January 30, 2020

Running is just Glorified Masochism: Confessions from a Non-Runner.

Are you flustered or overwhelmed by the idea of “exercise”?

Over the years of consultations with clients or potential clients, one of the top comments that has consistently jumped out at me is, “I don’t like running.”

Somehow, many people seem to have the idea that roads to exercise eventually lead to running. And maybe all roads do, but I think they do only if you actually want to run.

If you are trying to exercise more and you are flustered or overwhelmed by the idea of running, don’t fret. You don’t have to run. Not today, not tomorrow (and not ever).

Running could be a goal. But so, too, could walking or gardening or playing with children. As can cycling or bike commuting, joining a roller derby team, swimming, kite boarding, or canoeing. So too can dancing or fencing or martial arts or surfing.

The idea that “exercise” means only one thing (running) is overwhelming, if you don’t like the thing.

It can be even more overwhelming if you don’t like most of the “things.”

Let me tell you a little secret: I was a terrible phys ed student. Terrible to the point where I remember crying in my PE teacher’s office because my PE grade was bringing my cumulative average down.

I sucked at volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, badminton, track and field, and pretty much everything else we ever did in junior high and high school.

And yet, I ended up spending my life helping people exercise.

Because I discovered something I loved. No surprise here: it wasn’t volleyball or basketball or gymnastics or badminton or anything else I did in junior high or high school. That’s no fault of my PE teacher; we just didn’t do yin yoga or Pilates or ride bikes in school.

Nobody ever told me that the main thing I loved growing up—riding my bike while listening to my George Michael tape—was “exercise.”

I thought I had to be good at ball sports and team things that were called exercise in gym class. And I wasn’t, so I hated it and felt flustered by it all.

I don’t have a secret wand to wave over your head to help you discover what you might love. But when it comes down to it, anything that moves your body counts as “exercise.” Gardening is exercise, so is walking and swimming and chasing after children. Anything vertical counts.

Permission hereby granted to set aside running (unless you love it) in order find something that inspires you to move your feet and enjoy your life.

May you never be overwhelmed or flustered again.

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