Do I Have to Run?

If you are anything like me, you allow your self esteem to be directly related to your self view. My self view is that I am totally out of shape, overweight, and need to get focused. My self esteem has been pretty low because of it. So I thought, “Hmmm, how do get my body back to the shape I know it should be?” I know that I am really an athletically trim figure but the world just can’t see it. So I have to straighten up. has an amazing thing called “App of the Day.” One fine morning they offered C25K. I got it, not thinking I would really use it, but just to have if I did decide to run. Back in November I decided to try it out. I was doing really good until a dumb driver sideswiped my training and I couldn’t exercise for two months. But enough of that, I’m not bitter. Really.

I dislike running for any length of time. Distances scare me, my asthma kicks in, my congestion builds up, and I think, “Why am I doing this?” I am all about the quick burst of speed, even did track in school. Yet, to be good at quick bursts, you need to be in shape. To be in shape, that means movement.

To be good at running I think back to an article I read years ago on how to run correctly. You can Google how to really do this if you don’t know, but here are the points I remember.

  1. First you must have great shoes. I bought some amazing shoes that feel so soft, you won’t even remember you are running. Umm… I don’t think so. Hey, I know I am running but at least my feet won’t hurt while doing it. Plus, they look cute.
  2. Second, maintain proper posture. You don’t want to be the person injured going for a run because you didn’t watch where you were going (while smiling) or just look silly running because your arms are flopping and your feet are pointed out. Look good, so the next passerby will believe you run all the time and enjoy it.
  3. Third, run like you do enjoy it. This one always cracks me up, probably because it is SO true. No matter how much you hate an activity, you don’t want people around you to realize it. The general public wants to believe that you are having fun getting in shape, not dying with every step. Think of those Nike commercials. So put a smile on your face. I treat it like eating green beans in front of my kids. As a mom, your child has to have a chance at new foods and experiences without your value judgment on it. So you smile and take a bite (they haven’t noticed my serving size yet). Same thing with running, smile big!

Number three sticks with me. I tend to enjoy running more when I smile and think it can be fun.

I will just support Luci Furious and say that the C25K is awesome. This little thing is the incentive I, and maybe you, need. It tells me when to walk and when to run, it should change my music but it doesn’t. I don’t mind since I know what music inspires me to move. I love walking and then running for a quick moment. I can run for a minute, look good doing it, and even smile. A little bit of Linkin Park and Lady Gaga helps as well.


By Trulybst

Pursuing life to its fullest. A woman, a mom, wife, and struggling teacher who knows the importance of treating myself right.

61 replies on “Do I Have to Run?”

I’ve just gone for my first couple runs of the year this week… what incredible March weather! I’m not a dedicated runner — I drop it in the winter and pick it up again in the spring. I don’t care for treadmills, but I do other types of exercise over the winter, so I’m not totally starting from scratch. But, still, it’s always a bit of a challenge.

This year, I downloaded an app called “Ease into 10K”. So far, it’s perfect for my fitness level. I love how it tracks my workouts. The GPS feature is very cool, and I can play my own music while it runs in the background. They have an “Ease into 5K” app as well, which is a C25K-esqe program that would be great for total beginners.

I started running a couple of years ago with a real life C25K-type class offered through my local FleetFeet store. It was very motivating to run with a group. I highly recommend seeing if any beginner running courses are offered near you if you’re interested in taking up running!

I keep trying to get into running, and then it rains for three weeks straight, or the temperature hits 30°C and over for five months and I can’t face it. Taiwan is awful for running, I don’t know how the people I see running all the time do it. I suppose the solution would be treadmills, but I can’t take the boredom. I quite enjoy running outside (“quite” as opposed to loving the rest of my exercising activities) but I just cannot do treadmills. It’s too easy to focus on how hard it is when I’m not going anywhere.

Hm. I really want to run though. I guess I’ll stick to my Nike Training Club app for now (I LOVE this so much, I’m having so much fun) and hope that it stops raining one day, ugh.

Oh wow, you live here as well? I can’t say I’ve really struggled to exercise here, it’s just for running, since I cannot do treadmills. I used to go to the gym when I lived near one, but now I’m near my school and the school gym is not good. Our pool however is great, so I’ve been swimming a fair bit. Otherwise I find exercising at home actually better, I use either videos or right now the NTC app since I discovered it recently. I did yoga for a few months but it was half an hour away and I am lazy. Bikram yoga sounds cool, I’m glad you found a good studio! I’ve been looking for kickboxing classes because I’ve always wanted to try, but no luck.
And I talk way too much :/ sorry for that.

