I hate running. Which might make you wonder how in the world I ended up running a 50k trail race.
My entire adult life I hated running. When I was a kid, running was fun—I even won a sprint in my elementary school’s mock-Olympics one year. I had my moments of bliss, running with the wind after school. But as an adult it was a different story.
Running hurt. And it was boring. I was not a runner. But then things changed in my life, and my previous schedule of dance, yoga and Pilates classes with weekend climbing trips was simply impossible. I could not commit to “same place, same time” style classes. I just did not have the time.
But no exercise makes me a grouchy, grouchy lady.
I needed exercise, I needed to get out, and I needed something I could do at a moment’s notice in-between doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. Which sounds like—yes, you guessed it—running. So I tried running again (thinking, how bad could it be? Maybe I would like it this time… and other nonsense).
And it hurt. It was boring. I hated it.
So I changed my strategy. My goal was to get 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least three or four times a week. I loaded my i-pod with awesome, fun new music and podcasts. I started with a 10-10-10 cycle: walk ten minutes; jog ten minutes; walk ten minutes. Then, rest day. The first week, I ran a 10-10-10 cycle three times. The second week, I added a few minutes to my jogging, so my cycle was ten minutes walking, 15 minutes jogging, and ten minutes walking. These cycles were over so fast, I almost felt like a cheater. But nothing hurt, and I didn’t hate it. I kept going.
I found new trails, I found new music. I tried varying my pace. I never added more than five minutes duration at a time, and when old injuries flared up, I dropped back to a shorter cycle. If it hurt, I slowed down. Once I got up to 25 minutes of jogging, I changed the cycle to 5-25-5. By the time I got up to jogging 45 minutes, my cycle was 5 minutes of slow jogging, 35 minutes faster jogging, 5 minutes slow jogging.
Slowly, my body adjusted and running hurt less. And then not at all. I started to like running. After a year of running, I could run 10 miles. After two years, I finished a marathon training program and ran a 50k trail race with no injuries.
I have to admit, there are still days when I hate running. I may even decide to walk instead of run. But usually, 20 minutes down the trail, I change my mind, settle into a gentle jog, and start to love it.
Instead of making it an all-or-nothing task, try making running painless. You might find that you really are a runner after all.