Over the past few weeks, about half a dozen co-workers, friends, and acquaintances have asked me some form of that question. Apparently I have became the running guru of some kind. But, whenever someone asks me this….I kind of just pause. My answers have varied from “It takes time” to “Just keep going out there!” and “Sign up for races as a motivation to train” and also “Oh. You will like it soon enough.”
But then I reflected on this. I actually contemplated it all last week while doing, you guessed it, my training runs. After much reflection, I came to the realization that I have been lying to everyone—not everyone will like running. And honestly, there have been moments in my life that I didn’t like running. Days I didn’t love running. Days I HATED running. I do, however, think everyone has the potential to enjoy and appreciate running. Let me explain…
This is approximately my 10 year anniversary of running for me. That’s right—for me. While in middle and high school no one forced me to run on the track team, I was still part of a team. I was into events based on how I was doing at practice and how my times were at previous meets. For this anniversary, I really only take into account the 10 years from when I started training for my first half marathon in 2004. 10 years. I am 29. So 10 years is a lot of my short (yes, it’s short….I’m still not even 30!) life thus far. So in this last year, I didn’t decide to do Dopey Challenge this January after just starting to run one year ago…it had been a long 10-year process.
I have talked about it before, but there were a handful of these 10 years that I was going through the motions, signing up for one race a year. I trained every spring, ran my race, then became a lazy pile of shit in summer and winter. When I moved to Canada and thought I had trained so well for the Calgary full in 2009, but then completely bombed it with a 5:03 time, I was frustrated. WHY DID I KEEP ON RUNNING?
In those years of frustration, I tried group fitness classes–I went to Zumba, kickboxing, spinning, yoga. These didn’t work for me. I know for many people, they do. I also have gotten short-term memberships at gyms to use the elliptical. While I like the elliptical, I just became frustrated having to drive to a location in order to work out. So I always ended up back running. Running is fantastic because you don’t need a membership…you don’t pay a fee per day you work out. You put on your shoes and you hit the road.
Winter is what can be tough for new runners, and I see that now. Especially if you don’t like the treadmill! A suggestion I have for new runners is to not begin during winter. That would be a way to make you want to quit within 24 hours. Now, I have gotten my body used to the ridiculous weather conditions, and over the years I have acquired better gear. I didn’t have this luxury at the start. I was out at 8:00 AM with Runners Soul Marathon Club for a 10 miler in the 5 degree Fahrenheit weather. This is not for the faint of heart.
This last year when I kicked up my game, it was what I needed in order to get out of my running “rut.” I was not gaining anything from running anymore—my body was just sustaining it’s current state, and I wasn’t challenging myself. So my craziness I embarked on last year was needed to up my game and invoke some competitiveness in my blood. I was now starting to race again, like I did back in high school….but had the luxury of being able to be my own team.
Anyone who participates in a certain form of exercise or activity needs rejuvination. That’s exactly what I needed. I challenged myself in ways I hadn’t since my days of high school track & field, and in turn, rediscovered my love for running.
I apologize to anyone reading this who thought I would give you some scientific, or even philosophical, answer. I instead wrote 8 paragraphs and didn’t actually answer the question. Running works for me, and it may not for everyone else. Maybe for some people getting up to racing in a 5km will be the most comfortable distance. Maybe some people will be more comfortable going to a gym three times a week and working out, taking a fitness class here and there. There is no best answer for what is the best workout for everyone. But I do challenge anyone who is curious about running to give it a chance—go into it slowly, and set some goals. If you get frustrated, don’t just go and throw out your running shoes and call it quits. Take a step back, reevaluate, and try again. I am personally glad I never gave up on running the past 10 years!