Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Why Run if You Hate to Run?

I receive fitness and running articles from the New York Times on a regular basis. Recently this article by Jen Miller appeared in my inbox: What if I Hate Running?

This struck me as kind of odd. Why would you run if you hated running? Why does this article even need to be written? There are so many other activities you can do to stay fit--why do one that isn't enjoyable to you? 


I Googled the question what if you hate running? and was stunned at the number of articles that appeared in my feed. Even Cosmopolitan weighed in with the article How to Become a Runner Even if You Think You Hate Running. The subtitle stated: "Build a runner's body--and bragging rights--in weeks". I just had to read this one. I figured Cosmo wouldn't let me down. Because it was Cosmo, I hoped for some tips how running was just like s*e*x. Maybe they'd share how the runners' high was just like having the big "O", only on the run. Or maybe they'd even tell you how to have the big "O" on the run. I mean, it's Cosmo! Maybe they'd even feature Suzy Favor Hamilton with some tips! But no. They offered a "how-to" start running plan but that was it.


Cosmo, you disappoint me. How was that article going to get running haters to become running lovers? Clickbait much?

After reading several of those how to run even if you hate running articles, I didn't find any answers to my question. None of them told you how to stop hating running. Help me to understand this. Because I sure as heck wouldn't run if I hated it! Running is too hard for that.

For example, people ask me all the time why I don't participate in triathlons. I love to cycle and I love to run. But you know what? I loathe swimming. Even though it would probably be good for me to swim, I just don't like it. I've tried it and no. So why suffer through something that I don't enjoy? What's the point of that? I don't want to swim. I have no desire to swim. End of story.

If you are a Running Hater, you need to ask yourself why you want to run. What is your motivation? Do you have FOMO? Do you run because all the cool kids run? Do you love the idea of running and collecting a medal at the finish? Are you looking to lose weight and/or get in shape? Do you have problems that you want/need to run away from but they keep finding you?


If you really truly want to run, saying that you "hate" running isn't helpful. Actually, saying that you hate anything isn't really helpful. Think about something you say you really hate to do. For me, that would be cleaning the bathrooms in my house. I know I have to do it, but I admit that I put it off until I can't stand it anymore. I don heavy rubber gloves and use toxic concoctions to remove the soap scum, the unmentionable ick, and the germs. It's nauseating. But when I'm done, there is the satisfaction of completing a very unpleasant task.

Is that how you want to feel about running? That you "have to do it?" That running is a nauseating, unpleasant task, like scrubbing toilets? Ok, I'll admit it. Sometimes it is like that. I've had those runs where everything hurts and I'm trying not to vomit. We all have them. But then there is that amazing run. The run where everything feels right, where we feel like we are flying. Sometimes we even have the big "O" of running, the runners' high.

I've never had any of that happen when I clean the bathrooms. That job never gets better. Think about that.


Still with me? Here's some food for thought:
  • Maybe you "hate" running because when you were younger, your coaches used running as punishment for bad behavior or poor performance. That's a shame because running isn't a torture treatment. My coach Becky uses burpees for punishment, for when I complain or apologize. The funny thing is, I've gotten better at burpees and I don't mind them so much anymore. Don't tell her, though. She'll find some new punishment for me.
  • Maybe you hate running because when you ran, you sprinted down the road like you were being chased. This is what Cocoa does when we let her outside. She doesn't get very far, running all out like that and most likely, neither do you. Start out slow. So slow that you feel like you are walking. Run a little and then walk. Soon enough, you'll find that those walk breaks become less frequent. Or maybe they even disappear.
  • Maybe you tried to go too far and ran out of gas. Set a reasonable goal for each run. It can be time or distance. For brand new runners, starting out with time is better, mentally, than setting a distance. Ease into running. Don't run too far or too often. Make sure you eat properly and bring fuel along.
  • Maybe you thought running was boring. Try listening to motivating music or podcasts. I got 99 problems but motivating music ain't one. Check out the playlists on the Tuesday Tunes linkup for some ideas.
  • Maybe on your runs, you wear old sweats and old shoes. There's a saying: "look good, feel good". There's also another saying, "fake it until you make it". Wear bright, colorful fun running clothes. TJMaxx and Marshalls can fix you up with low cost, stylish gear. Act the part and dress like the runner you want to be! After a while, you'll believe it.
  • Maybe you don't like to run alone. Surround yourself with others who run. Join a running group at a local running store. Or find a group online. Read running blogs.
Of course, maybe you don't want to do any of these things. Maybe you're looking for an easy out. Excuses much? Saying you hate something is sure a heck of a lot easier than actually working at it.


