But what if I hate running?

A reader asked me this, and ever since, I’ve been trying to decide how to answer.  Initially, I thought, “Well, don’t run.  No one says you have to.”  But then I thought maybe this person really wishes she liked running because it’s such efficient and inexpensive exercise, and it’s so much nicer if you happen to also enjoy it.  So simply saying, “Well, just don’t do it then,” is kind of unhelpful.  Also, it’s not what I think she should do.

I think running, for those who don’t naturally love it, is an acquired taste worth acquiring.  There are acquired tastes I wouldn’t encourage anyone to develop (coffee, beer).  I say, if you’re so fortunate as to dislike those things, then by all means, just be grateful.  Those things aren’t good for you anyway.  But with running, I’d say, try to make yourself like it.

It sounds terrible, but it can absolutely be done.  I have heard so many runners say, “I always hated running, until…” or “I was never athletic, but then…”  Many people begin running because something other than a love of running makes them do it.  They want to lose weight, they’re stressed out, they’re having trouble sleeping (indeed — my husband began running in part because he could never sleep after a long day sitting at his desk).

Yes, it is awful at first.  You’ll hear runners say, “Oh, at first, I couldn’t run even half a mile, and after the first time, I swore I’d never do it again.”  This awfulness sometimes lasts several months.  But those who push through often end up loving running for its own sake.

There are many good things that we don’t naturally like.  A natural disinclination to run should be thoroughly tested and tried, at least by anyone who wishes she liked to run.  You can enjoy running, but you have to push through your hatred first.  If, on the other hand, you run three times a week for, oh, five or six months, and you still hate it, and all its benefits are not enough to keep you going, well, I think maybe you’d better join a gym so you can do something more interesting.  But I think you will find that, even if you still don’t enjoy it, you’ll love how much better you feel, and that might be incentive enough.

Leave a comment


  1. Kimberly

     /  16 November, 2011

    So you’re saying repetition is key?

    If I were to take your advice, which seems reasonable, I would want a list of “things a novice and not-very-serious runner should make sure not to do, so as to not make himself extra miserable and set up really bad habits.” But alas, I bet there isn’t one. It’s probably, “Sorry, nope. Just put on your shoes and socks, and run around the block. Then do it again in a couple days.”

    • Actually, that’s not a bad idea. But I’m not sure what mistakes a beginner would be likely to make. I’d have to think about that, or look for running advice for beginners elsewhere. Things like, “Don’t throw yourself on the floor as soon as you get home,” and “Make sure you eat something after a run even though you’re trying to lose weight,” come to mind.

  1. Beginning runners need less advice « Repetition Is Key

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