Out There: “But I Hate Running”

Photo: N.C. Winters

There are a lot of things I could be doing instead of running. I could nap. Or watch reality TV. Or… 

During a recent visit to my hometown of Stevens Point, Wis., I bumped into people I hadn’t seen in quite some time. After the obligatory “married/pregnant/dead” catch- up of mutual friends and acquaintances, the discussion would turn to how much different I look from the last time they saw me five years and many pounds ago.

“You’ve lost so much weight!” they exclaimed. “What did you do?”

“I took up running!” I proudly declared.

“Oh, good for you! I tried that once, but I hate running.”

Me too, buddy. Me too.

I’m going to come right out and say it: Running sucks. I don’t look pretty while doing it. It makes me smell bad. And sometimes it makes me cry. I get frustrated, uncomfortable, and whiny; these emotions are expressed through curse words in inappropriate places, usually in the presence of puppies, small children, and/or the elderly.

Running makes my knees hurt, unless, of course, I take extra time every day for strength training and foam rolling. I have to plan my schedule, my meals, and my wardrobe around the workout of the day, and even then I still have to allot ten to thirty minutes to willing my butt out the door.

There are a lot of things I could be doing instead of running. I could nap. Or watch reality TV. Or finally create a Pinterest account. Or organize my closets. Or learn to cook a dish that is actually edible. Or find out how many bowls of coconut-pineapple swirl I can down at the all-you-can-eat frozen yogurt bar. You can roll your eyes all you want, but that stuff is addictive.

But I can do all of those things. I know, because I did them for years. I was so good at napping, I considered turning pro. I could recap the previous season’s “American Idol” and “Bachelorette” contestants at the snap of a finger. And my closets? Color-coded, organized by size, and always carrying a light smell of lavender.

I also had the weight, health and mental stability of someone who watched a lot of TV and took a lot of trips to the frozen yogurt bar. I had friends who would evangelize about the joys of running, but I hated running.

Once I finally put aside my disdain and started running, I understood what my friends meant when they said it sucked, but they still loved it. For 25 years, I was alive but I wasn’t really living. It’s kind of like having an Aston Martin sitting in a garage; what’s the point of having such a sweet ride if you don’t take it out to see how fast it can go?

It’s that very notion that’s so hard for runners to convey to those who don’t pound the pavement. Until someone really, truly experiences what it’s like to run—nay, to live—they won’t get why we do it. So for every person who tells us they hate running, we smile, nod, and wink knowingly: “Me too, buddy. Me, too.”

This column first appeared in the December 2012 issue of Competitor magazine. 

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About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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