actually enjoyed doing it myself. Here is a basic pro/con list of my feelings toward running.
- You can do it anywhere with minimal to no equipment beyond a good pair of running shoes.
- You can do it at any time you can sneak in a quick workout.
- Running is a great way to get in aerobic work and improve your cardiovascular health.
- The running community generally seems like a great, supportive bunch and I would love to be able to pop in to run groups or running events without thinking twice about it.
- Runner’s typically have beautiful, muscular legs.
- I hate it.
- I hate it.
- I HATE it.
Okay, my con list may be a little aggressive. Let me explain. As early as the Presidential Physical Fitness Test back in elementary school, asking me to run even a mile has seemed impossibly hard. Mainly, my aerobic fitness has never been my strong suit and it feels like my lung capacity is tiny. It often feels like my lungs are bleeding whenever I do something remotely challenging. Further, especially as I’ve gotten older, it seems that running brings on pain in my hips or knee that I’d rather avoid. And finally, I don’t like not being good at things. I know, I know, you can’t get good at things unless you practice and everybody has to start somewhere. But, I get frustrated and have never really given it a solid try.
But time and again, something pushes me back to the idea of running. Often it happens when I go support my husband or friends at one of their races and get caught up in awe of the runners and the excitement of the event as a whole. Or I go on a hike or a bike ride and am embarrassed at how hard it feels to me.
The first time I ran this time around was the result of a surge of stress one day. It happened to be while I was home in central Washington in the middle of a 103 degree summer day. I hadn’t eaten much or had enough water that morning and then went full out in the direct sun. Maybe not the best choice and mostly I felt like I was going to pass out the whole time. But I did a few mini runs after and was again re-inspired when I went to crew at the Silverton Ultramarathon. If these people could run 55-100k, I could surely do an occasional 2-3 mile jog.
Plus, I have a lot of tools to improve the experience that I have never been good about using myself, even though I often teach people the same things in my practice. As a physical therapist, I can surely be a bit smarter in my ventures into running. I can make wiser choices than going full out in the middle of a blazing hot day, I can work on my running form, I can warm up and cool down properly, and I can do specific strengthening and stretching to try to ward off the aches and pains that have snuck up on me in the past.
My first promise to myself is to try to keep it fun (or as fun as running can be). To me, that means not forcing a run if my mind isn’t into it, not forcing any specific distance, taking walk breaks when I need to before I get to the miserable wheezing/flailing stage in my run, and treating myself to a short yoga sequence afterward. And at this point, I am not going to set a big goal for my running. While I do think this can be a great way to stay motivated and stick with a plan, I want to remain realistic that even if I put more directed attention into my running, it still may not be the best or most enjoyable form of exercise for me, and in that case I would rather accept that and let it go without feeling like I have “failed.”
Regardless of where I get in my own running journey, I am going to share some of the tips and tricks that I think can make running a bit smoother and healthier, whether you are a newbie/hater like me or a seasoned pro.