I know, I know. You “can’t.” Your boobs are too big. You have that issue with your knee. And that terrible thing always happens where you can’t breathe and wish you were dead. And how is it possible for a thing to be both agonizing and boring at the same time?
Running is horrible and sweaty and basically no fun at all.
It doesn’t have to be, though. I used to suck at running, and I’m still not fast, but I love it and not in a love-hate relationship kind of way, either. My love for running is without qualification—sweaty crotch, shin splints, blisters and all.
When I first took up running again after birthing my second kid, it was to lose the baby weight. I could only run for about 30 seconds before fiery cramps forced me to walk, and playing on a constant loop in my mind was: Why the hell am I doing this? I’d rather be fat. But I forced myself to carry on, and each time I ran, the amount of seconds I was able to run increased by a tiny bit. A year later, I was running six and seven miles at a time and participating in Tough Mudder (Twice.)
I don’t run to lose weight anymore. Now I run for my sanity. I have anxiety, and there is a marked difference in my emotional state on the days I run versus the days I don’t run. Endorphins are great medicine for the mind. That stupid runner’s high runners are always bragging about, I know, it’s so annoying when people brag about it, but dammit, it’s real, and every time I experience that high I wish I could bottle it and share it with everyone I’ve ever met who said they wouldn’t run even if they were being chased by zombies.
I can’t bottle the high, but for those of you whose interest I’ve piqued, I’ve got a few tips to help you get there on your own:
1. Ladies, get a really good bra. It absolutely makes a positive difference for your running experience when your ta-tas are under control. I have two awesome sports bras that squish me so flat they all but disappear, and I assure you it is no small feat to immobilize these breastfeeding-damaged floppers.
2. Get quality running shoes. Go to the fancy runner’s store and get fitted. If you can’t afford them there, order them online. However you have to do it, just make sure you get the right shoe with a proper fit. Bad shoes are uncomfortable and make you more likely to injure yourself.
3. Get good headphones and a good armband for your smart phone. Running is your special time to listen to music that would traumatize your children. My preference is dirty filthy rap music, but you do you, man. In my opinion, the louder, angrier and more politically incorrect, the better, because you need catharsis. Another benefit to playing loud music in your ears: You can’t hear yourself breathing. I found out the other day that when I exercise, I sound like I’m dying. After a workout, I pulled my headphones out of my ears, and my son handed me a glass of water with a trembling hand and eyes filled with tears. Poor kid literally thought I was dying. Loud music in my ears makes it so I don’t have to listen to myself hyperventilate while I’m exercising.
4. Take it slow. Many new runners—including myself—start off way too fast. If you’re a beginner, you should run at the pace of a speed walk. It should almost feel like you’re not even running. If, while running, you find yourself wishing you were dead, your pace is too fast.
5. CALM DOWN. You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Getting a cramp? STOP AND WALK. In pain? STOP AND WALK. Feeling angry at everything? STOP AND WALK. Your body will develop endurance even if you walk a lot in between tiny bursts of running. There is absolutely no benefit in pushing yourself so hard that you hurt yourself or end up hating running.
Now lace up your new kicks and get out there and run!
This post originally appeared on Scary Mommy 2. If you enjoyed it, you might like my books, Red Water, an Amazon Best Seller, and Beyond the Break! To stay updated on new releases, sign up for my newsletter and join my book group on Facebook!