Do you swear that running’s just not for you? So did these three men, all one-time run haters, who nonetheless find themselves outdoors gutting out the miles—and actually enjoying themselves. Here’s how they all got there:
To Hate Running Less: Run with Friends
It worked for: Ross McCammon, MH special projects editor
About two years ago, after I’d put on about ten pounds, I sent a text to two friends at 8:00 on a Sunday morning, saying, “I’m going running at 9:00. Would either or both of you like to join?” Although we’d never discussed running together, I got a “Yup” from one and a “Sure” from the other. Then I got an “I don’t understand what’s going on” from the “Yup,” but—too late!—we had a plan.
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An hour later, we met up and ran five miles at the slowest pace I’ve ever run, and we’ve run virtually every weekend since then.
I’ve been a runner for seven or eight different periods of my adult life—all stretches of two or three months. Each time, I quit not because my body broke down but because my soul would. To me, running alone is crushingly boring, depressing, and—since there’s nothing to distract you from the pain—painful. I’d rather fold someone else’s laundry. I’d rather have a lip-sync battle with my dad. I’d rather walk. I hate it.
Now it’s a ritual. We’re a lot faster, but that isn’t the point. We keep it up because we want the exercise, sure. But we also don’t want to fail at the opportunity we’ve created. When else do three fathers—three people—get an hour of uninterrupted weekly conversation? That the conversation has the added benefit of regulating our breathing, keeping us at a sensible pace, means we never go too hard—and going too hard is probably one of the reasons I used to stop running.
To Hate Running Less: Exploit the Turkey Trot
It worked for: Matt Goulet, MH senior associate editor
I grew up buttressed by two brothers who had always been faster than me. The older was all-state cross-country in high school. The younger was a varsity runner as well. I was slow and hated the mild humiliation of being the merely sub-9 sibling. But as I got older, I started running more for me. Thanks to inverse fitness trajectories after high school, they got slower and I got faster. And I knew it. So when the Turkey Trot in our town rolled around a few years ago, I used that wholesome event to institute a redemptive challenge. Smoked them. It felt great.
If you’re only going to run once a year, make it a Turkey Trot. It allows you to partake in that great Thanksgiving tradition of hashing out old grievances without disrupting the peace of the Thanksgiving table. With more than 1,000 Turkey Trots (or Mashed Potato Milers or Stuffing Struts) happening annually across the country on Thanksgiving Day, it’s easy to find a local 5K to offset roughly 300 of the thousands of calories you’ll be gorging on later in the day. And if you start training now, you can build up enough speed to challenge and subsequently smoke family members you’ve been looking to one-up for years.
To Hate Running Less: Don’t Run. Glide. Bound, and Sometimes Walk
It worked for: Bill Strickland, editorial director of Runner’s World and Bicycling
As the editorial director of a group that includes Runner’s World, I spend more days than not surrounded by real runners, so what I am saying to you is not opinion but lived and learned fact: Real runners rarely seem to be running. They glide. They bound. They kiss the earth with their tippy-toes as a courtesy to gravity rather than a necessity of physics. I run as if I had three too many shots and got myself into a brawl with a much bigger opponent and am already paying for it.
Yet: I run. When I’m crunched for time, It’s more efficient than cycling (my sport of choice), and it’s easier to manage when you’re traveling. It’s more appealing to me than gym workouts, because it feels more like an adventure—gets me outside and gives me a chance to immerse myself in whatever community I happen to find myself in.
I highly recommend getting the shit kicked out of you by a run. But you can’t be afraid to walk. If you only run for as long as you can actually run, you’re not going to be out there long enough to do yourself much good. When I started, the only way I could do a 30–minute “run” was to run for a few minutes, walk a few, then run some more. Walking is not only okay but pretty much mandatory. Real runners know this and won’t shame you for not running while you run. Anyone else can go suck it, because they’re not even in the damn fight.
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