Perhaps We Are Looking At This The Wrong Way

So many people tell me they want to run.  They really want to start running but it sucks.  It is so hard, they get out of breath, they are just too out of shape… know the deal.  Believe me, I get this and a whole lot more.

For awhile this spring I was running 60-70 miles a week.  I wasn’t training for anything in particular, but just got in a groove and was enjoying my running.  I then had an injury and that forced me to take nearly a month off.  Post-injury I was so excited to get back “on the track” so to speak.  But man was I a tad bummed at how easily winded I get now.  I lost a bit of what I had going, but I also know from years of experience that it will come back quickly.  Let me tell you though, it does add a little “suck” to the workouts right now.

The other night I was reminiscing with someone about when I first got back into running after years away.  It was early one summer and I decided to get in great shape.  I ate super well and made a goal to run six days a week, 3 miles each time, and take Sundays off.  Every day those 3 miles were rough!  They were hard.  I even remember playing mental games like I do now but instead of playing games to get me through a 20 mile run I was counting the days til my next day off.  “Today is Wednesday.  After today I have three more runs until I get a day off.  Only 9 miles to go til rest day!”

I had no idea that those 9 miles would someday be a normal morning run for me.  Funny how things change.

Today is the start of our last week in NYC until the fall and it also is the start of our week long summer camp for our young students.  I am lucky enough to get to spend every day with 3-7 year olds.  We run around Central Park, throw balls at each other, color with chalk on the sidewalk, and play all sort of games that get made up along the way.

Have you ever sat back and watched a young child play in the park?  Do you know what they spend most of their days doing?  Running.

I have the best job ever!

I have the best job ever!

They run for hours.  They run in circles and up hills, back and forth and never stop.  When they finally do it is only to catch their breath.  If you ask them if they want a break they usually look at you like you are nuts and run back to what they were doing.

You never hear them whining about jogging to get their toy or having to chase the dog up the hill.  Hills?  Those are fun little obstacles to a child.  To us, they are some sort of speed work torture device that we moan about all day and the day after.

Part of me thinks we should throw my Garmin on a kid and see just how far they run.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they get more mileage in during an afternoon than we do for a “workout.”  Don’t worry, no Garmin’s on the children today!

Maybe we need to take the “work” our of workout.  Wouldn’t it be fun to approach your running with the carefree, throw caution to the wind mindset of a 4 year old?

Go ahead and turn on your GPS, put the headphones in and find some fun music.  But forget about your pace, or what you “have” to do.  Try to spend some time this week focusing on what makes running fun to begin with.  Even if you are like the old running me and you count the days until you get a break, dig deep down inside and find what made you love running as a kid.

I dare you to have a fun run!

And there's always dessert at the finish!

And there’s always dessert at the finish!


39 thoughts on “Perhaps We Are Looking At This The Wrong Way

  1. Love this – I never want to forget ‘the suck’ I felt when I got back into running a couple of years ago … because it taught me so much.

    I SO loved watching my kids when they were little – you just never knew where any of it was going, whether running or playing or whatever. Now as they are older it is great watching them in relationships and with friends and creating things … it is always good to step outside of ourselves to view things from a new perspective. And to embrace the joy we feel on a run … which is why I feel there are NO ‘garbage miles’.

    • So true. You really need to experience the suck to know just how great the high can be. And watching those kids run…everyone should do that for an afternoon. It makes you WANT to be out there. I too agree that there are no garbage miles.

  2. I love your approach! I think that is what has become so wrong with exercise, we just aren’t enjoying it anymore so no wonder we don’t see the results we want! I think it is important to love what you do in all aspects of life because life is short we have to live the way we want!

    • I couldn’t agree more with what you just said. I too agree that the problem lies in feeling like it is work and not finding the fun and enjoyment out of it. Even if it is enjoying the delicious meal in a different way post run!

  3. If only we could borrow some of the energy kids have! But I agree 100% with this, what’s the point of exercising if we can’t find some fun in it from time to time. I personally love workouts that involve lots of jumping around, it’s tough but it kind of feels like play time too.

    • I can’t agree with you more. After a day of chasing kids all around I am so exhausted and can’t understand how they left still running around like crazy and I was ready for bed at 7pm!

  4. “i dare you to have a fun run” — love that. i actually try to keep that perspective every single time i run, whether it’s 4 miles or 26.2. we runners fall in love with running for a million different reasons, but i think we’re all united by appreciating how much it enriches our lives on so many diff levels — the perspective it gives us on what we can achieve; the way it helps us overcome challenges both mentally and physically; the feeling of just letting loose and having time and space to ourselves to enjoy being alive; the way it invigorates us and keeps us strong and healthy and sane and more alive than we’d be without it.

    • So true, there really are a million different reasons for loving running. Honestly, part of mine is that I can eat more! And nothing makes me feel the way I do when I run.

  5. In my mind, every run is a fun run–but then I’m also coming back from a series of injuries, so I have a bit of a different perspective! But I so agree–every time that you realize you are getting too heavy into life, taking things too seriously, go and watch a child react to the seemingly most mundane experiences. And freak out for joy the next time that you GET to go retrieve the mail 😀

    • I’m right there with you coming back from injury. It makes me love the runs so much more. That being said I also spend most of the time questioning if something hurts!

  6. I am literally saying, “yes!” As I read this post.
    I 110% agree that there is more to running than a workout. It is work don’t get me wrong and it is hard, but it’s also natural and feeling and reminiscent of our youth!
    That being said, it IS hard to get into and especially hard to get into a routine. Maybe remember that can help is encourage others 🙂

  7. I will make an effort to adopt this attitude when I’m doing speedwork! It’s what I dread the most, and what I tend to avoid, or find excuses to cut short or skip altogether. Thank you for this! 🙂

  8. So true… when I was a kid I ran everywhere, all the time! If only I had that same energy level now…
    This post also reminds me of that episode of Friends where Rachel is embarrassed by the way Phoebe runs. We should all embrace our inner Phoebe! 🙂

  9. That is a great post and a great idea! I stress so much about garmin, heart monitor, fuel pack, water, music, earphones…that sometimes getting to the run is stressful. Once I get into the run…I do feel like a kid most of the time. You do have a great job. 🙂

  10. Great post! I love how children run and play!
    I agree with you that running has to be fun and enjoyable, even though for me that means putting on my GPS watch and looking at my pace, if that’s not fun for others then they shouldn’t do it. It’s all about finding the way to enjoy running, or any other form of exercise.

  11. I love this post. After my injury layoff I pretty much came to the same conclusion. Training can be long and hard, and you can get caught up in your paces and splits – you definitely need to remember to keep the fun in your running!

  12. Love the first and the last pictures, you look like a kid *so in tune with your post too!*. I really enjoyed reading this post because I also touched on that on my blog last week and was doing some serious thinking on what changes over the years and why fun part slowly escapes. Also, thank you very much for sharing your story, it’s good to be able to relate to your experience when you just started running ❤ xoxo

  13. Love this and I tried to do exactly this yesterday morning. I was supposed to run 6, but then really didn’t feel like it when I woke up so I told myself to just take it easy and have fun with it. And I did! It was a really pleasant run. Definitely nowhere near fast, but I had fun music and it was a nice morning to be outside. 🙂

  14. OMG I LOVE this!!! I have so many friends from work that say that to me! “I can’t run. I’ve tried and I get winded and it’s just too hard to keep going.” I am going to share this post the next time I get that comment 🙂

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