My Running Story: Why I Refuse to Do It and You Can’t Make Me
I hate running.
I always have and I always will.
Even though I fought it, I came to this conclusion very early on.
First, when the mean girls in grade school would walk around the track and chat. Whenever I would get near them to join, they’d take off sprinting. I’d go panting after them in my worn-out Keds, without a prayer of catching them. Good times.
Then, when my older brother won every cross-country meet, was the anchor on his 4×400 relay team and even went to the Junior Olympics. He was a track star, with the nickname Fast Eddie. You know what that made me, right? How unfortunate that both the word “slow” and my name start with an “S.”
It sealed the deal for me when I was always the last person to cross the finish line in shuttle runs, 100-yard dashes and basketball conditioning sprints. In middle school. In high school. In college.
And yet, I’ve always been the type of person that makes up her mind about something and then goes and gets it. I kind of like that about myself, and I’m not too modest to say that.
I did it–I made myself a runner. In 2009, I trained for and completed three half-marathons in a year, with quite decent times, if I do say so myself. And then I blew out back (my disc at L4/L5), and my running career was over.
Thank the Lord.
I was not running for the right reasons.
Here are the wrong reasons to run:
- Because everyone else is doing it.
- Because you want a collection of “free” t-shirts, participation medals, race bibs or the right to put a sticker on your car that says “13.1” or “26.2.”
- Because you want an excuse to eat a bunch of junk food and/or massive quantities to “fuel” your runs.
- Because you want an excuse to eat jelly beans on Saturday mornings at mile 7.
- Because you think it makes you a better athlete or even more ridiculous, a better person.
- Because you want friends and family members to line up in the cold to make you feel loved by holding up signs for you and cheering.
- Because you think the only way to be the size or level of fitness that society and/or you are convinced is “ideal” is to torture yourself by pounding mile after mile on the treadmill or the pavement.
Here are the right reasons to run:
- Because you love it.
(And coincidentally, that’s the right reason to do pretty much anything in life.)
So that takes at least 50% of us out of the running game. I suspect it’s even more, but that’s for you to figure out for yourself.
Just because you can admit that you’d rather kick rocks than go for a run, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to be fit. I’ve come to appreciate that I can actually be healthier in every sense of the word without running.
A big turning point for me was when I read Mark Sisson’s article, A Case Against Cardio. (Thanks to Heather for alerting me to it.) The main point of the article is that plodding along on our treadmills or sidewalks has created a nation of “overtrained, underfit, immune-compromised exerholics.” Mark asserts that the path to true fitness can be found by combining some low-level cardio (think walking), some short, intense cardio (think sprints) and some lifting of heavy things (think weights and/or resistance training). And perhaps most importantly, enjoying it.
While I used to run 5-6 days a week, proud that I’d logged 30-40 miles, it’s rare that I hit 2 or 3 miles now. In a week.
Three days a week, I lift weights.
One or two days a week, I do sprints (run as fast as I can for 30 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds and repeat 6 or 7 times) or intervals (I either cycle, walk, jog and sprint, or use the elliptical for 20 minutes, varying my rate of perceived exertion from 5-10).
At least one day a week, I don’t plan a workout, but I’m just active (Pilates, a short walk, a trip to the park with the girls or a living room dance party).
And on Sundays, I do absolutely nothing.
By my calculations, that’s about 24 minutes of “running” per week, at the most. And that’s mostly just sprinting and then walking. That’s more than enough for me.
I’m physically stronger than I’ve ever been and getting stronger every day, since cardio isn’t eating up my hard-earned muscle. My back is pain-free since I have developed the core strength to support my spine and don’t have the constant jarring and pounding of long cardio sessions.
I spend less than four hours a week working out.
And when I do, I enjoy it.
I’m not trying to slam all you runners, especially those of you who really do love it. I’m just trying to speak to those of you hate running and are trying to make yourself into something you’re not.
There’s an even broader message for us all in this—life is too short and too good to spend doing something that doesn’t make you happy, just because you feel the pressure (self-imposed or otherwise) to do it.
Don’t be afraid to switch things up if something isn’t working for you.
I never have been.
I kind of like that about myself, and I’m not too modest to say that.