I love running. Now at least. I started back in college when I was writing my honors thesis or in the lab all the time and generally sitting. I felt like crap. So I started running. Mostly in the early mornings so no one would see me run.  I started with once around the block and kind of built from there. I’ve done a few races and topped out at a half marathon, at which point I did something terrible to my IT band (the thing that goes from the outside hip to the outside knee), but I finished!

Now I mostly stick to trail running, since the ground is generally soft and still no one has to see me run. No one looks good running. If someone’s running and smiling at the same time, it’s almost Stepford-esque. I am sweaty and ragged and some hideous shade of magenta (no matter how fit I am- I blame the fair skinned Irish heritage thing). But at the end of it, I feel pretty awesome. And that’s the main thing.

I run on the treadmill, which bores me to tears, but it has been the only option since I get home after dark and don’t live in a very safe neighborhood. I used to get shin splints ALL THE TIME, but then I switched to the ridiculous Vibram Finger shoe things and it has made a world of difference. Aside from a few days of discomfort getting used to them, I haven’t had shin splints or any other odd running pains. They may look kind of ridiculous, but I do not give a damn.

I can kind of see these barefoot-type running shoes working with a treadmill, but I’m not sure about outside. Asphalt? (I try to stay off it, but there are still some stretches of hard pavement on my usual route.) Stray bits of broken bottles?… (Last year I was in New Orleans for a conference and later discovered a shard of glass embedded in the sole of my shoe, it had almost pierced through the insole, too. I still get shudders thinking how filthy those post-Mardi-Gras streets were.)

I always liked the idea of running more than the practice (unfitness and large chest being my main barriers) – and I tried C25K for about three weeks, until I thought I was aggravating an old injury and stopped. Turns out I was actually discovering a new, permanent, injury, and running is really not advisable for me any more ever. Which… can’t say I’m too sad about that. I do think that if you are physically able to, though, running or C25K or something can be really good. There are few excuses you can make not to do it.

I’ll be cheering you all on from my yoga mat.

Does anyone here barefoot run? I was a devoted runner but in my old age (of 26) my hips and knees aren’t doing so well. I find the barefoot cardio we do in martial arts doesn’t hurt my knees at all… so I am thinking of trying barefoot running. Anyone have thoughts or tips about this? I would love to hear them.

If you have joint pain from running you might also check out a posture/form book/workshop/video/something first. I have learned a little bit about Chi Running (just the form, not really the whole philosophy, which it looks like is wider, maybe, based on the website) and I’ve been able to run further without pain by adjusting where I land and how I hold my body. That’s just one idea–there are probably others!

Basically, the idea is to minimize impact and the work your muscles do my cooperating with gravity. It’s not a super hard fix; I had run for like 12 years before I talked to this guy, and in the past six or so months I’ve been adjusting without too much difficulty.

I’m not great at running, but, damnit, I went and ran yesterday, and it made me happy.  After the worst mono ever, I’ve been working on getting back into shape, doing my burpees and some random easy stuff around my house.  Then, yesterday, it was 75 out with only 10mph wind (that would be half of what it normally is where I live), and I ran.

I sucked immensely, and I think I must be allergic to something out in the fields, cuz my sinuses immediately hated me.  But I ran.  And now my legs are sore.  But it’s good sore.

Just a suggestion, there may be a confusion between kinds of Englishes here. “Sneakers” is a North American word (not one I would use for running shoes, I’d say “runners”, for example) and I know English isn’t Freckle’s first language as well.

Americans use an unnecessarily large variety of words to describe athletic shoes. In my neck of the woods sneakers is a term only used for flat soled shoes like Vans or Keds. We tend to call rubber soled shoes with arch support tennis shoes (or just tennies). We’ll also use running shoes if they are specifically made for running in. Elsewhere in the country sneakers is a catch all for all athletic shoes. And I’m fairly certain I’ve heard other variants too, but they aren’t coming to mind. So this may very well be a semantics problem.

I think it’s accessible in the sense that there’s no need for a huge initial investment beyond an okay pair of shoes (and for some, a good sports bra), if the environment is accommodating.  But I agree it should be made clear that it’s still high-impact exercise and as such will not be suitable for everyone by default.

Of course, no sport should be started without any information and knowledge about what it can do and is going to for your body, maybe I’m just too brainwashed to expect from everyone to think about that.

But I’m thinking about people who say they don’t want to go to the gym because it’s expensive, swimming pool because it shows to much flesh et cetera. You can go running with a group of friends, build it up my point so unclear? I’m starting to doubt myself right now.

The confusion is that it’s financially accessible, but it’s not physically accessible for certain bodies.

Not all activities- not even long distance walking!- are good for all bodies at all fitness levels.

