For years, I’ve been envious of runners and their relationship with running. That may sound odd, but I always wanted to be like them. I thought they sounded so cool when they’d say “I’m going out for a run” or “Wow, that felt great! I just ran XX miles.” Some people genuinely love running!
I am not one of those people.
And it took me a very long time to finally admit that.
See, back in college, I found myself sports-less. I wasn’t playing any sort of organized sports like I had done year-round in high school. So I needed something to stay “in shape.” I decided I’d become a person who went running for fun.
But it never felt freeing. It never felt peaceful. It rarely ever felt enjoyable. I felt like I had to constantly force myself to go out on runs. I dreaded it. I was bored! No amount of Eminem or pump-me-up music could help me enjoy it. But I was also naively desperate to sound cool and say I was a runner, as if it was some sort of exclusive popularity club for adults.
On and off for several years, I would join amateur running clubs. I thought it would be cool to be able to say I ran races. These groups usually meet about 1x a week, and you’re supposed to do “homework” (more running) on your own in between sessions. But every time I attempted to do the “homework” runs, I would get injured: shin splints, hip pain, IT band issues, etc.
There finally came a time in the last run club I joined when I started listening to my body a bit. Took me long enough, right?! I realized that if I didn’t do the homework runs during the week and only ran at the group session (which I actually enjoyed), I didn’t get injured and my endurance increased the same as everybody who was doing the homework runs.
I was amazed by this realization. Mostly that my body knew what was better for me than my brain did. Go figure!
But shortly after that last run club ended, I tried to keep up my endurance by continuing to run on my own. And UGH! I hated it.
Finally, I gave myself permission to stop running. I am not a runner. And that’s okay! I don’t need to label myself as one. In fact, in allowing myself to stop running, I actually found the type of exercise that I really like: walking and vinyasa yoga. Walking is so much less stress on my body (meaning I don’t get injured) and the slower pace helps me actually think about something other than my gasping lungs (I kid, I kid . . . sorta). As for yoga, I can’t do handstands or any crazy balancing poses, but that’s fine with me. I don’t have to do those intense moves to love it.
I also found that sometimes I really want a high-intensity interval workout. Or a barre workout. And thanks to YouTube, I can pretty much find those types of workouts when I want them. I also discovered that I really don’t like Zumba, kickboxing, or pilates.
But separation can sometimes make the heart grow fonder. On occasion, I crave going out for a run. It only happens every once in a while. And when it does, I carve out time to go out for a 20-minute “wog” (walk/jog). It’s okay if I can’t run miles upon miles. It’s okay if I only run once every few weeks. It’s okay if I can only run for a short distance before my lungs need a walking break. And without the pressure to run longer and farther and be a true “runner,” I actually enjoy these occasional runs.
So if you find yourself doing an exercise you hate, maybe it’s time to take a break and re-evaluate. Listen to your body. Try different forms of exercise until you find what you really like. Maybe take some classes at a gym or use YouTube to find free workouts.
Trust me, when you actually stop doing what you hate or what bores you and start listening to your body, it’s a freeing experience. It’s amazing how much more I want to workout when I listen to what my body wants on a particular day. Even if it’s telling me it needs rest. If that’s the case, I respect it and rest.
Life is about way more than being cool or fitting in with a certain group or labeling yourself a certain way or controlling your pant size with exercise you don’t even like.
Let me know in the comments what type of movement you actually enjoy!