When I was growing up, both running and runners made no sense to me. It downright baffled me when someone was able to run more than a mile without stopping. What confused me even more was that they were enjoying it! Even though I was athletic and played sports, I wholeheartedly dreaded every single conditioning practice. I could barely keep up and couldn't stand anything about it.
The ironic part was that my father was a natural runner. He was one of those people constantly training for marathons and smiling when his alarm clock went off at 6 a.m. to go on an “easy” 15-mile run. I still remember shooting him many nasty "how rude!" looks when he was the coach and called for a lot of running during practice.
As time went on, I dropped more and more of my beliefs about what I could and couldn’t do. I started getting really into fitness and felt motivated to give running a try. I had no desire to become a “runner,” but I had an inner urge to gain a better level of fitness. I didn’t have a concrete plan; I just started running.
It’s been about six years since I began running, and I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is mentally, physically and spiritually. All-around fitness is my personal preference, and I’m not a hard-core runner, but I do believe that some amount of running can be beneficial and life changing for everyone. With time and experience you'll ease into it and see what works best for you. Although there's no magic formula for learning how to run, there are three important things to keep in mind when starting out.
1. Drop the limiting belief that you can’t run.
In my opinion, this is the most important thing anyone can do before starting to run. If you're someone who subscribes to the “I can’t run!” theory, you’ve got to know and believe right now that it’s not true. I hear this all the time, and as someone who used to be president of the “I can’t run" club, I can justifiably give you a little tough love here. Yes, you can run, and saying you can't is an excuse (unless you have a medical condition, of course). You’ve got to drop the limiting belief or you'll be right: you can’t do it. Remember, your beliefs create your reality.
2. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
When I started increasing my mileage, it was anything but easy. I had to experience some pain and discomfort to get there. "No pain, no gain" was my mantra when I was building my level of fitness. It’s important to know that people you see running long distances didn’t just get there overnight, as you may believe. They pushed through tough workouts to be able to do what they do today. If you stop right when it starts to feel tough and uncomfortable, you'll never get better. I always think about it metaphorically: in life there's always some kind of pain experienced during growth. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.
3. Run even when you're not in the mood.
I know this one all too well. The hardest part of the run can be putting on your sneakers and getting out the door. It's amazing how sometimes running is the last thing you want to do, but once you get out there, you enjoy it and completely forget about how much you didn’t want to.
Running is one of those rare things that has the ability to change a bad mood to a good one just by doing it. It only takes a few minutes to switch from the “I don’t want to” to the “I’m so glad I did it” mindset. Fight the inner lazy battle and get out there!