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Is there a runner inside of you?

I can’t answer that question.

If you haven’t tried since junior high gym class, you probably can’t answer it either. Or you may be inclined to answer no. I’ve had people even yell “No!” emphatically to me in response to that question. Okay, that’s fair.

Running isn’t the be-all-end-all of exercise. In many ways, as those of us who are runners know, it is a cruel companion. We all know it’s hard on your joints; I had knee surgery to remove shredded cartilage that I damaged because I had undiagnosed osteoarthritis – most likely from being obese for most of my life. I now run very little because it hurts too darn much; knee replacement is in my future. Such is life.

Because of my experience, I don’t casually recommend running to anyone. It can be a ton of fun and feel great, but it’s best to go very slowly and learn to tune into what your body is telling you. As I said in “You can persevere through discomfort, not pain” you must check your ego at the door and know your limits.

Admonitions aside, what if you really want to start? What’s the best way?

Two suggestions:

  1. Start walking. Walking is great exercise in and of itself. I don’t even mean “race-walking” or whatever, just walking. That’s how I started, and for anything over 3 miles, that’s what I do now. Walking grants you many of the same skills (climbing hills, pacing yourself) that you use running, but in a kinder, gentler way.

If you still want to run …

  1. 35b427e5a89746c6445c3faf50d9d1deRun slowly. In fact, run much more slowly than you think you can. There’s nobody you need to impress as you’re probably never gonna break the 4-minute mile, so just chillax and take your time. People who try to go too fast are the ones who end up yelling at me that they hate running. They’re the ones who can’t get the breathing down, and they get side cramps. All of that comes from trying to go too fast. Unless a bear’s chasing you, slow down for petessake!

I have a million (that may be a slight exaggeration) different running workouts that I may get around to sharing someday, but none of that really matters until you figure out if you like it. To find out if you do, start with the two suggestions above.

If you end up getting hooked on running – or, heaven forbid, you already are – take a gander at my “Top 10 Gadgets & Gizmos for Running” for ideas to make your runs even more enjoyable.

Running can be so rewarding; there is a sweet spot you hit when it feels as if your feet aren’t even hitting the ground. It is pure joy.

But there are plenty of other ways to find joy that don’t involve bashing yourself against pavement for hours, so tread lightly.

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