Let’s face it: Starting a running program—especially in the blazing heat of summer–isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do. If it was, everyone would be running. (Wouldn’t that be nice?) The problem with getting into a consistent running program is we allow obstacles—real or imagined—to get in our way and too often, they stop us dead in our tracks. There’s another word for these obstacles: Excuses. And although many excuses may be legitimate, there are always ways to get around any roadblock.
We’ve heard them all, but the bottom line is if you want to start running, you will. The key is making a firm commitment to begin running and not allow any excuses—garbage in, garbage out—to get in your way.
Here are some of the most common excuses we hear every day and workable solutions:
I don’t have time!
Solution: First off, the President of the United States exercises every day. Even though President Obama looks like he’d make a great runner, he mostly plays basketball. He’s a pretty busy guy, but finds the time to exercise. Presidents Carter, Clinton and both Bushes all ran while in the White House. Michael Dell runs. Democratic Wendy Davis runs and so did the guy who has the job she wants—Rick Perry. Republican Greg Abbott used to run until he was severely injured when a tree fell on him in Houston. Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell is a dedicated walker and there are countless other extremely busy Texans with high-stress jobs who run and/or walk during the summer. If they can find the time, you can too.
But how? The best advice for busy Texans is to run early, before your workday begins. That way, you’ll get your miles done and out of the way. If something unexpected comes up later in the day, you’ll already have run. If you have young children, going early before they wake up is about the only way busy moms can get a run in. Same with the dads. If both mom and dad run, simply stagger your early-morning runs. Or buy a Baby Jogger.
Certainly, running in the early morning isn’t for everyone. Some of us absolutely can not get going in the morning. If that’s you, make a commitment to run during your lunch hour or some other free time during the day. Running when you get home from work or school is tough. Chances are you’re tired from a busy day and will find a convenient excuse—that word again!—to blow it off.
Make a firm commitment to running at a specific time. Commit to at least 4-5 runs a week at a fixed time. If you do, you’re more likely to stick with your program.
I’m too old.
Solution: Pure garbage. If you’re reading this (and at least interested in running), you aren’t too old. I know plenty of people well into their 70s and 80s who run several days a week. They don’t look or act like they’re too old because they aren’t. They lead fit, active lives that have added years to their lifespan.
All you need is the motivation and desire to get going. Start slowly with a gradual progression of time spent running. It will get easier as you get fitter and fitter. If you want to use your age as an excuse, that’s your choice. Just don’t complain about being too heavy, not having any energy or feeling lethargic–and too old.
I’m too slow.
Solution: Too slow? Too slow for what? The idea is to maintain continuous movement, not to break any land speed records. Don’t worry about how fast you run or how many miles you cover. Nobody cares. Your goal is simple: To run continuously for up to a half hour. Your body doesn’t care how fast you’re moving; moving and burning calories is what counts.
I’m too fat.
Solution: Maybe you are overweight, but I can guarantee you aren’t too fat to run—and lose weight. If you are overweight and afraid of being embarrassed when you start running, that’s understandable. But all you need to do is go down to Lady Bird Lake and look around at the all the folks running and walking. They aren’t all greyhounds. Actually, few are. They probably look a lot like you. But they know something that you don’t: Running is the most effective way to burn calories and fat–and lose weight.
Solution: You are absolutely right. It is hard. But so what? Starting any new activity can be difficult. Especially running. The key is to take things gradually (adding time and distance slowly). If you can just stick with running three or four days a week for a solid month, you’ll notice tremendous changes taking place. And if you can make it through that difficult first month, it will get much easier as your body becomes fitter and leaner. One of the best suggestions is to join one of the numerous training groups in town that cater to beginners. They have coaches who will get you going with well-designed running programs. Check out the websites for Rogue Training, Gilbert’s Gazelles, Luke’s Locker, Austin Fit, TriZones, Galloway Runners or several others.
I don’t have any place to run or walk.
Solution: Do you have a street? Then, you have a place to run or walk. Sure, running on the Butler/Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is ideal but if it’s too far away, any quiet stretch of road will do. Or drive to one of Austin’s beautiful parks or running trails. Or go to a soccer or football field and run slowly around the circumference.
It’s too hot.
Solution: Yup, you may have noticed it’s summer here in Central Texas and if the sun is still rising in the east, you can bet the heat and humidity is brutal. Running in the Central Texas summer is extremely tough and it won’t be getting any cooler until the Longhorns are well into their schedule. The easiest solution is to go early in the morning in the pre-dawn darkness before it heats up too much. If you just can’t get out of bed early to beat the heat, go to a gym and get on a treadmill.
You’re best bet though is to get used to the heat. Allow yourself time to gradually adapt to it by starting your running program in small bites and you will get better in the heat. But it is difficult. Wear as little as possible and drink before you run or walk and rehydrate immediately afterward. One more thing: It’ll be fall eventually and the temperatures will be cooling down. Then, don’t come around here, complaining about it being too cold because I’m not listening to your moaning.
It’s no fun.
Solution: Make it fun. Grab a workout partner and chat the time away. Discuss politics, the Longhorns’ chances or who’ll be the starting QB, who will be the next Governor or the causes of global warming. Solve the world’s problems. Vary your pace and terrain. Go longer some days and shorter on others. Travel to different locales and parks for your runs. If you go to different cities, bring your running shoes and explore new places. (Hint: Most of those other cities, other than San Antonio and Houston, will be cooler and dryer.)
Running can be boring—but only if you allow it to be. You are only limited by your own imagination.
Get over it and get going this summer.