To Run Or Not To Run. That Is The Question.

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A snippet of conversation I shared with a client, today:

Kelly:  “I’ve been sooo bad, lately.  I haven’t run in 2 weeks.”

Me:  “Why do you want to run, especially since you told me you hate it?”

I can see she’s perplexed. A health professional, not joining her on her self-chastising bandwagon…for not running?  Inconceivable.  I take a deep breath and offer up my perspective on why running could very well not be right for her, or right for the majority of well-intended exercisers.

So here’s the problem with running, I tell her: “Most people hate it.  If you hate it now, chances are you will always hate it. If you don’t accept this fact, you will always be pulling and probing yourself along, trying to motivate yourself to do it.  And sure, there may be weeks when you can muster up the hootspa to get out there and run, but 99% of  people who don’t like running (I’m being generous here with the 99%) don’t stick with it.  If you can’t maintain a healthy behavior for life, it ultimately does no good. It’s pointless to run for 2 week or 2 months and then stop.   To make matters worse, when your running bout does come to an end,” I continue, “you’re left feeling really bad about yourself because you feel like you quit.”  Double wammy.

Here’s the truth: No matter how good we believe something is for us, exercise, food, whatever…we stop, if we don’t like doing it.  That’s just how humans are programmed.  So to all you non-running wannabees out there, I say this:  If you don’t like to run, stop beating yourself up about it.  Walk!  Or do anything else that keeps you moving.  The good news is your body doesn’t count miles, it only responds to energy needed for the activity.  If the activity you like requires less energy then running, like say walking, just tack on more time doing it.  Chances are you will mysteriously find time to exercise if you find something you like to do.

A caveat:  If you’re reading this blog and you are a “runner,” that’s great. You’ve found an activity you like.  Some of my best friends are runners; I won’t hold that against you. My message is to those who want to be active, but simply loathe the act of running.  The reason for your disdain, my dear reader, is likely because you keep trying to change who you are, and don’t recognize both the value of many kinds of activities and the enjoyment these activities can bring.  The adage, “No Pain, No Gain” is as pointless as the leg warmers worn by the movie stars who coined this phrase.  Exercise science has come a long way since thong leotards were popular.   We know that physical and mental discomfort is counter productive to long-term exercise adherence.  Here’s my last finger wagging suggestion, I promise:  Choose exercises, first and foremost, you like doing. Running isn’t the be all and end all…and for the majority out there, not the answer to your question.

Until next time,

Peace, Hootspa and Walking Shoes

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