“I Can’t Run” And Other Tales We Tell Ourselves

10 sentences my marathon-runner husband no longer utters


Source: NBCUniversal Media

For the first 12 years of our marriage, my husband told me he couldn’t run because he had “bad knees.” Last March, he ran the LA Marathon. Did his knees shatter? Crack? Slip out of place, causing NLS (noodle leg syndrome)? Nope. Thanks to a change in his mind-set and a smart training program, his knees held up like glorious slabs of igneous rock. So well, in fact, that he’s training for his second marathon right now. His knees? Still glorious.

Before we became runners, most of us had a thousand excuses why we didn’t (or couldn’t) run. We’re gathered here today to examine those excuses. Maybe a few of them sound familiar to you. If so, we challenge you to challenge them. And then, if running isn’t for you, we’ll back off–we promise! Here’s what we used to tell ourselves, and everyone else:

1. “I have bad knees.”

Actually, chances are your knees are probably fine. Your grandma and your Debbie Downer inner voice may tell you that your knees can’t take the pounding, but that’s probably not true. For those who categorically proclaim that running is bad for your knees, they’re wrong. Unless you have knee issues or have undergone extensive knee surgery, running is not inherently bad for your knees. In fact, some research indicates it puts no more pressure on your knees than walking. Other studies show it actually helps decrease knee pain. Take the Osteoarthritis Initiative, funded by the National Institutes of Health and some pharmaceutical companies, which followed 2,637 participants over eight years. In short, the study found that as they aged, runners had less radiographic evidence of arthritis of the knee than those who didn’t run.

2. “I don’t like to run.”

Are you sure? Have you tried it? Really tried it? Like more than once? Because it gets easier and more fun as you get stronger, and “runner’s high” is a real thing. Can you say “payoff”?

3. “I get tired even driving 5 miles.”

First of all, it’s not that funny, and second of all, you really need to increase your driving stamina, man. Ironically, many people report having increased energy after starting a running program.

4. “I look weird when I run.”

Well, you might–I probably do–but who cares? You’re on the move–you’ll be gone in a few seconds. If those tai chi people in the park can do what they do (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), you can run.

5. “My floppy parts flop too much.”

Guys, they have compression shorts to address that issue, and gals, they have great sports bras that hold everything steady.

6. “I might chafe.”

A-ha! So you have tried running! There’s a work-around for almost any discomfort issue you can come up with. Try longer shorts, a different size or brand of sports bra, a T-shirt instead of tank, a tank instead of a T-shirt, a tech tee instead of cotton, etc. Use Vaseline or BodyGlide.

7. “Running is boring.”

Not when you’ve got “Hamilton” playing in your earbuds or you’re engrossed in a conversation with your running buddy Frank.

8. “My friend ran a half marathon, and he said it was a horrible experience and that he would never do it again.”

Maybe your friend didn’t train, or he ate a gallon of ice cream before he started, or his heart just wasn’t in it. Whatever the case, don’t let someone else’s bad experience influence your choices.

9. “I don’t have a runner’s body. Runners have to look like Carl Lewis or Paula Radcliffe.”

The truth is that the vast majority of runners I’ve seen at races are mere mortals like you and me–regular people with regular bodies who set a goal, trained for it, and then achieved that goal–something they’ll be proud of for the rest of their lives.

10. “I’d rather walk.”

Fair enough, but maybe just give running a try. There’s nothing like the endorphin rush–and the awesome sweat–you get as a reward for your effort.

Have we convinced you to give running a whirl? If so, great. If not, no problem.

Just remember the example of my husband, he of the “bad knees.” You may be thinking he started running after years of me nagging him, but that’s not how it went down. He watched me run for fun with friends, he cheered me on at the finish line of four full marathons and a few half marathons, and one day he simply decided he wanted some of that bliss. And now he has that joy…plus some medals and a strong pair of knees to show for it.  


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