Yes, Walking/running is more broadly accessible than a lot of things. But the point is, that for a number of people’s bodies it can be damaging to do particularly in certain settings. And for some bodies, it might not even be accessible at all for a number of reasons.

Environment is a factor in determining accessibility too. some places are only suited to advanced fitness levels, while others are unsafe for socio-cultural rather than structural reasons. For some people in those areas, the balance between physical and financial accessibility swings against walking/running and towards other activities such as yoga, kick boxing, or other indoor oriented activities.

@ninjasavestheday and @CherriSpryte are we having the same/similar points?

I know for me, walking for a distance to get the impact or running like at all is a lot less accessible than a wide number of other activities. In fact, Because of the type of arthitis in my knees and hips, walking unassisted in the most financially accessible manner is painful, and could when overdone for my personal body’s needs lead to walking becoming MORE inaccessible for me. (I’m multiply disabled. It is an interesting life.)

Because of my body type, the financial accessibility issues of a YMCA membership are vastly outweighted by the lack of other accessible to my body + fitness level activities compared to the wide range of appropriate to my body  activities available there. (plus, I have a scholarship.)

eloquence is due to a decade of disability justice work.

The stuff that makes me unable to respond are ones about mental health and developmental disabilities and accessibility. That can get hair tearing out, highlighting access issues to someone whose privilege means they don’t have to deal with it. Or does for me any ways, but maybe that has to do with a history of my needs being invalidated around those sets of disabilities. . . hm. . .

I want to add another voice agreeing to this. At one point when I was trying to get into shape, I was dating a runner who tried to make me a runner. I have always had problems with my ankles and consider myself a strong walker.

Running wasn’t the right choice for me, neither was the partner but that’s another issue. Now I’m living in a place where I walk everywhere I can and feel good as walking works for me. I appreciate how effective it can be but it’s not for everyone.

Yep, similar points. Running can be great when it works for the person in question, but it won’t work for everybody, and it sometimes seems to me that this bit gets overlooked when people tout DIY training programs like Couch to 5K. Also, it’s sad that the safety of the environment should be an issue here, but it is.


Shoes are the most important thing of all.  If you can, buy them at a store where the salespeople watch your gait and can suggest the right shoe – since everyone is different, a shoe that is perfect for me might totally screw up your knees.  The best stores have treadmills in them that you run on, and they watch your feet and diagnose you.

If you’re just starting out, make sure to stretch before and after.  And don’t stretch before you start moving – do a slow jog or fast walk for a few minutes to warm up your muscles first.  The best stretch to avoid shin splits that I’ve found is to point your toe and just put the tip of your toe on the ground, then roll your ankle around and around in both directions.  It doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything, but whenever I forget to do it, my shins start hurting within 15 minutes of running.

And if you’re hooked on social networking, join DailyMile – it’s like facebook, but you post your runs instead of status updates, so it helps track your progress, and also everyone on there is ridiculously happy (I think it’s all the running they do) so they always leave you crazy positive comments.

Oh, and find a local race in your area – 5Ks are the best to start with.  Races are awesome, and they make you feel all powerful and healthy.  And then you get a cool shirt to take home, and sometimes a medal too.

RUNNING IS AWESOME.  Look how happy my friends (blue tank & green Boston shirt) and I (white tank top) are!

Another option to reduce potential shin splints is to write the alphabet with your toes (keeping the rest of your leg still) so you’re loosening up in all directions.

I second the stretching after. Also, I feel like it’s important to note that there’s not really a “bad” run. You can run for a minute and walk for five and run for a minute and walk for five more, or you can run for two hours, and those are both fine. Running should be, like yoga and other stuff, about your goals and your practice and your enjoyment, not competing against some abstract ideal of what “runner” means. Easier said than done, I know.

So, um, I’m running in a 15K this Sunday. Last July, I was ELATED to be able to run 3 miles straight, without stopping. It’s been a climb. (Literally since this 15K is particularly hilly).

I did cross country in high school but never anything beyond a 5K. I refused to go further. I also did Track and Field (my main sport). So, running is my jam. Thankfully, I can say that now. Last year? It was a far away love.

So. Why did I start running again in July? (July 1st to be exact) I hurt my back really badly working in the yard and thought that running would be the best way to work my body as a whole which would then help strengthen my back, gradually. It totally worked.

I love talking about running. But, none of my friends really run. One is starting to get into it. Since I wouldn’t shut up about hitting the 5 mile mark or the 8 mile mark or that one time I threw up. In high school, I even wrote about running for our lit mag. So, if anyone wants to talk – I’m here, I’m totally here. Just not on Sunday. I plan on dying that day after I get my medallion for finishing. :D

Good luck in your race!  I ran 2 half-marathons last year and loved them.  You will rock it.

