People often tell me they’d like to start running, “but…” Not everyone has the same “but,” however most reasons not to start are: “I have bad knees”; “I don’t have time”; “I hate running”; or “I’m too old.”
I understand all those reasons. I also understand that another reason, not usually expressed, is fear. Fear of what others will think…which is why we hear stories of people starting their running careers in the dark of night so nobody can see. Fear of failure…what if I can’t do it? Fear of the hard work.
The good news is that regardless of our excuses (that I want to, but) and regardless of our fears, most of us can start running. Of course actual knee injuries may preclude this form of exercise, but other than that, when properly executed running is not bad for our knees. And for those who struggle with sore knees, strength training will help (this helps us all regardless of the state of our knees).
As to time. Like anything important, we need to commit to it. Think of it as an investment into a healthier future. The added benefit is that stories are showing the mental and cognitive benefits of strenuous exercise like running. This means that incorporating even 30 minutes of exercise into your day will quite possibly help you be more efficient in your work.
Hate running? That’s a valid excuse… so try something else and get moving. Or, try running again but this time with a group and explore the social elements of running. Or, go out on your own and enjoy the meditative value of unplugging from the world.
Think you’re too old? No way! Maybe you have to start by walking. Actually I would advise all beginning runners to start by walking. Maybe you won’t be fast and that’s ok. It’s not about being fast, but rather it’s about moving. The older we are when we start, the harder it might be if we haven’t been moving. But the benefits to your health are innumerable.
As to fear… We all have fear at times. Sometimes it’s healthy. It can stop us from going overboard. Sadly it can also hinder us. But when we step into that fear and overcome it, we learn much about ourselves and are better equipped to face other challenges. I have a plaque that says “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” There is much truth to this. So step outside of your fear and do it.
In five days I’ll be running my seventh marathon. It seems kind of crazy to think of this because I can still remember those early days:
- when run-walking for 30 minutes was a hard effort;
- then, that glorious day that I ran for 30 minutes and realized I’d forgotten to walk;
- then, wanting to run a half marathon but not doing so because running 8 miles was so incredibly hard;
- then, the joy of actually running that first half marathon;
- then, the suffering as I ran my first marathon, not knowing if I was going to actually make it to the finish line because it was just that hard;
- then, the joy of camaraderie when I joined a group training program;
- followed by the frustration of feeling like I was inadequate because trying for that second marathon was so damn hard;
- followed by the release experienced when my coach said, “it’s supposed to be hard.”
- and so on…
If you want to get started, I want to help.