Want to Start Running This Year?
This article will answer questions like:
- What is the start-up process that will give me the best chance of success if I want to start running?
- What are some reasons people run?
- Why does Vern run?
This article will not answer questions like:
Does “running away from something” count?
People start running for many reasons.
Most of us see running as a tool to keep us under a certain weight that we have in mind as a goal. Some people run to compete. Some people become runners to gain strength and endurance in other sports they’re playing since running has great cross-over benefits.
I’ve run most of my life. I’ve also run for many reasons. My reasons for running seem to change over the years.
I’ve been running since I was six years old. My mother signed me up to play soccer that year, and that set the stage for the next twelve years. I played in regular leagues during the summers and the fall. I grew up in Pennsylvania, so the winters were too cold to play, and a time of rest. I’m so glad there was a rest time!
Up until I was eighteen years old, I only ran when I played soccer. I ran nearly every day. If it wasn’t practice, it was a game. If it wasn’t a game, it was a basketball game or an indoor soccer game that some friends and I put together. I didn’t run for pleasure because I ran so much for sport.
Running was an integral part of my life, though it wasn’t for fun, it was out of necessity for playing the sports I was involved in. The idea of running a marathon never entered my mind up to this point.
In my twenties, I became a triathlete and competed in many races including bicycle and swimming races. I loved to exercise, probably because I had already become pretty good at it since I already had twelve years of intense training behind me. In my twenties I really came to love the competition and running, exercise of all sorts became pure pleasure in itself.
In my thirties, I ran to keep my weight down. I am 5’11” and my usual weight in my twenties was 165 lbs. In my thirties, I crept up as high as 180 lbs. and I didn’t feel too good about me at that weight. I ran to lose weight so I could keep eating pizza and spaghetti.
In my late thirties and now – my late forties, I asked myself why I’m still running every other day.
The answer surprised me.
I’m not running for health. I’m not running to lose weight. I’m down to 155 right now and feel great about my current body weight. I’m not running to compete. Besides a yearly run up the mountain here in Southern Thailand I haven’t raced in years. I’m not running to look good. I’m not running to avoid death by staying healthy. I’m not at all concerned about death anymore.
My answer to myself for “WHY” I was running was really surprising!
I’m running because when I run, I feel a control that is entirely self-generated and self-perpetuating.
I love control. We all do I guess, but I really love it. I’m not speaking of control over others – I really don’t like to exert my influence over others if they have no want to change. I am a horrible salesperson. I don’t sell well.
I don’t like control over the person I love. In fact, I abhor it. I think that would be a horrible relationship in which I wanted to control what we did and when we did it, how much we did it… who we saw, what we ate, what movies we saw. That’s not a relationship to me.
The control I feel when I run is something entirely different. It is a very positive feeling. It is an experience where I have told myself what I’m going to do, I have scheduled it, and I am going to do it. There’s no doubt of that. I am in control of my mind that has its own desires that sometimes show up right before I go running.
Making myself run, insisting on running regardless of backlash from other thoughts I’m having, is a form of discipline I guess. I don’t accept the emotional mind’s excuses about the body being tired, a little bit sore, having better things to do, etc. There is nothing better to do because I already told myself I’m going to exercise. I like to show my emotional mind that my logical mind is the boss. I don’t want to hear any whining about what else the body could be doing.
It sounds almost schizophrenic, right? Hey, wait a second, I did have a great aunt that lost her mind in her eighties… So, well, maybe I’ve got that to face later on. I’ll think more about it then!
There is no question, the body is running every other day – whether it’s raining or sunny, hot or cool. It’s running. That’s what we do every other day. There’s nothing to talk about – no questions, no excuses. The body is running on that schedule until I decide it isn’t. It’s not a decision that will be made before a run when the mind wants to bail out ‘just for this one time.’ The decision to stop, if there ever is one, needs to be made with some advanced planning. I don’t think I’ll ever find a good reason to stop – so it’s likely to continue.
Beginning to Run
As you start to run, you’ll find out, it’s quite a game you’re playing. I think I have a good way for you to get started if you decide that is what you want. As I said you can run for many reasons. But, you only need one.
Before I start to run on a schedule I’ve created, I know the body might not feel like it. In fact, it probably doesn’t.
Why would it? It hasn’t been running before and it needs some time to get into the routine – to condition the muscles, ligaments, tendons, breathing system and energy stores to meet the demands of running.
I like to trick the body and the mind into it.
If my logical mind told “me” that I’m starting to run again, naturally, the emotional mind and the body will come up with excuses.
I don’t listen.
Instead, I convince the body and emotional mind that it’s nothing big. “We’re not really going to run,” I tell them.
There’s not going to be any competition. We’re not running races. I’m not starting triathlons again! The body is relieved at this. The emotional mind doesn’t believe it though because it has been through this charade before.
I then tell them… “We’re going for a walk in the park. That’s it. We’re walking. Any running that takes place is just a bonus. In fact, we’re NOT running unless everything is a green light and all three of us (Logical Mind, Emotional Mind, and Body) are ready to go.”
I go on, “There’s no reason to run yet. We’re starting out. We start out walking. Regardless if the logical mind wants to run 3-5 miles immediately like it used to, we are just walking the first couple times.”
So – going to the park is not in question. We’re going.
But, whether we run, and how much we run, that IS a question. And, it doesn’t really matter since the logical part of my mind already won the game by making us all go to the park when I said we were going to. The logical mind is in control and that makes it happy. It’s good for me to keep this part of the mind happy since it seems to be the one that is most responsible for my state of mind. I need to nurture my logical mind and make it smile more than the other parts.
