True Life: I'm a Cardio-Phobe Who Learned to Like Running


Urban Outfitters

Running and I have a long, complicated relationship. I grew up playing team sports like soccer and lacrosse and loved them, but I dreaded running laps around the field to get in fighting shape—without the distraction of rules, a ball, a goal, and a field full of people, I found it mind-numbingly boring. My dad, a habitual runner to this day, would drag me on jogs with him, and I would typically make it a mile or so before inventing some kind of freak injury or illness, fake-hobbling home. My parents even made me join the track team in the hopes of keeping me active during the soccer off-season. I had a lot of fun spending that spring in the high-jump pit.

And then this simple hatred of running took a particularly nasty turn: I entered college, and after noticing one day that two months of Four Loko and the cafeteria waffle bar had rendered even my largest jeans unwearable, I found myself on one of my dorm's treadmills in a blind panic. I basically took up residence there for the next eight weeks, running every single day, even if it meant missing a night out or a big football game. My waist dwindled, but so did my friendships and my mental health. I had finally made running a habit—a dangerous one. A near-miss with a serious injury was my breaking point, and I never stepped on that treadmill again.

After all this apathy and drama and then apathy again, I had understandably resigned myself to the fact that running and I just do not mix. But I woke up one day a couple of years ago and, much like Forrest Gump, just felt like running. And I decided to capitalize on that rare spark of motivation by doing it right, taking it very slow, and enlisting some outside help. With this more measured, low-key approach, I realized that running wasn't just doable—it was cathartic. A couple of months later, I completed my first 5k.

It would be a complete lie to say I love running now. I love the feeling after I run, and while I like the act of running sometimes, "tolerate" is probably a better word. I'll still occasionally go weeks without doing it all. But when I get that restless feeling to pound the pavement, I now know how to harness that in the right way and make it last. The habit is there—it's just a matter of taking it from dormant to active.

But to do so, I rely on an arsenal of tricks to help breed that perfect storm of motivation. These are the tips I swear by to make running a habit, even if you've spent a lifetime hating it. 

What's your relationship with running like? Tell us your story (and tips!) in the comments below!