Do you still want to run? Yes? Then step away from the hating and reframe how you think about running. You don't have to love it, but you sure don't have to hate running.

When I find myself in a negative mindset, like on a bad run, I shift gears and look for the positive. I remind myself that I'm lucky I get to run. I pat myself on the back for every mile finished, like putting money in the bank. I look forward to the satisfaction of completing my run. Crossing the finish line is the ultimate reward.

I'm not going to lie. Running is hard. And still, I love it.

Do you tell people you hate running? If so, I'm curious...why do you run? If you don't hate running, what do you to motivate yourself when you're feeling like running is a chore, like cleaning the bathroom?

I'm linking up with Debbie, Susie, Lora, and Rachel for Coaches Corner. So much good advice here...check it out! Also with our hostesses Nicole, Annemarie, Jen, and Michelle at Wild Workout Wednesday!






91 comments :

  1. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with running. While I'm not the most graceful runner (that's an understatement!), I run because I know it's good for me, and also because it's hard for me. If I only did things that came easy to me, life would be boring, so running is something that pushes me outside of my comfort zone.

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    1. At this point in time, running is so important to me that there's no room for any kind of dislike! You are right, running pushes us out of our comfort zone. For sure, running is going to get me through the ups and downs of having a chronic illness.

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  2. Ha I love how you went to Cosmo for inspiration lol. I hated running as a child but then fell in love with it much later in life. I have no idea why people would run if they hated it. There are so many ways to get fit if you don't like running. Interesting!

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    1. I didn't hate running, ever, per se--what I hated was being forced to run, like in gym class. But running for fun? We did so much of that as kids.

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  3. I used to be someone who said I hated running, but for a lot of the excuses that you listed. But once I started doing it properly, building up slowly I found such a passion for it.

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    1. Conditioning helps make an activity much more pleasant, that is true! I would say when I first started running, I thought it was so hard.

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  4. It is possible to stop the hate. I was one who "hated" running because of the way it made me feel - like death. :) But really it was because of the most of the reasons you listed above. I needed to build up endurance and I needed to start off WAY slower. I think everyone who wants to get active, and doesn't have physical issues to prevent it, should at least build up to a 5k through a Couch to 5K program. If after they complete that they still hate running then yes, by God, go do something else. But I would wager a lot of people might find out, like I did, that running isn't so bad. Over time I did find out that I hated anything longer than 15k runs so I've adjusted my running to be shorter distances and I supplement with other activities. But I'll always be thankful for my trainer who worked with and pushed me to get through my first full mile of running without stopping.

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    1. People ask me how to start running and I always tell them to try one of the couch to 5k programs. I also tell them to go slow and not be afraid to walk.

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  5. This is an awesome article Wendy! I always wondered why people who "hate"
    Running do it, when they could do other things to stay healthy. My husband doesn't really like running but he does it religiously to stay in shape and he doesn't complain about it, his choice to continue to run. I think having a positive mindset absolutely makes a difference!!! Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. That's exactly the point--why tell yourself you hate something? It's never going to get better.

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  6. Never hated running. I thought I would so never tried. Once I did, I loved it from the first time out.

    Of course, I hate the cold and the wind. I also maybe be disappointed in my finish time.

    But no, never hated it. I wouldn't do it if I did.

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    1. It helps that you were so active and fit--you were a natural!

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    2. I don't know about fit but I did play tennis for 10 years before I started running.

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  7. Why would you do something voluntary, like running, if you hated it? There are plenty of other ways to exercise out there, and life is too short to struggle with something like that. And I'm right with you on the triathlons - they are a big NOPE for me because of the swimming. And that's OK. I don't go around saying I hate triathlons...I just don't do them. Seems pretty simple to me, but then I'm not surprised the media is trying to complicate things.

