“Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” Zig Ziglar
I love Zig Ziglar. He’s corny and old-fashioned, but he is spot on in his presentations. He makes me laugh and he makes me think. Anyone who can do both of those things is more than all right in my book. I listen to his podcasts often when I’m running, and recently he made the comment that I quoted above. My initial reaction was, “What? That’s not the way I learned that!” But, as he talked, and I began to reflect on what he said, I realized he was right. His point was that when we start something new, we are seldom going to be good at it at the beginning. It may take years of doing something before we finally begin to do something well, or even just do it better than before. I used to limit myself to only pursuing things that I felt accomplished at, things that I didn’t have to work hard to do well. That list is pretty short. Eating and sleeping are about the only things I can do well with little effort.
It seems I’ve encountered a lot of people lately who say they can’t run. They’ll marvel over the fact that I train for and race half marathons (remember these are people who have never seen how badly I actually run), then they sigh and say, “I wish I could run.” My response to that is almost always the same. If you really want to be a runner, you can be one. There are very few things which truly disqualify you from becoming a runner. Just look at the roster of any race and you will see many, many people running with disabilities far worse than your own. There are, of course, some disqualifiers, but search yourself, talk to many doctors, do some research if you think you have one of those. It just might be that you can be a runner, if that is something you truly want. Running isn’t for everyone. I have a friend about my age who does competitive dancing. That’s something I would do really badly for a very long time if I took it up. But, as beautiful as it is to watch, I don’t have the desire to become a dancer. Other than around the house and to embarrass my daughter, that is. It’s the same with running. It may not be for you. But, if you want it, you can have it. Here are a few tips that will hopefully set you on your way.
Know that it’s going to be really easy. All you really need is a good pair of running shoes, comfy clothes, a safe place to run, and a good sports bra. Men, you’re exempt from that last one. There is a lot of icing to go on the cake after you establish some good running habits, but to begin, that’s all you need. Don’t worry about pace or distance. Concern yourself with working up to running 30 minutes. Don’t even start a running program until you can walk 30 minutes. After that, start sprinkling in some 20-30 second running spurts. Easy does it, what’s your rush? Before you know it, you’ll be running 30 minutes and ready to challenge yourself more.
Know that it’s going to be really hard. You don’t ever have to race to be a runner. You never have to run a certain speed, or go a certain distance to be runner. You just have to run. But, if you’re like most people, once you get the hang of it and start running, you begin to want to test your limits. I read a great quote this week: Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down. This has been that year for me. Testing boundaries, pushing limits. Times I thought were long out of my reach are dangling just in front of my nose and I can’t wait to grab them. I’m still slow and steady. But, it’s been tremendously fun and highly motivational to add some workouts that are increasing my strength and speed. Know that when you start to do that, though, it’s going to hurt. I don’t mean hurt to the point of injury, but hurting while you’re working out. When you’re done, you’ll have the most spectacular sense of accomplishment. I’ve discovered that really helps with the pain. 😉
Get over yourself. If you’re worried about how you’re going to look, or that you don’t look like all those cute little runners in their chic little running outfits, get over it. Let me tell you something that God has taught me through running. Worrying about those things means that you are prideful. Yep, that’s what I said. I would have told you 10 years ago that pride was not one of my sins, but God has enlightened me over the years that indeed I do have a problem with it. Everybody has to start somewhere. Throw on some comfy clothes and get your butt in gear. I can guarantee you that, just like in life, there will be people out there who consider you a hero and there will be people out there who consider you crazy. Doesn’t matter. Just do it. (Wow, I’m really throwing in a lot of athletic gear slogans.)
In the spirit of becoming less prideful, I’m including my race picture from my first half marathon in January of 2010. Hope it makes you feel just a little bit better about how you look when you run. In my defense, it was 19 degrees at the starting line and started snowing on mile 7. And, don’t think my eyes are closed because I’m praying. Although, I may have been. But, be assured it was more “please let this be over soon,” than some lofty prayer for world peace.
And finally, remember that running is more mental than physical. When I was growing up my dad had a saying, “Can’t never could do anything.” I never fully understood that until I became a runner. If you believe you can, you can. It may take a lot longer than you want it to, and it will certainly hurt a lot more than you want it to, but you can do it. Never, never say can’t. You have permission to fail as many times as you need to. I still have bad runs. Fortunately, though, these days, the good ones far outnumber the bad. That keeps me lacing up and heading out to try it again another day.