The Secret to Becoming a Runner

You’ve always wanted to be a runner, but you’re struggling to get out the door. Running is easier than you think. If I can do this, you can do this. Just keep going.

Photo by Zac Ong,

There she is again. You see her every day on your morning commute. The runner girl, effortlessly gliding along. She makes it look so easy. You notice her ponytail bouncing, her flat stomach, her thin physique. Instead of admiration, you feel envy, and then disgust. You almost hate her for being so perfect. In your mind, there’s no possible way you could ever be a runner and look like that.

Oh, you’ve tried. Yes, you’ve tried. But, when you run you feel like a blubbering walrus, and you can only last about 3 minutes before all the contents of your stomach end up on the street. You want nothing more than to be a runner, but you’ve accepted that it’s just not in the cards. You wanted it so bad.

And you gave up.

Here’s the thing: you can be a runner. Yes, even you. It’s not as difficult as you’ve been led to believe. Trust me, you don’t look as bad as you think, and no one is really paying attention to you, anyway.

I’ve been there before, we all have. Even runner girl. The only difference between you and runner girl is that she didn’t give up. She kept going. Success and failure are on the same road. Success is just a little further down the road.

To get there, you have to keep going.

Running is my passion. Running is my identity. It has made me who I am today. Running has given me life, almost killed me, and brought me back to life again. It’s my medicine for so many ailments.

I feel it is not only my duty, but my obligation to introduce others to this wonderful activity. I want to share it with everyone. Every person should experience the joys of running. I will nauseatingly gush about it to any unsuspecting soul willing to lend an ear.

It’s true, running isn’t for everyone. Although I constantly try to convince them otherwise, many of my friends and family members absolutely despise running.

And that’s okay.

But, if you’re reading this, there’s a runner in you just waiting to break free. If you want to uncage your inner athlete, keep reading. My experience may provide the motivation needed to kick you out the door.

I’m an athletic guy. I’ve been consumed with sports since I was old enough to walk. But, for some reason, distance running was not something I really wanted to do. Ever. To be honest, running sucked. It was a form of punishment in the other sports I played.

At practices, my coaches routinely gave out laps and suicide drills like politicians giving out empty promises. “Running helps with endurance and conditioning!”. Yeah sure, whatever, coach. Running was a miserable activity in which I had no desire to willingly partake.

Sports instilled a sense of competitiveness in me. I’ve always had a need to compete. It often gets the best of me, and I always thought my insatiable hunger for competition would eventually lead to my downfall. Turns out, it was my competitive nature that led me to running.

This love affair began about nine years ago. My cousin started distance running and it was all he talked about, ad nauseam. He boasted that he was training for a popular 8k road race in our hometown known as the Crazy 8’s. After I made fun of him for willingly subjecting himself to this acute form of torture, he challenged me and said there was no way I could beat him. That was all it took.

That was my one thing. I was all in.

The race was only a couple of months away when this challenge was bestowed upon me and, given the fact that I had never ran a race in my life, I was a little worried about how it might go down. Yet, I was determined. Nothing was going to stop me. I had never lost to this chump in anything, and I wasn’t about to start.

In the beginning, I had no clue what I was doing. With the help of Dr. Google, I devised a crude training routine. The race was eight kilometers, or about five miles. Because my body was not acclimated to running long distances (a.k.a. out of shape), I had to start small and work up to that distance.

The plan was to run about two miles, three times a week. To say the experience was awful would be an understatement. At first, I could barely make it half a mile before I had to stop and walk. My lungs were on fire, I literally felt like death. I hated every second of it.

I kept going.

About a month in, my training had progressed really well, so I stepped it up and ran the full five-mile course for the first time. Again, I felt like death. Again, I hated every second of it. Again, I wanted to quit.

Again, I kept going.

When race day finally arrived, I was ready. The race itself was brutal but, somehow, one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I completed the race in 37 minutes. It’s something I’ll always remember. I’m not bragging or anything, but I beat my cousin by a good two minutes. I hope he reads this just so I can rub it in one more time.

Something weird happened during this whole process. I noticed that running wasn’t absolute misery for me anymore. It became a habit that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was healthier, had a better outlook on life, and had tons of energy. Physically and mentally, I felt better than I had ever felt in my life.

After making all that progress and beasting the Crazy 8’s, I couldn’t just stop running.

So I kept going.

In the years that followed, I completed numerous races of various distances, including several half marathons. I haven’t made it up to a full marathon just yet, but one of these days I want to run Boston.

I’ll keep going.

A race was what I needed to get me going, but running doesn’t have to be about racing. The simplicity of running is the sport’s greatest attribute. You don’t need special skills or expensive equipment. To get started, all you need is some determination and a pair of shoes.

Here is a guarantee: your journey won’t be linear, it will be full of obstacles. Like anything worth doing in life, running won’t be easy. It takes dedication, consistency, and perseverance. It takes grit. It’s going to suck. Like really suck. You’re going to hate it. You’ll want to quit.

Keep going.

Growth doesn’t happen in comfort zones. Growth happens in suffering. Reach down inside of you and find the one thing you can go to when every muscle in your body is screaming for you to stop. My competitive nature is my one thing. Find your one thing.

The one thing that keeps you going.

Soon, running will become a habit, then a lifestyle, and then your identity. The transformation you’ll see in yourself will be intoxicating. The suffering will be worth it.

Trust me, keep going.

Running is far more mental than physical, and the benefits are just as much mental as they are physical. I owe my life to running. It has made me a better husband, a better father, and a better person overall. Running has taught me self-discipline and given me a sense of accomplishment unrivaled by anything I’ve ever done.

If you’re feeling stagnant and want to improve your life, lace up those kicks and just get out there. Put one foot in front of the other. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can do this. I’m a nobody, I’m nothing special. The only thing is, I kept going.

Just keep going.

Husband. Father. Runner. Writer for hire. Am I a hero? I can’t really say. But yes.

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