Running for the “Non-Runners” (guest post).

I am not a natural runner.

Running isn’t easy for me.

I don’t put on my running shoes and go out for a run expecting the experience to be easy breezy. No matter what my running pace – whether I’m running a race and giving it my all, or telling myself to take it easy on a long run – running is hard work!

Throughout college, I worked out regularly, but was never a runner.

When I graduated I found myself in a full-time job that wasn’t very demanding or stimulating. While this may sound like a blessing (and having a job is!), it also left me feeling unfulfilled and in need of a challenge.

I went to the gym frequently, but never really ran on the treadmill or outside. My workouts mostly consisted of strength workouts (my favorite!), steady-state cardio on the elliptical or a group exercise class.

I was very intimidated by running.

Everyone I knew that ran regularly was really into the sport, ran with local running groups and wore all of the official gear. Their running watches tracked their crazy-fast paces, their dri-fit clothing fit perfectly and I doubted my own abilities to ever feel like a real runner, though the interest was there.

I began looking into running races, thinking that running a 5K might provide me with a decent challenge. I made it my goal to run the 3.1 miles non-stop in August 2007. My goal for my first 5K was to simply run the whole thing.

When race-day came, I headed to the start line with my own personal running mantra for the day: “Just keep running. Run as slow as you want, but just keep running.”  Knowing I could run as slow as I wanted, even if it meant that I was practically walking, made me feel less nervous.

I managed to accomplish my goal and ran the entire thing.

I even surprised myself by enjoying the experience. I loved the energy of the race and the camaraderie I felt with the other runners who shared a similar interest in fitness.

The 5K was enough to spark my interest in other running races. I searched for 5Ks and 10Ks in my area, feeling nervous and excited about the possibility of training for a longer race.

When I saw that there was a half marathon at the beginning of December 2007 in Orlando, I immediately became interested.

Could I do this? Could I really run 13.1 miles?

I knew in my heart I finally found the goal I was looking for. Committing to running a half marathon would require lots of training, patience and time and I set out to find a training plan I thought I could follow.

I found several training plans on Hal Higdon’s website and thought that the “Novice” plan seemed like a perfect fit.

Since my goal for the half marathon was to run the whole thing and simply cross the finish line, this plan was ideal. It didn’t complicate training with speed drills, hills or anything that overwhelmed me.

I veered from the training plan a bit, but followed it almost exactly when it came to the long runs. The only long run I missed was the 10 mile run the week before the race because I was sick on the day I typically did my long run (Sundays).

The longest run I did before the half was a nine-mile run, which made me a little nervous. The actual race distance was 4.1 miles more than that!

On the day of the race, I was a bundle of nerves. I told myself to trust my training and my body.

And then I did it. I ran the whole thing.

When I crossed the finish line I felt proud and powerful! Knowing that I just accomplished something I never thought I could accomplish just months before was surreal.

I used to think about my lack of natural running ability as a setback, but now I look at it as a gift.

Since I know I am not going to bust out a half marathon in 1:30, I don’t feel the pressure to run really fast. I allow myself to enjoy the running experience and run at a pace that is comfortable for me. Though I know many runners thrive on running fast and beating previous times, eliminating the pressure of running for time allows me to enjoy long runs and races.

I don’t take my running too seriously other than when I am training for a long race.

I love committing to training, but also enjoy my time away from training for distance races when I can focus on my favorite circuit workouts.

Running is a tricky thing for me.

Sometimes running and I are the perfect pair. Sometimes our relationship is a little rocky. But now I know I can do it.  I can be a runner.

Julie, AKA Peanut butter Fingers, was lovingly dragged over here by me to guest post.  She and I are remarkably similar with regards to running (though, to my chagrin, she’s a far better cook).  We will be speaking together on a panel in N.Y.C. this May about the Business of blogging.


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  1. says

    Thank you for this post Julie/MizFit. I’ve been struggling with running and feeling like a non-runner for the past couple of years on and off, and I can completely identify with this post. It’s inspiring and gives me hope that I can perhaps be a runner also, at least for that magical mystical 5K. Really appreciate the post.

  2. Neighbor Linda says

    Thanks so much for bringing her here to blog.
    I want to be a runner but my head keeps telling me I’m not.

  3. Tia says

    I LOVE that you two are in the same place LOL
    I am a big fan of you both.
    Now I need to be a big fan of running :)

  4. says

    Julie and MzFit, T
    thank you for sharing your story, I think you will help so many people who are in similar circumstances. You are super tough for finishing that half!

  5. says

    What an accomplishment! Great story.

    I’m not built for speed but I could walk all the way to Mexico! Not quite sure I could run to the end of the block though. :)

  6. says

    Lovin’ this post! Congrats on finishing your half!!!

    I’m definitely not a natural runner nor do I look like one when I run lol It’s not a breeze, especially when it’s breezy. I’ve set my running goals and I’m enjoying running at my own pace. I just started running 10 months ago (which is shocking to me because I disliked running before that and pretty much vowed I’d never get into it! lol).

    Having said that, I signed up for my first 10K race, which is coming in May. Never say never :)

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  7. Mary says

    I love this post and you, Mizzy, for bringing her here.

    Sometimes I read blogs by runners and think I’m the worst runner ever.

  8. says

    I love your attitude, Julie! It sounds like you and running have made your peace and you use it to serve you well. I’m sure other non-running folks (although I consider you a runner) will be inspired!