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  8. I heart this, so much. I will never understand why people do things that they seriously don't like. I'm a big believer in try it, give it a solid chance, and see what you think.
    I love what running gives me. I love the rhythm of it, the escapism. Does that mean that every run is amazing? Nope. But the rewards far outweigh the negatives.

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    1. Actually, most runs aren't amazing. But then you have that one--the one that brings you back for more.

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  9. Wow, what great insight! I will admit there were times that I was NOT motivated at all to go out and run but I do like to race and I can't even begin to tell you how much that has enriched my life. I guess it's one of those things that you have to work for the reward. Anything worth having doesn't come easy (or something like that, right?)

    PS. You should get your boys to clean the bathroom, and if they don't make them run with you..hehe

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  10. Well, I do know people who have run and done races all because it seemed like the popular thing to do - then they said they h-a-t-e-d every minute of it. My reply is always that they should stop running and find something they like doing. CrossFit is really popular right now, but I know for a fact that it's not for me. I'm not going to join a box.

    Now, having said that, I get doing something that might not be your favorite thing. For me, that's strength training/weight lifting. I know I need to do it for health reasons so I make myself add a bit of that into my workouts a couple times a week. I don't like it but I know I should do it, so I do. BUT would I try to become a gym rat/power lifter/body builder? NO. I know my limits.

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    1. I wouldn't do strength training on my own. That's why I workout with a coach. Plus she's so creative!

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  11. Mindset is everything!! You've explained it so well. If there's something that I hate doing, I would avoid doing it. I think when people get interested in running they should think about their overall purpose and big picture goal. Even when it's not fun, it shouldn't be something you hate doing!

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    1. Maybe I should stop hating cleaning the bathrooms. But would that make it better? No... :P

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  12. Okay, so I have a thought. I hated swimming too, just like you, until I was forced to do it when I was pregnant with Callum (I ended up with a huge bleed...subchorionic hematoma) and because it was the only form of exercise I was allowed to do, and because I love exercise more than not exercising, I pushed through the hatred of it and guess what! I found out that I actually kinda liked it. Not in the way I love running, no. But it definitely grew on me. And I bet humanity in general has experiences with this in other areas of life, where we push through something we don't like, and then we end up loving it, so maybe the people who hate running run with the hope that they will grow to love it too.

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    1. That's a great thought. Sometimes any movement is better than nothing--I can't say that I loved pool running, but I loved that it got me ready for Big Sur! And I'd do it again if I had to.

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  13. I never hated running. When I started out I was 30 pounds heavier, I had joined Weight Watchers and started walking in the mornings with a little bit of running added in. As the pounds dropped, my endurance increased, and the combo made me love running. There have been times that I've dreaded it but not for long. I'm a terrible swimmer, so I don't see triathlons in my future either.

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    1. I like swimming for jumping out of the boat and swimming to the waterski!

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    2. Ha Ha. That's the only time I swim.

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  14. Brilliant!! I am also very curious why people run if they hate it. I love it. EVEN when I hate it!!

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    1. Out of every activity, I think there are more running haters than in any other sport.

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  15. You had me at your title. I hate to run. My whole premise for Ugly Finish is that running sucks. I enjoyed your article! Here's my answer to your question in a blog post I wrote a while back: http://uglyfinish.com/2015/10/20/running-sucks-why-you-should-start-running/

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    1. I've been reading your blog, and I don't feel the hatred for running coming through any of your posts!

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  16. Life is too short to do any sport you don't enjoy! Like you said, there are so so many options I find it baffling why someone would choose something that didn't bring them joy. Isn't that the whole point? You are right, I don't always love every run. Today for instance the wind was blowing so hard I bailed at 1.6 miles and "walked it in" for 1.4 to call it a day at 3 miles on the road. Once I admitted the run was not making me feel good and I slowed down, I actually was much happier! Anyway, I digress. I can relate to people taking a look at your life and saying "oh you should....". People tell me two things all the time (1) I should compete (uh, never have wanted to, thanks!) and (2) I should compete in tris (see number one). Just because I like to train and I train 3 sports, can't that be enough? Believe me I have enough "have to" stuff in my life that I really don't want my fitness to even come near that category! P.S. I got sick of cleaning so a few years ago we hired a gal to do it for us -- best money spent (and thinking you could just hire someone to come in and do the nasty bathrooms!)

