A friend recently asked how to get into running. She says she just hates to run. My reply: If you hate to run, don’t. Get fit doing what something you enjoy.
My fitness rule is not to do what I have no interest in doing. If you hate to run, don’t buy running shorts. If swimming feels like drowning, stay out of pools. And if you’re scared of heights, rock climbing won’t ever be your thing. Find something active you enjoy and do it instead.
Sure, it takes a while to learn to like running, but I pretty much know how I feel right away. So do you.
My running for fitness began in Pawtucket, summer of 1999. I didn’t start because it would be good for me. Mom tried that with brussel sprouts. It didn’t work. I just kept thinking, “running looks like fun.” My first run was fun.
I ran the Blackstone Boulevard Path. About half a mile in, I was wiped. Running was tougher than I’d imagined, but somehow still fun. I kept running to lose weight and train for my first race, and it made me happy. Most runs had me wanting to run again. All of which is to say I’m inclined toward running. Your experience may be different.
Right now I’m sweating from a five-mile run. I showered, put on music and a fan, and am writing while still sweating. I feel good. I never regret having gone for a run and I can’t remember the last run I regretted while running. Today is gorgeous and I ran a beautiful route. Everything clicked. I ran for fun. It helps me get fit, but I was out there to have a good time. None of it was agony.
If your runs feel awful, if you have to blast music to make it through, if you do it because you feel you have to, just stop. Life’s too short to be that unhappy. You don’t have to run in fits of orgasmic joy (though that might be fun to watch) but it ought to make you smile. I run happy most of the time. That’s why I’m likely to run tomorrow and be more fit next week than today, maybe fitter at fifty than I was at forty.
Maybe you want to be fitter and have tried running because assholes like me say it’s fun, but for you it’s misery. Stop running then. Go dance. Play basketball or tennis. My daughter loves to swim. Swimming sucks for me and she doesn’t like to run. Find what you like and do it. If you aren’t happy, you won’t be fit. If you’re not happy, what’s the point?
I hereby absolve you of running guilt and encourage you to find your own way to fitness. Now go sweat and smile.