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how to start up running

How To Become a Runner When Running Makes You Feel Like Dying

Full disclosure: This advice is coming from a running novice. If you’re a fitness buff looking for tips from a great fitness guru, go check out one of the millions of awesome fitness blogs. I’m just a Mom trying to look like she did two pregnancies ago with only 23 minutes of spare time per day to accomplish it.

how to become a runner

My entire life I’ve hated running. It’s one of those things I WISHED I loved, because the people who do are so enviable. They’re healthy, they’re lean, they just seem confident and cool. But running has always made me feel like dying. It’s hard to get into something that makes you feel like that.

Tiana’s depiction of me on the treadmill. Notice the trails of sweat and expression of pure misery.

Somehow by necessity, running became one of my only workout options. All the fun, hip barre and bootcamp classes in my area don’t offer childcare, and I’ve had at least one baby by my side for approximately 54,762 8 years now.

This limits my options to Youtube videos during nap time, and running with a jogging stroller. I’ve taken up both, alternating days.

And I’m happy to say, running no longer makes me feel like dying.


So how did I get here? I’m very happy you asked that question 😉

1. Start where you’re at

Maybe right now you can make it around the block before you feel like dying. Then that’s where you start. Don’t set out to run 5 miles on day one just so you can vomit, feel horrible about yourself, and never run again. Just do the block.

Don’t set your goal according to anyone else (oh boy, this is true for so many things. Exercise, weight loss, blogging….!). Your goal is to go a little farther than you did last time. If you manage that, be proud of yourself. If you have the do the same 1 block 10 times before you’re able to go any farther, that means you went out running 10 times! How awesome are you?

Be as kind and optimistic with yourself as you would be with your child or best friend.

2. Walking counts

My husband jogs too, and often times after we’ve both gone on a run we like to see how far we went by using Map My Run. It’s just a cool, easy way to map the route you just went on and see how many miles it was. Anyway, he will always stop short of our house on the map, saying “well this is where I started walking so it doesn’t count”.

It never fails to elicit a huge eyeroll from me. Honestly, it’s not like he strapped on his hoverboard and flew home from that point! If you walked some of the route, you still took those steps and covered that distance. It counts.

3. Lie to yourself when necessary

You know how they say the hardest part of any fitness regimen is lacing up your sneakers? I agree with that wholeheartedly. It’s so easy to make excuses of why you’re going to skip your workout for the day. I didn’t sleep well last night. My legs are pretty sore. I’m kind of short on time today.

This is when I lie to myself. I say “ok self. Those are good reasons why I am probably not going to do my best run ever today. So let’s just compromise, and I’ll do a super easy little baby run. Still better than no run, right?”

Then once I get started on my “super easy little baby run”, I start getting into my groove, realize I can totally do this, and end up doing the whole thing.

4. Create a habit

The cool thing about exercise is, if you build it into your routine and make it a habit, in a very short time you will feel really strange if you DON’T do it. This only takes a couple weeks of daily exercise in my experience. Once you get there, you’re in a really awesome place. It doesn’t feel like a chore anymore, it feels just like going through your day. Only your day is healthier and more energized.

As far as creating that routine, everyone has to find a spot in their day that works for them. For me, if I put it off to the end of the day, I’m WAY more likely to skip it. It works best for me to do it first thing in the morning before my husband leaves for work. The benefits to this time are:

  • My youngest wakes up early so I’m already up and just wasting time anyway
  • It gets me out of some of that dreaded morning chaos of getting the older kids ready for school
  • My husband doesn’t want to be late so he’ll pressure me by saying “go now or you’re going to miss your chance!”
  • Morning workouts rev up your metabolism for the day
  • Even though I don’t diet, I am more likely to make good food choices that day because I don’t want to “ruin” the workout I just did

5. Bring a kid or two

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually prefer running with a jogging stroller to running by myself. It might have something to do with being an introvert and wanting to deflect attention away from myself when I pass other people on the sidewalk. The baby also gives me a nice distraction because I’m pointing out dogs and birds and flowers to him instead of just focusing on my lungs collapsing.

My son absolutely LOVES jogging with Mom, so that’s motivation in itself. He runs to the door to get his shoes on when it’s time to go for a run, so in his own little way he is pressuring me too.

how to become a runner
Luca living the stroller life

6. Other notes about jogging strollers

If you’re looking for a jogging stroller that is super smooth and easy to push, I would not hesitate to recommend my BOB Revolution. Don’t worry if you find that sticker price appalling, just check Craigslist or your local Moms group to buy one secondhand. These things can take a beating so it should hold up well through multiple kids.

One mistake that is easy to make with a jogging stroller (especially when you’re starting out and still hate running) is to lean over and put weight down on the handlebar when you’re tired. This just creates more work for you because you’re making it harder to push, plus you are straining your back. Check your form a few times throughout your jog and make sure you are keeping your back upright and straight with your shoulders down. You should only be giving the handlebar a gentle forward push.

7. Sign up for that 5k

how to become a runner
Smiling because the finish line is in sight during my first 5k

Lastly, after you’ve built up a little endurance and can jog a couple miles, take the plunge and sign up for a 5k. This will give you great motivation to stick with your routine and push yourself harder. Being part of a race doesn’t really mean you are racing anyone, it just lets you be a part of something that’s more exciting than running loops around your neighborhood.

After completing a race, you’ll have a great feeling of accomplishment. I did my first 5k last year, and while I did feel like dying during some parts, the sense of pride at the end was amazing. My kids didn’t care what place I came in, they were just happy to cheer for Mommy. And what better example to set for your kids than working hard to accomplish something you didn’t think you could do?

The kids were inspired to run in a race like Mommy!

8. Other jogging tips

Distraction can be your best friend when you’re trying to huff and puff through your run. Put a favorite motivational playlist together and run with your headphones. Or go for a jog when you have a lot on your mind and see how easy it is to sort your thoughts out. When your mind is elsewhere your body will do what it needs to and you won’t even notice!

During especially painful times, when your body totally does notice, keep your focus just a short distance in front of you. If you’re looking far into the distance, it can seem like you’re not making any progress and will never get there. Looking just a few sidewalk squares in front of you, you’ll feel like you’re flying through.

What advice or questions do you have about starting a running regime? I’d love to hear from you!