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    1. I didn't disclose that in the post, but yes, I do have a cleaning lady every other week!

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    2. Yay for cleaning people...truly doing such a good deed!

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    3. me too. I hate to clean so I have a cleaning lady. Worth every penny.

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  17. You have given excellent points to loving running, and excellent points on how to love it if one doesn't. I really love that!

    I live my life with a simple rule... if I don't enjoy something, (within reason) I don't do it. I like zumba, but if the instructor's music and dance move make me hate myself and sad, it's better to not go. I can spend that time doing laundry, which it's not my favorite, but I would feel more accomplished.

    Thanks for your wonderful insight on this!

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    1. I feel like you--if I don't like something, I don't do it either!

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  18. I have seen that on a tshirt at a race - I hate running. I guess I interpreted that very tongue in cheek.
    Even though I did a lot of gym activities all my life which included some short sprints in classes, I never ran with the purpose of covering miles until age 45 because I thought I hated it. As an overweight kid I know i hated it, because when I ran stuff giggled and I was embarrassed. I hated it even more when I saw people who look to be effortlessly gliding along! It took me all those years to overcome the fears and just try. It took me long time to think of myself as someone capable, someone at least as capable as that nut gliding effortlessly down the road lol. When I first tried I still hated it because it was hard, but I kept coming back because I was determined to be able to run at least a 5K and eventually I got hooked. When I see articles like that I always think they are trying to speak the fitness person out there (like I was) who just thinks they hate it but haven't really tried. Maybe this is too complicated of answer for a blog post :) geesh, it is a book...

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    1. Not long at all! I love your perspective. I also love how fast you've gotten and how you went for it with that marathon this year!!

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  19. I really love this. I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for running and am always puzzled by the people that feel like that "have" to run for 30 mins at the gym....as if they are punishing their bodies for something.

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  20. I totally agree - life is too short to spend time doing an activity you don't like.
    I think running can become more enjoyable with ease, so maybe don't decide after one run, but also, if you hate it, find something else!

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    1. Oh for sure, you should give yourself time to get conditioned. But telling yourself how much you hate running isn't going to make it any easier.

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  21. I used to hate running, and I think it was because running was really hard for me at first. I couldn't do a mile without feeling like death. But I started working at it and building. The second I was able to do a 5K without stopping, I felt so empowered, and that feeling is what turned me from a hater to a lover! Now I'm hooked on that feeling of accomplishment.

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    1. Yes! But since you hated it, what made you keep going?

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  22. I'm one of those runners who used to hate running...because as a kid (and young adult), I was convinced that you had to be a "fast runner" to be a "real runner." I had so many bad gym teachers who idolized the fast runners (and naturally gifted athletes), and anyone else was made to feel almost less than human. Granted, that generation of teachers (and coaches) have kind of passed on...but the impressions they made on those of us who were less-gifted were not too nice. (Geesh...that kind of turned into a mini blog post LOL). Fast forward to the here & now...I figured out that running has many definitions, and there is more than one way to be a runner. Whew. I'm glad I was enlightened, even if it wasn't until "later" in life ;-)

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    1. Idk--seems like that mentality of idolizing the gifted athletes is still prevalent in schools. At least that's what I hear from my boys.

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  23. I love this so much! I too hate swimming, which is why, after two sprint triathlons I gave them up. My husband still doesn't understand because he, who also started as a runner, now loves it. Oh well. Such sensible ideas for people who say they hate running. And if, after all that, they still hate it, well they can just go for a swim!

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  24. When I was a personal trainer, most of my clients knew I was a runner, and at our first consultation, they would say, "I want to get in shape but I hate running." I think they assumed since I was a runner I would tell them they needed to run, but that obviously was not the case! Like you said, there are so many ways to stay fit and active that hopefully you can find something that you enjoy but will also help you reach your goals. I think a lot of people probably see others doing fun runs and color runs and things like that and maybe want to join in on the fun. I mean, we've all seen people do things we've never tried and having tons of fun, so we think, oh, I will do that too and I will have fun too! Except sometimes it just isn't fun! haha. I love to run and on the days it's a chore and I don't feel like it, I will lift instead. I am glad I like lifting because it's not good for my body to run every day.

