Runnin’ away from “running”

I’ve talked about my hopes and disdain all the same for running, here, here and here, to be exact. I’ve always marveled at runners – how the idea of pounding on the pavement for 26 miles sounds fun, how they’re drenched with sweat and covered with pollen yet they have a ‘runner’s high’, how they consider it FUN when really, it’s effing hard and I’m not sure how I understand how it’s so awesome that people like my office mate wake up at 5 AM every morning to jog around Los Angeles before the sun comes up. I mean, really? What’s better than being in bed? I guess health??? Anyways… despite my skepticism about running, tonight I think I might have unlocked a big reason to why me and running don’t always get along.

I have the high school mentality of running, where in my high school gym teacher would scream, “FASTER!” as we looped around and around the track. I felt like a chubby bunny chasing a carrot, except there was no carrot, just cruel, cruel exercise. On days when I didn’t lie about having cramps to get out of it, I hated the days we’d run “the gold course”, a three or four mile loop that circled around the back of the high school. My best friend and I actually liked the gold course, because we’d be really fast in the beginning, and then stop behind the school, slacking off for awhile, and then cut across the field and pretend we finished with everyone else. HA! I’ve been an exercise avoider for many years — for shame, but also, kind of awesome. Slacking off in PE class was pretty much the worst thing I did in high school, so I’ll take it.

Tonight, I knew I had to squeeze in some exercise, so I donned my fancy FitBloggin’ tee, cranked up the Nine Inch Nails, and set to it. The first few minutes I wanted to die (ok, slight hyperbole. Maybe not DIE but at least go back into my cozy little house and eat tortilla chips from the pillow-sized bag we just bought from Costco). I could feel my boobs jostling uncomfortably with every step, my arms were itchy, and I just couldn’t find a pace. I was out of breath and my chest was pounding within seconds but then I realized something. SLOW DOWN. I slowed down. My bootcamp instructor used to tell us “You can jog as slow as you want, just don’t walk.” So I jogged reaaaallly slow. Like almost speed walking slow, but enough that I had a little bounce in my step. And it got easier. I made it a half mile without stopping to walk, actually starting to feel like, “Hey! This isn’t so bad!”. By the second mile loop, I was doing much better; enjoying the smell of a neighbor’s wood burning stove, seeing the stars light up the smoggy hills of Los Angeles like twinkling sapphires, feeling the pulse of the pavement below me as my body settled into a natural rhythm. So that’s what I’ve been doing wrong with running, I’ve always focused too much on the speed rather than the quality. By slowing down, I was able to keep it up for much, much longer, still get an awesome, sweat dripping work out, and even better, I actually enjoyed my time on the run, rather than how I usually feel, which is trying to run away from running.

When it comes to running have you found you need to alter your pace to make it more enjoyable? Are you more of a sprinter with a need for speed or are you fine being all like “Slow and steady wins the race”?

PS: Whatcha doing tonight at 9:00 PM EST? Join me and the Diet to Go ambassadors on twitter with hashtag #DTG for a live chat with a chance to win tons of cool prizes. We’ll be chatting it up about what it means to be “common sense healthy” and how little tweaks can help you make big changes for your summer shape up. Hope to see you there!

14 thoughts on “Runnin’ away from “running”

  1. You’ve had the “AH-HA!” moment!!! 🙂 slow and steady wins the race. Speed is something you go for farrrrr down the road. I’ve been running for, what, 4 yrs now? And pace still isn’t important to me. My addiction is distance, not speed. I’m really excited that you’re enjoying running!!! 🙂 it made my morning to read this. Focus on form, and enjoying yourself. To me, those are the two most important factors. Once those are down, everything else comes without (too much) effort! <3

  2. Go girl! I always find running intervals the best way to make running a “fun” and productive form of cardio. I can’t run for fifteen minutes without a break; if I tried, I’d throw in the towel and quit at half a mile. Instead, I bought a run watch like the one posted below, and began running intervals. I started at 1:1 which literally means I ran for one minute, the watch beeped, and I’d walk for one minute. When the watch beeped again, I’d start running again. Eventually, as that got easier, I upped it to two minutes of running, and then three (always keeping the walk interval at one minute). I just ran my fastest marathon using 3:1 intervals — I averaged a 12 minute mile! I’ve gotten as high as 6:1s in my training, but I’ve found it doesn’t actually make me faster or keep my heart rate up; instead, I get tired and start straining.

    The key for me is to make sure those one-minute walk breaks are as fast-paced as can be without turning into a run. In other words, I run for three minutes, then I speed-walk for a minute, which keeps my heart rate up and keeps me in the cardio zone.

    Anyway, this probably doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve now run nine marathons and half-marathons…something I never thought I could do.

    Proud of you for getting out there!


    • My two running heroes above! Running completely changed after running with Jason and learning to slloooowww down if I planned on distance. Once you get over that initial hump, it gets better. And Liz, your ears must burn because Alyssa and I talk about how awesome you are with your running (and so much more).

      That and a good playlist goes a long way.

  3. Go girl! I think I will always prefer an hour of salsa or swing dancing to running, but power to ya for finding a way to do it that fits into your happy zone! And I like the fact that you ran to NIN. That’s hardcore. (But not like the Pulp album, ‘This is Hardcore.’ Probably not good running music…)

  4. You rock! Good to hear you are still up and at it.

    Each gait requires different muscles. Someone can be a very fast sprinter but be a horrible long distance runner and vice versa. Sprinting short distances requires different muscles than jogging long distances and I knew people who were champion track athletes who thought long distance runners were crazy to run more than 400 yards.

    Walking also uses different muscles and some people have mastered the art of walking so well that they could walk faster than most people could run. I was once at a track meet where they had a mile long walking event and the fastest person walked a mile in less than 8 minutes!

    If someone is running long distance, I would advice finding a steady pace that you can breath through. That pace is different for everyone. Also, if you use proper form, you can jog for a long time but understanding form is very important. Most people don’t think about that.

    There is nothing wrong with preferring short distance over long distance or walking over running. They are all great cardiovascular activities.

    • Rhea,
      I had no idea that the different muscles affect how the pacing is, etc. I miss your class… Susannah and I will try to be there soon, I’m out of town next week though. Hope you’re doing great and thanks so much for stopping by <3

  5. woo hoo! see! you can do it.

    i just now started to look at pace – only after a year and a half of running and even now it’s more modest improvements. i would rather go distance than speed. make sure you focus on your form [keep that body and shoulders up to avoid extra exertion on your lungs] and listening to your body and you will go miles.

    good job!

  6. One of these days I’ll try running again. At my weight, and with Type 2 Diabetes, my doctor has me on a strict no-running, no-walking workout. (But how am I going to keep from walking if I want to go to the zoo? Hm? I’m not going to get one of hose evil little scooters and zip about like the lovechild of R2D2 and Jabba the Hutt!) But I’m totally with you, I always hated running. Especially in high school PE class.

    Still, last trip to the zoo, I did some sort of bouncy walk/jog thing and it worked out pretty well. Maybe I’ll do it again!

  7. I do not run fast either. If I’m running one mile only, I can run around an 11 minute mile. If I add any more mileage to it, I’m a lot slower. One of these days, I’m going to figure out pacing.

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