Have you ever heard someone say, "I'd run, but..." Or even worse, were you once a runner, but now you find yourself telling others, "I'd run, but..." Well, except for a very few medical conditions, there are very few acceptable "buts."
1. I'm too slow—Think again. There's almost always someone a little slower than you. But even if you are the last one to finish the local 5K, you're still faster than the non-runners who didn't enter the race. Be proud of your accomplishments. No mater how long it takes you to run that mile, you've run a mile. That's a great achievement! You have to start somewhere. I've read where elite marathon runners have the utmost respect for the 5- to 6-hour marathoners because they can't image making themselves run that long. They have high respect for the commitment and determination it takes to run for that long.
2. It's too cold—You'd be surprised at the advances in running apparel these days to help keep you warm. To stave off the cold, dress in layers. If you're envisioning the little boy from the movie, The Christmas Story who has on so many layers that he can barely move and has to pee, think again. The layers no longer have to be bulky. With moisture-wicking warmth-retaining fabrics such as micro-fleece and Under Armour's Cold Gear base layer garments, you can stay surprisingly warm with just one, two, or three thin layers depending on the temperature. A pair of running tights will keep the gams warm and if you're a little shy or don't feel comfortable wearing just the tights, throw a pair of running short over top for a little more modesty. The also make looser-fitting tights as well as running pants. Still not convinced? Run inside on a treadmill at a gym or buy one for the home.
3. It's too hot—Just as with the cold-wear gear, there have been vast improvements with running apparel for the summer months. Today's technical fabrics such as Under Armour's Heat Gear garments whisk moisture away from the body helping to keep you cooler and dryer. Still not convinced? Run inside on a treadmill at a gym or buy one for the home.
4. I can't afford it—You don't have to spend a fortune on high-tech running gear (hot or cold). Walmart, Target, Sears, Sports Authority as well as other "big-box" stores carry a variety of affordable high-tech running apparel. Target carries a wide assortment of Champion brand running clothes for men, women, and kids. The August 2009 issue of Runner's World has a special feature on finding affordable running gear. [Click here] to check out a video clip that follows two Runner's World editors as they try to each buy a complete running outfit (including shoes) from Sports Authority for under $100. (Note: There's a funny RunningSuperFans ad from Brooks at the beginning of the clip; the Runner's World shopping adventure follows.)
5. I'm overweight—You have to be realistic. At first, you're not going to be able to run fast or far, but you can become a runner. The speed and distance will come over time. You need to start slow and work your way up. CoolRunning.com has a great beginning running program—Couch-to-5K Running Plan. I monitor several running social sites and I see a lot of new runners using this program who speak highly of the plan. Check it out.
6. I'm too old—Think again. I just saw a profile of a lady on the running social site Athlinks who is 82 and has finished a 5K in 40 minutes. That's about a 13-minute mile. She's 82! Amazing! I checked and there are over 560 runners (male and female) age 65 and over on Athlinks. Keep in mind that that's just one running social site and that count only includes runners who've joined that site. That's amazing! The first time I ran the NYC marathon, the oldest runner in the race was 95. He finished the race in about 5.5hrs! That's amazing! Running is a great way to increase bone density and strength which is crucial as we age. For more about running as you get older [click here].
7. I'm scared to run alone—There are lots of ways to meet and run with other runners of all ability levels. Check with your local independent running store and see if they host any weekly group runs. Also, ask them if there are any running clubs in the community. Then check out some of the many online running social sites such as dailymile, Athinks, seriousrunning, Runners' Lounge, Running Network. On many of these sites you'll be able to locate other runners in your state and/or city. Also, see if there are colleagues at work interested in running. Start a lunch-time or after-work running group. See if your HR department will support the group with some type of incentive program.
8. I have bad knees—Check with your doctor first, but running can actually strengthen your joints and muscles. Make sure you have a good pair of cushioned, supportive running shoes and make sure you're not running constantly on hard surfaces such as concrete. Start slow and take it easy. Alternate running days with some non-weight-bearing cross-training exercise such as swimming, riding a stationary bike, or using an elliptical machine to help strengthen your knees and increase your endurance.
9. It hurts my back—This could be due to a variety of reasons. Best to check in with your doctor first. Also, stand sideways in front of a full-length mirror and take a look at your profile. How's your posture? Do you slump? If the answer is yes, you probably need to strengthen your core. Strong core muscles help to hold in and protect your vital organs was well as provide you with good posture. If the core support is not there, running may indeed cause pain in your lower back. That doesn't mean you can't run. Just means you need to strengthen your core. [Click here] to check out some exercises to help strengthen your core and help support your back. Also, check out the type of surface you're running on. If the majority of your routes are on concrete (sidewalks) this can be extremely jarring to your entire body, especially your back. [Click here] to find out more on good and bad running surfaces.
10. Not enough time!—The lack of time is probably the most given excuse and sometimes a very valid one, but not always. Being the father of three I know just how hard it is to fit in running, much less something like the time needed to train for a marathon. But it can be done. Actually, finding time to work-in your weekly runs will help you better deal with the stress of your hectic schedule. Often a person will think that running (or any exercise) will take too much time or will eat into their freetime, but 20-30 minutes 3-4 times a week is enough to really benefit your body. That 20-30 minutes can be a 2- to 4-mile run early in the morning (before work), during lunch, or after work. I've found that if I stop by the park right after work to run, it's much better than going home first. Try scheduling a run like an appointment. Just make it a part of your day. Also, I've found that if you post your running schedule for all to see, it tends to be respected more by the rest of the family. The kids can see the calendar and think, "Oh, okay, Dad's running after work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and has an early long run on Saturday." It also helps everyone in the family see that it's something important. If it's on the calendar in our house, it's important. Another thing to do is to keep a journal for a week of your daily routine. Record everything you do and the time it takes you to do each thing for the full week—eating breakfast, getting ready for work, driving to work, watching TV, etc. Then after the week is over, go back and evaluate the week and highlight the things that either didn't have to be done, or are not that important to you. Next, decide if those times would be good times to fit in a run instead. Give it a try, you might just see that you have more time than you think you did.
Note: Please consult your doctor before beginning any running or exercise program.