    I don't think I LOVED running right away. It's hard to remember. I'm sure I liked it on some level or why else would have I done it? I wish I had written more about running when I first started. It would be interesting to know how I thought about it back in the day.

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    1. On the days I don't love to run, I think about how much I loved the last run or a favorite race. They aren't always great runs, but like anything, it all balances out.

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  25. Funny...I can't imagine doing anything I hate! As you know, I started running only recently and jumped into a marathon the first time around. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, "wow, I really didn't mind it". Since then of course, I have come to absolutely love it! I know you like the smaller crowds but I absolutely LOVE the massive crowds at Chicago. You are right, there are so many ways to stay fit...people are more likely to stick with something they love rather than something they dread.

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    1. Why do anything you hate? Even something that you don't love, there's always something good about it, right?

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  26. So many good points in this post! I also don't understand why people run if they hate it...there are other ways to exercise! But so much of it is the mindset. If they say they hate it, it will just be worse. And you brought up so many good reasons why running might be hard for people. Get some good running clothes, slow down, and try to enjoy it!

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    1. Pretty sure I'm not going to love today's run, in the ice! But I'm going to slow down and take in the scenery.

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  27. I used to hate running because I was forced to run in high school, in the era of cotton gym shorts before there was Body Glide. I tried it on my own as an effort to maintain weight loss because it I learned (probably from Cosmo) that it's the exercise that burns the most calories per hour. I guess the advent of compression shorts made all the difference, because I pretty much enjoyed it from the start the second time around.

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    1. I won't lie, I do love the fun running clothes, as evidenced by my dresser drawer that won't close!

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  28. When I first started running as an adult I really didn't like it. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I definitely didn't enjoy it as I do now. It was a means to an end. I was running to lose weight after my baby. But after I lost the weight and I had formed a really solid habit out of running, it became too good to give up. I was running 3+ miles and that was AMAZING to me. I felt great. I loved how I felt. And so I officially loved running.

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    1. When I'm having a bad run, I always think about how much I love running. Because I do, good and bad runs.

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  29. I obviously LOVE running, and I would not recommend anyone do any exercise that they hate, because with so many options out there, everyone can find something they love. That being said, I didn't start running until 38 because I hated it before... I couldn't run a mile without getting out of breath. I set the goal of running a half-marathon 6 months in the future to give myself 6 months to see if I would learn to like it... and it worked. I had to learn how to run... starting with run/walks, etc... Why did I want to try to see if I could like it? Because I was looking for something I could do anytime from anywhere without driving to a gym or signing up for a class ahead... So for me, committing to the 6 months worked to make me love it. What do I hate... bar class... as much as I love yoga, I hate bar.. and I won't do it anymore.

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    1. I haven't tried Barre--I don't know that I'd hate it tho. It looks hard and effective!

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  30. I love running but can't anymore. I will always miss it. Even now, I see the girls or boys on the high school track teams from the academy where I work on the road when I drive home. I want to be with them. Hate it? No. It will always be a part of me and I salute it for the great joys and feelings of accomplishment it has brought to me late in life.

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    1. That's the other thing--why do something if it becomes so difficult? Reflect on the good memories running brings you. That's important too.

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  31. I have bad days with running, but I don't know if I've ever hated it. I'm not built for it and it's hard work and I'm certainly not very good at it, but I enjoy so many parts of it that I forget about the bad parts.

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    1. I'm with you--I don't know that I ever hated running. I'll be the first to admit that it's hard, tho!

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  32. I love running. Even when I hate running, I love running. This would be why I struggle with any other forms of exercise. I know I need to do them to be healthy, but I don't love them like I love running. I would not run if I didn't enjoy it - I'd find a different exercise.

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    1. I would say cycling comes a close second to running for me! But it's an activity that I don't enjoy when the temperatures drop.

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  33. I loathe swimming! I mean I love leisure fun swimming like in a lake.... but absolutely *hate* swimming as exercise! And all those people in the water at a tri??? No thank you! ;) I admire people who do it! Badass for sure! Great post!