I’m a big fan of DailyMile – it’s like Facebook, but for running.  Everyone there is crazy happy and they always post ridiculously positive comments to your runs.

I have this problem!  When I get back into running, I REALLY get into running.  I subscribe to Runner’s World and feel motivated just reading the articles.  All I want to do is talk about the runs I’ve done or the runs I’m going to do.  I did a 7 mile run yesterday (training for my third half marathon) and spent the rest of the evening parsing the interesting bits and pieces to my boyfriend, who then had to hear all about it again later that night with my friends.  I will so happily talk about running with you.

Good luck on your 15k!!!

Thanks! It will be the longest distance I have ever run in my life. I fully intend to wear the medallion for a week straight. I’m not even kidding. :)

I used to get Runner’s World and Shape magazine but let the subscriptions end.

Now that Daylight Savings has hit and there is more daylight in the evenings, I may be able to get some more miles in. I could even round up a friend to join me. She lives next to an awesome running path. It must be used! :) It just needs to stop raining/snowing.

I also love running, but I don’t talk about it too much except with my close friends who are at similar running levels to me because otherwise I feel like a douche. I always get annoyed at my friends on fbook who post EVERY WORKOUT THEY DO so I never want to be that person, even though that might be my personal issue. Haha.

That is awesome. You are my running hero! I’m training for a 5-mile run in May and just barely hit the 5-mile mark on my training runs, so I’m in good shape, but I love hearing about people going further and further because then it seems doable for me!

Make sure to come back and tell us how it went! I wish you good weather and good speed!

Thank you! You can bet that I will be unable to shut up about it. I’ll find ways to weasel it into every conversation. “Oh, there’s a team meeting at 10am? That’s the same time I finished running a 15K this last weekend, how funny!” See, it’s already too easy.

My next goal after this is to hold at or below the 10 minute/mile mark. I’ll move from a distance focus to speed/strength focus. I also just found out I can TOTALLY dominate a steep hill in my neighborhood. I think running up and down that might help.

It would also be nice to some day shave off a few pounds with all this running. So far I have lost no weight. I’m probably converting some fat to muscle but I would like to convert fat to sweat instead. It’s hardly a main focus but it would still be nice.

I actually lost weight a couple of years ago because I read that losing weight can make you faster, which makes sense, but I was like, “huh… I’d like that.” And it was (for me) a way better goal than like, “get skinnier to be prettier” because I find the latter goal demoralizing. And I DID get faster, but that could also have been what I did that caused me to lose a few pounds. Unclear.

I didn’t lose a pound when I took up running (that was about two years ago, I’ve lost like…five pounds now?  Not much) but I went down two pant sizes in under a year.  It was definitely all about lots more muscle for me.

And have fun with the 15k!  I ran one last November and it was awesome.  It’s a good distance for making you feel like a BAMF.  Of course, then I became a pansy and didn’t run much over the winter because I hate running in the cold and worry about falling on the ice, and I struggled to hit three miles today and am sore as hell.  I’ve got a lot of work to do if I want to run that half marathon next fall…

I don’t run because that’s not what’s healthy for my body at this point- I’m at a point where walking is more appropriate- But yesterday I over did it by accident IN THE COLD RAIN. Admittedly, I was walking because I needed to get from my sister’s out in the country into “town” not for fitness, but. 0_0 2 miles in the pouring rain for someone who can’t sit unsupported for an hour straight? Is kind of a big deal.

Today, straightening my legs hurts my calves. It feels like the hamstring is normal exercise pain, but the muscles it presses against when extended won’t relax the way they are supposed to. HORRIBLE. Thankfully I’m staying at my mum’s this week, so plenty of reiki and herbal meds to help with healing.

Over doing it = HORRIBLE PAIN.

Pushing it =/= over doing it. Know your fitness level people!

If your legs didn’t hurt too badly immediately after the run then no serious damage was done. You just used parts that hadn’t been used so much.

The pain in your legs will wear away but only after some limping. We always called this ‘good pain’ because it meant you worked. Like WORKED. But, my cross country team was crazy so…

Just ice, massage, take care. You did good. And walking is always the best way to start. Even if you don’t intend to run, ever. Walking is awesome. (you could say you enjoy Slow Running.) :)


Oh, I know all of this. I had a skiing injury as a young teen  and there’s a big difference between tearing a muscle and wha tthat feels like and over doing it. I know it will take a few days and I’ll be fine, even with the bruising- it looks like the reinjury injuries I used to get, but they aen’t the same

Part of my issue is I have chronic health issues that complicate the picture. I also have some verbal communication issues. So learning to describe the differences between pain states is something I need to practice regularly. Thus the description of my over doing it pain.

