What I Learned From a Month Spent Trying to Like Running

What I Learned From a Month Spent Trying to Like Running
Photo: Jo Panuwat D, Shutterstock

When I decided to spend a month trying to get myself to actually like running for the Lifehacker Fitness Challenge, I’ll admit that my expectations were low. And after my first run, they dropped even more than I thought possible. What followed over the next few weeks were a series of highs and lows, culminating in this conclusion: I don’t completely like running yet, but I can actually tolerate it now, and I think I’ll grow to like it more with time.

As you may recall, if you’ve been following my journey, that first run I took — simply to get a baseline of where I was starting from — went all wrong. I ran uphill in my neighbourhood (for reasons I still can’t explain), my ankles felt like they couldn’t bend properly (for reasons I still can’t pinpoint), and I got barely two blocks before I was cursing my decision to attempt this challenge at all (that part makes sense).

By week two, though, I’d discovered the joy that is the Zombies, Run! app, which I found entertaining and which gave me some extra motivation, and I landed in a solidly neutral “running is meh” category — a major improvement. Week three saw even more of an upside after Lifehacker’s Editor-in-Chief Jordan Calhoun and I interviewed Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running for Lifehacker’s podcast The Upgrade — Jason’s encouragement and advice set me up for what was probably the most pleasant run I’ve ever taken in my life. I didn’t necessarily like all running yet, but I did like that one particular run.

When I woke up the next morning with a sore ankle, though, I gave myself several days to rest so as not to risk injuring it further. The week that followed has been something of a bummer, including one final run that ended when the pain in my ankle suddenly flared back up just as I was about to slow to a walk. Up until then, it was going pretty well. I was feeling strong, and proud of the progress I’d made.

Despite the minor injury, I gave myself a “three” on my Running Moods Scale of one to five for this week. (Five being, “Oh, so this is what hell feels like,” and one being, “Weeee, I’m a runner! Look at me go!”) I feel like that is still somehow a success, because if you’d asked me a month ago how I expected I’d feel while ending this challenge on a painful note, I would have said, “Like that will be the last run I’ll ever take.”

I actually did tell myself at the beginning of this process that if I got to the end of the month and still hated to run, I never had to “go for a run” again as long as I lived, and could return to my previously scheduled Exercises I Actually Enjoy. But I can see now that I never stuck with running long enough in the past to get over the hump that most new runners experience starting out. And this time, I can tell I’m right there — I’m so close.

So, did I learn to like running in 30 days? I guess not during this particular 30 days, given the circumstances. But I was able to develop a new appreciation for it, and I can see a path forward to liking it in the near future — a future in which adequate stretching has finally become a top priority.

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