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  34. When my sons ran high school cross country, they had shirts that said, "My sport is your sport's punishment."

    I've never done a triathlon for the exact same reason you state!

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  35. OMG I thought the same exact thing when I saw that NYTimes article!! My husband is one who "runs" (like 1 mile) and says he hates it but he thinks it's the easiest way to get a good 20 minute workout in. Crazy. I hate lifting weights but I do it because it helps my running and, I only do it once or twice per week for about 30 min and I try to find workouts that make it interesting. I think you hit a lot of reasons why people claim to hate running but still do it although I'm sure none of them do it for long!! Great post!!

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    1. I do know people who run because it gives them the "biggest bang for their buck". I get that, but I bet they don't go very far!

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  36. Haha! Love that paragraph about the Cosmo article. I feel like there's a difference b/w hate and dread. Sometimes I dread my run (esp in really cold weather), but then I feel good during and after. And I know that feeling is coming, so I just have to push through the initial dread. But I also think running becomes more enjoyable the more you do it - the better shaper you're in. Obviously you someone who never runs and probably hates it the first time...because it's hard!
    Anyway - the thing I hate is spinning. I like outdoor cycling, just not the indoor spinning. Bored to tears by that.

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    1. That's the thing with running-you have to stick with it. But telling yourself you hate it is only going to make it that much harder!

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  37. I have a friend who has never really supported my running, and in fact tells me how much she hates it as often as she can, yet then signs up (and runs) a half marathon every so often? WHY? LOL! I hate cleaning bathrooms, too...that reminds me, I need to do it! ha!

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    1. Or you could have a cleaning lady, like me!

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  38. I'm so with you on this. I always read this line on Pinterest and I agree - you will never fully enjoy it if you actually hate it. It makes no sense and it's actually a bit insulting as well. It almost sounds like it's so easy that even if you hate you can do it...

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  39. Agreed. Not only is it silly to force yourself to run when you hate it when there may be something else out there that you do like, but you're a lot more likely to be consistent with exercise if you don't dread every moment of it. I'm thinking about doing a triathlon this year too, but the part I don't like is the biking one.

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    1. I'm also kind of nervous about the transitions. All that rushing would make me to forget something!

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  40. Did I spark this search, LOL?

    I don't think it's at all unusual for new runners to hate running -- because, as you so amply point out, it's HARD. I did not fall in love with running right away, nosireebob.

    Obviously, I'm happy that I persevered anyway. I do many other things for fitness, and one of my reasons for starting running was to break through a weight loss plateau -- but frankly, if you're looking to lose weight, there are better ways to do it than to take up running.

    But even at its worst, I would never equate running with cleaning the bathroom. Which I'm not overly fond of myself (I can only imagine it at your house with 3 males! 1 is enough!).

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    1. That's why I have a cleaning lady! At least she can take care of the bathrooms. The running? I'm on my own.

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  41. This is so great...I have such a large community of runners and I've heard this so many times! Maybe they hate the process of running and like the way they feel after??

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    1. But if they had the runners' high, would they hate running?

      It's the chicken and egg thing all over again.

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  42. I used to hate running, back in college when I was TERRIBLE at it (didn't help that my boyfriend/now husband was a world-class sprinter). I had to learn to slow way down, and go for distance. I still hate training for a specific time goal--it makes running a chore--so I am ALL ABOUT "upright and smiling" at the end ;)

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    1. Sometimes it can be a chore. But overall...I do love it.

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  43. This is such a great post! I have had this conversation with umpteen people...*sigh* If you want to run, RUN! My advice to people when they tell me how much they hate running, but want to be a runner is: "The first 2 to 3 miles suck, then you will love it." :-) Perhaps a bit skewed from this endurance junkie, but that's what has worked for me!

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    1. I always tell people to stick with running, it gets better with time, but telling yourself how much you hate it does you no good!

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  44. Such a great post, Wendy! I never understood runners who hate running? Why do you do it then? If you don't enjoy it, find something that you do enjoy! I'm totally with you on triathlons. I love running, like biking, and hate swimming, so they just aren't for me. :-) And I probably won't ever force myself to do one, because, well, I'm just not all about forcing myself to do things I hate.

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