My muscles reacted badly to the pain in a localized rather than generalized way that I’m used to. I do get tense when in pain which doesn’t help the pain. But since my pain is usually fibro related, It’s a more wide spread effect than this. (Unless it’s uterus related, in which case I’m usually in too much pain to even process how my body is reacting outside of vomiting and collapsing lol. Thank g-d for hormonal birth control!)

Adding in wonky flexibility issues/stiffness from fibro and some arthritis in my knees and hips (My knees click on stairs. I’m 24. Yep. Youngest person at the warm pool sessions at the Y!) and it just takes me longer and impairs me more then usual when I personally over do it.

I find I’m less likely to over do cardio if my weight is being supported by something other than my legs. Stationary bike- particularly if there’s back support- is great. Reclining bike- even at high resistance!- does leave me sore the next day but it’s I-have-pushed-myself-properly-exercising-yay pain, not omg-mom-make-sure-I-don’t-fall-down-the-stairs pain.

There’s a HUGE difference, for me at least, between over doing it and pushing yourself. And there’s no magic number or miles or terrain that is universal- you have to find your own pushing it point and your own way of movement that works for your body and allows you to maximize the benefits and mitigate your pain.

(For me, reclining stationary bike on high resistance for 45 min = perfect. Walking even on flat or down hill for the same amount of time = ah ha ha no.)

I think just moving in some way is the important thing.

Yes, yes exactly!

And for some people, the amount of movement and/or type of movement that is impactful won’t look like “exercise” to someone with a “typical” fitness level/body. I have friends for whom getting out of bed is a serious physical challenge. They have their own routines that might look more like physical therapy to some people but for them is exercise.

Or you could think of it as regular movement/exercise is physical therapy to maintain your idea of wellness in your body. It’s not about weight loss or sweat or whatever. It’s about taking your muscles to therapy. Group therapy even, if you work multiple muscle groups for your body’s needs. (This is a hilarious cartoon image in my head, but I’m not sure how else to articulate it.)

I hope that you have success finding a new exercise that meets your changing needs! It can be a loss emotionally to lose access to an activity or movement that you enjoyed.

I used to love hiking especially in historical places and in un trailed land as a teen before my arthritis and balance deteriorated! That’s why I thought I could make the walk without hurting myself. . . Alas, I had been correct before about my body’s changing needs, and giving in to the pressure to just “suck it up it’s just down hill/flat walking!” was a poor move on my part.

Listen to your body when choosing exercise people!

Yes, exercise hurts, because building muscle strength involves muscles going through physical and chemical changes. But there’s a difference between impact pain and your body needing a different activity pain. If you have a hard time finding that line, go to a trainer with experience in physical therapy or to an actual physical therapist. Even once can change your movement life!

I’m an aspirational runner. I love running outdoors. It feels incredibly liberating to be able to go out and just run and not stop. Of course, this is assuming I have managed to suffer through a couple of weeks of those first hard, humiliating run/walk interval sessions again (but the progress is so quick it feels rewarding even when it’s hard), and have built up some semblance of stamina, so I can keep going for 10+ minutes between walking breaks. Then it’s basking in the glory of my own running awesomeness for a couple of weeks, until, inevitably, I get sick / winter suddenly arrives with knee-deep snow everywhere / summer arrives with 30+ degrees C / I develop shin splints /something else kicks me off the track. OTL

I should try again though, once the snow is gone and my health situation has improved. It’s such a massive ego boost, even if it never lasts. I’m getting quite a lot of lower-impact exercise, but none of it makes me feel as awesome as running.

Me too!  What a great way of putting it.  I get into running for a few weeks/months and then get bored or cold or busy or something and don’t do it for a year.

Maybe we should start an Aspirational Running program?  We can slowly work our way back to running?

I was doing really good until a dumb driver sideswiped my training and I couldn’t exercise for two months.

craaaaaaap. i hope you managed to recover well!

that has almost happened to me dozens of times.  i’ll have a lot of momentum, and i’ll attempt to safely cross a street IN A CROSS WALK (in other words, not jaywalking!), and some driver will come barreling down the road nearly missing a stop sign. i imagine i must look like a deer in headlights, but damn! it’s scary, especially when drivers blaze right through stop signs.

Thank you for your concern!  The guy t-boned my van as I was running an errand.  So I am doing really well.  Almost back to normal, thank God.

I have watched idiot drivers and worry about people running on the streets.  Take care of yourself!!

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