We Arrive at the Park to RUN
‘We’ meaning, my logical mind, my emotional mind, and my body.
We stretch a little bit. We see how the body is feeling. Stretching the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, back, lower back, groin, triceps. We swing the arms a bit as if warming up for swimming. An inventory of the body is taken as I’m stretching lightly. If there is some pain or a lot of tightness in the legs or even in the neck – I’ll likely just walk that day. No sense pulling anything. Just starting out you can expect to pull some muscle, nerve, ligament… something, unless you’re very careful and attentive to the body.
I do make the body go somewhere, but I don’t make it do something if it’s not ready. Likewise when I was competing – I was very aware of every little pain in my legs, arms, back, neck. A little pain can quickly become a major pain that knocks you out of the running game for two weeks or more. Then you need to start all over and re-motivate yourself. That should be avoided when at all possible.
So we’re at the park and we start walking. When I’m just beginning a new running program, I go to a place where there are very few people. Usually, there is nobody around. That’s good for a couple of reasons.
Number 1 – I am embarrassed that I’m not running five to six-minute miles anymore. I’m running like ten-minute miles now! That’s what it feels like anyway. I’m not sure exactly what my pace is because I’ve never timed myself running so slow. What is the point? I know I’m doing grandpa miles and I don’t want anyone to see me doing no better than a senior citizen.
Number 2 – I am walking. Sometimes I’m running. I’m running until I don’t feel that it’s fun anymore and then I’m walking until my Logical Mind makes the body and Emotional Mind realize that there’s really no reason not to just keep running. It’s FUN. There is nobody around to be critiquing my progress. I like that.
If it’s not fun then I’m walking. Seriously. You must make exercising fun. If it isn’t fun, then you’re doing something that you shouldn’t continue.
If you’re running – walk for a bit. In Thailand, there is no shyness about this. They run 100 yards and walk 200. They might alternate like this for a mile or they might go five miles like that. There is no competition among Thais when they are at a public park running with a hundred other people. They aren’t embarrassed to walk for a while!
That’s where I got this idea, Thailand. If nobody else is embarrassed, why would I be?
No matter what, it’s fun to make yourself go to a park and walk around and look at people and give yourself some quiet time to think about things on your mind. It frees the mind up from doing work and logical things and gives it some space.
Your emotional mind is also happy because it’s seeing people and experiencing the outdoors. The body is happy because it feels like it is accomplishing something even just by walking one mile. The logical mind is happy because it knows this is all leading to something. It is leading to being able to run longer and longer distances and more feeling of control over the emotional mind and body! The logical mind is really psyched to be out there even if we’re not running all the time. It will come… it will come.
Don’t let yourself have any expectations about what you’re going to do when you go to the park. Tell your body and your Emotional Mind that you’re going to the park to give the brain a REST! Look at it as a positive – a reward. That way, you’re definitely going. You deserve a reward, right? That’s what I do… it makes it so much easier.
Just go to a park where there are not three hundred runners and just walk. That’s it… walk. If you feel like it, run for a bit. Only run if it’s fun. If your mind or body is really rebelling and starts telling you – this is no fun at all, stop and walk. Don’t run again until you really feel like it and all parts of the body and mind are “GO!”
When you stick to a schedule of going to the park for a period of time you’ll notice that you’re running more and walking less. It might take a few weeks, or you might jump into it sooner. There will still be days that you don’t think all systems are “go” and you walk the entire time. No worries. You might walk for twenty minutes and decide that your body isn’t up to it. Maybe a muscle or one of your joints is feeling worse as you walk. No matter, go home. Don’t put any requirements on your visit to the park.
The whole thing about exercise is that it must be fun. Don’t do it if it isn’t fun. If you go at a very gradual pace, I think you’ll find it is fun. If you try running for two months and you just don’t like it – even if you’re running ONLY when it’s fun for you and walking the rest of the time – you might want to switch to a different exercise. Or, you might want to realize that walking can do it for you too. Whatever reason you had for wanting to start running – can be the same reason to get on a walking program instead. No worries, don’t set up something in your mind that says:
I MUST BE A RUNNER!
That’s ridiculous musturbation. There are runners, walkers, tennis players, racquetball players, bicycle riders, hikers, climbers, soccer players, swimmers, surfers, bodyboarders, windsurfers, kitesurfers, stationary bike riders, stairmasters, rollerbladers, and skateboarders. Exercise is exercise. I don’t think it matters much WHY you are exercising – you can get the same things from any of the sports mentioned.
For me, running is special, because it’s just my body and mind against the elements. I am making the body run up hills, down hills, through woods, into areas I’ve not been. Running is an adventure. It’s accomplishment. It’s power. It’s control.
Did you ever hear of fartlek running?
I’ll have to write more about those fun types of running in another article.
For me, running is pure bliss! I often imagine that I’m passing people as I run. I use this imagery that I’m passing all the people that I want to surpass with my business goals and my personal goals. I’m blowing right by them because some of them are standing still. They’re standing still because they probably don’t run. I see them up ahead of me and they’re going so slow… I’m going slow too – but you know what? I’m passing them!
This is another reason I like to run when there’s nobody around… I talk to them as I pass them, these imaginary business competitors. Tim Ferris, Gary Vaynerchuk, Hugh Howey, Lee Child.
I’m the master of this race… and there can be no other winner.
I am ALWAYS the WINNER!
Best of Life!