  9. says

    Great post! Having just gotten in to running over the past couple of months I feel exactly the way you did! I have a 5 k next month and then a 10 in June! :) My goal like yours is just to keep on running!

  10. says

    Nice!! I’m not a natural runner either – my people were built for comfort, not speed. Yet I’m up early 3-4 days a week on my treadmill or outside and even though the first 10 minutes are full of HATE, I eventually find my happy pace and enjoy running. And I absolutely LOVE how I feel when I’m done!!

  11. Miz says

    Not yet posted :-) I THINK it will be on the 8th of May somewhere in NYC?
    Not sure of details yet (where we’re staying etc) but Ill share when I have them!

  12. says

    I loved reading this. I am not a natural runner either (although I consider myself more of a sporadic jogger than a runner). I actually follow quite a few running blogs, and it’s nice to see a story that reads a little differently. Maybe there is hope for me yet?? Naw, I will probably still jog along, but I am alright with that! 😉 Thanks for posting this, it is very inspiring.

  13. cheryl says

    I don’t get the labeling thing. I have run for over 40 years but always go by my name, “mom”, “speech/language pathologist”, etc. and am “Cheryl who runs”- not “a runner named Cheryl”. Just do it because I love it-but it doesn’t define who I am even though I have been fairly successful with it. Over the years I have gravitated to triathlons, ultra-trail runs, dance, yoga, weight-lifting-just all a part of who I am. Not WHO I am. Keep it up and find fun in whatever you do!

  14. says

    Ha! I still don’t get it. I’ve tried and I’ve tried – finally I accepted that it wasn’t for me, even though I never got good enough to progress past wog. Ha!
    But – I’m sooooo happy for people who like to run :)

  15. Abby says

    I have to say it again: I love seeing you two together because I’ve adored you both from afar.

    First time commenter :)

  16. says

    LOVE!!! I run.. I used to run 5Ks in my younger years. I still just run. I never liked it even when I did the 5k’s but I like the challenge of it & yes, sometimes I am OK with it.. but I keep running & glad I can do it. Weights are my love but I still run for cardio….

  17. says

    I am always trying to get to the spot where I call myself a “runner.” I have never experienced a “runner’s high” but definitely want to get to that point. I think I just need to get over the mind games and practice, practice, practice. Thanks to both of you!

  18. says

    Great post Julie! The first race I ever did, I came in dead last and swore I’d never do it again. So all of us are “non-runners” in the beginning, and the true beauty of the sport is in its come one, come all spirit. So glad you did!

  19. says

    Very inspiring story! I love how you set goals that worked for YOU, and you alone. I think it’s very important that runners do more than just run (learned that the hard way when I kept getting injured) so the weight training and non-running cardio that you do are a perfect compliment. Also – LOVE the photo!

  20. says

    Thanks for sharing this guest post by Julie. I really appreciated reading her perspective. It was a WONDERFUL and timely reminder for me regarding running vs. racing. I think I have forgotten the ‘enjoy’ part of running and obsess too much over my Garmin numbers.

    This makes me want to take a step back and run for the right reasons.

  21. says

    I love this: “Since I know I am not going to bust out a half marathon in 1:30, I don’t feel the pressure to run really fast. I allow myself to enjoy the running experience and run at a pace that is comfortable for me.” And the joy on your face in the pic says it all! I’m not a natural runner either but I do enjoy it!

  22. says

    This was so great to read! I just started training for my first half, with the same goal, just to finish. I am not looking at any ideal pace because I’m simply not fast, but I do enjoy running a lot. It’s nice to read that others share in this!

  23. says

    Thank you for this! I’m running my first 5k in a week. It’s something I never thought I would do. I still don’t feel like a runner and I’m very slow… I blogged about feeling like I go out to “do a run” when “real” runners “go for a run”. You are giving me hope to keep going in the future despite how hard I think it is! Thank you.

  24. says

    Great post! I’m SO not a runner. I’ve started C25k about 3 times and get to the point that I start dreading going to the gym – it was suggested I focus on the exercise I love doing (group classes etc) and not stress over the running – which is what I do.

    But, I still dream of that runner’s high people talk about!

  25. says

    Thank you for this post! I’m not a “natural runner” either and very recently did my first 5k. Its funny because my goal anytime I run is the same…not speed at all, just to keep going without stopping. My running buddy will bust ut with a running goal for a “10 minute mile” and I smile and think, “all I want to do is not stop.” I did feel pretty awkward at first about my “speed” or lack of, but then I read a saying that said, “no matter how slow you run, you are still lapping everyone on the couch.” YEAH. :) CONGRATS!!! Very inspiring.

  26. says

    Is there such a thing as a natural runner? When I started everyone who ran looked like a natural runner. Now after several years some of my friends and relatives call “me” a natural runner. Even though I didn’t start running regularly until about 40. The point is that with enough practice you can make running seem like something you do naturally…

  27. Darcie says

    This is me to a T. I commit to one half-marathon a year. I do it with a girlfriend who lives 3 hours away, it’s our excuse to spend some time together, which we otherwise seem to suck at. It’s always hard to get out the door for a run, some portion of it is ugly, some portion of it is ok, every now & then a TINY portion feels awesome. But I like the discipline of a training plan , and then I love being free of that disciupline to tackle other fitness activities.