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If You Are Not a Runner

18 Aug 2011 5:00 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
If You Are Not a Runner
Debbie Voiles

“I’m not a runner. I’d like to be, but I can’t run.”

I get that a lot, and this, too:
“I run a little bit, but I mostly walk; I’m not a runner.” They say that with great emphasis on the word “not,” and always follow it with an apologetic laugh.

I remember when I was eight. The 6th graders at the bus stop seemed like grown-ups. I couldn’t imagine ever being that big, or that old, but I did get that big and that old.  Yet, it didn’t seem big or old when I got there.

It’s that way with running. It’s all about perspective. Where you will go and what you can achieve is based largely on where you have been and what you have done. You won’t believe you can do a 5k until you have run a mile, and that is the secret to becoming a runner.  You have to start where you are today. If you are not a runner, then simply making the decision to become one is enough. The single, biggest obstacle is the mental one, believing.

You will find it surprisingly doable if you start with only slightly more activity than what you’re doing right now. That’s Day 1 of my Very Easy, Very Gradual Beginning Running Program. Tomorrow, you will walk a mile, but every two minutes, you will run 10 steps, and that’s all the running you’ll do. In fact, that’s all the running you’ll do for each workout the first week. Then, we only bump it up to 15 steps of running at a time for the next week. This gradual progression gives your body time to adapt to your new activity level and your mind time to grasp your new identity, that of a runner.

That’s right, on Day 3, you will wake up a runner. You will have already completed two days of the program and now it is time to start adjusting your self-concept. You can no longer repeat the “I’m not a runner” mantra. You will have completed the hardest part, making the commitment and getting started. After that, count on the sweet sensation of accomplishment to keep you going.
When I was growing up, I dreaded the day we did the 600 yard walk/run in school. It was always a disaster for me. That’s less than half a mile, but although I was athletic, I felt crippled any time I tried to run more than a quarter mile.

When I was in my twenties, my grandfather told me, “If you pick up a calf every day from the day it’s born, when it’s a cow, you’ll still be able to pick it up.” I’m not sure if that’s really possible (probably not) but I understood his point.

Many years after those miserable days at P.E., with much more wisdom and 20 pounds to lose, I tried running again, but this time I did it my way. I started with just a little bit of running mixed with much more walking and over time increased the running while decreasing the walking. Turns out that was the secret. That was 34 years and over 200 races ago.

What do you say? Today can be your Day 1.

There’s no shame in baby steps, but standing still won’t get you anywhere.


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