Running: The unfortunate truth about getting started

Sitting here, just a couple days before the start of training for the Flying Pig marathon (Cincinnati, May 4), I’m thinking about how to start running. Everyone else has already covered the run/walk ratios, how to get properly shoe-d, etc., but I think it’s time we air the dirty little secret most “Yay, you’re going to be a new runner!” advice doesn’t cover:

The first 4-6 weeks are terrible.

Running sucks

Running sucks

On nearly every one of your first runs, you’re going to feel like your lungs are trying to claw their way out through your throat.

For weeks, you’ll be chasing the elusive runner’s high with legs that seem to have been filled with angry scorpions.

You’re going to get passed by fleet-footed, compression-tights-clad twerps while you’re doing your best impression of a fish flung onto dry land.

Why? It’s partly because you need to build muscular endurance, but the I’M GOING TO MEET MY MAKER IN THESE STUPID RAGGEDY SWEATPANTS feeling also stems from the need to build cardiorespiratory endurance. And for most of us getting started with running, it takes a good 4-6 weeks to get strong enough in both those areas to feel like, hey, running’s not that bad after all.

But if you haven’t been told this, and you have been pushing yourself through 3 weeks of running but still feel like the end is nigh every time, you better believe that can be discouraging.

So, reality: the majority of us are not going to like the first 4-6 weeks’ worth of running. But if you’re prepared for that, and can accept the inevitable, you’re going to come out on the other side with a solid base for – get this – actually enjoying running. Your lungs will stay where they’re meant to, the scorpions will vacate your quads, and you’ll have enough energy to wave & smile and Tights McFastRunner next time.

Running is terrible, but running gets great. I promise.

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