Running has always been something I secretly wanted to be able to do. Everyone once in a blue moon, I would google “How to run” or “Start running the easy way” and longingly read through the posts. I even downloaded the Couch 2 5k app…and then deleted it a month later after it didn’t magically turn me into a marathoner. Running has always seemed so exotic and cool. I wanted to be that girl who could casually drop into conversation, “Oh, I went for a run.”
The thing about running is that you have to actually do it. I know, crazy. Who knew to be good at something you have to practice? The other thing about running is that it’s actually really hard. It’s especially hard when you’re just starting. Your form is going to be ridiculous, you will sound like you are literally dying when you try to breathe, and every muscle in your legs are going to cramp up at the same time.
BUT, once you’ve realized that you’re not going to die, learned how to pace yourself, and started focusing on the moment you are in, running becomes something magical. You’re going somewhere with your own two feet. Every time you put on those shoes and head out the door, even if you only make it one tenth of a mile, you’re building a habit and increasing your lung capacity. Every run builds on the one before it. Pretty soon you’re going to run everywhere! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Running can become fun though, I promise.
A lot of people start running on a treadmill. I can say without hesitation that I hate treadmill running. Some people thrive on a treadmill, but if I were forced to use one every day I would quit immediately.
In fact, that is the number one reason I don’t run on a treadmill – it’s too easy to quit. I don’t know how strong your willpower is, but mine is utterly pathetic. All I have to do is push a button and the treadmill stops or slows down. Now, I can stop or slow down on a sidewalk or trail too, but I still have to walk all the way back to where I started before I can leave. If I keep running, I’ll get back to my start point sooner.
Reason number two is, quite simply, running on a treadmill is boring. There’s nothing to look at, other than digital numbers ticking by with maddening slowness. I don’t have to pay attention to my foot placement; I don’t have to watch for other people, or cars, or animals. I don’t have to be involved in the process. When I run outside, I am constantly scanning the ground in front of me for things that might trip me up. I am aware of my surroundings, looking for cars and bikes, nodding hello to other joggers or people walking their dogs. To run outside, you have to be engaged.
Finally, running on a treadmill is just not that motivating. When I’m outside and I feel like I’m about to quit, I can convince myself to just make it to the next stop sign or the group of trees ahead. Then, when I reach that point I can talk myself into going just a little bit farther. The changing scenery makes it easier to keep going because every destination point is new. There is nothing motivating about staring at the wall of a gym, trying desperately not to think about how far a mile is. And believe me, as a newbie runner I need all the motivation I can get!
Running outside gives me measurable progress. I ran to this bush yesterday, but today I can go a little farther. This street is where I thought I was dying last week, but today I’m passing it breathing easily. Running teaches me that I am capable of so much more than I ever imagined. All it takes is practice. Remember, no matter how slow you’re going, you’re still faster than everyone still sitting on the couch.
Do you prefer to run outside, or on a treadmill? Why?