Why do I want to run?

I decided to try some running maybe 15 years ago, and it was terrible. My cardio fitness was really bad, and my muscles weren’t fit enough either. It was an awful experience and I gave it up, thinking running wasn’t for me.

But last year, after 7 months of strength training, I was inspired to try again. And then, being more fit, I really enjoyed it and felt it was a pleasant exercise form that I could do more of.

But since then, I’ve struggled. The first thing that happened was knee tendonitis. But I didn’t give up. In November I tried again, and have been out regularly to build up my running. And when I finally had a breakthrough, I got another injury.

Then my first thought actually was, again, “Maybe running isn’t for me?”
But that thought lasted for a second only. Because this time I know that I WANT to be able to run, I SHOULD be able to run, and that running makes me happy. My Jävlaranamma mode set in again, and the new injury became another trigger to do my very best to get back out there running.

Apparently running has a much steeper learning curve than I thought. But haven’t I learned hard things before? And I’m not disabled. So why couldn’t I learn to run without getting injuries? Other people have done it, also people who started at this age. And I have a good coach to support me with advice and strengthening exercises. It should be doable.

But why? Why do I do this to myself and what’s so special about running?

Very valid questions.


The first why

The most important why is that it makes me happy. It’s a fantastic stress-reliever, mood-lifter, and going out for a run is a wonderfully refreshing start of the day. And it’s an exercise form that lets me go out and enjoy the West Cork scenery, and at the same time improve my cardiovascular fitness.

The second why

Another why is my attitude – throughout my adult life, my attitude has been that you never know what’s possible until you’ve tried. And if people say something is impossible or too hard, it triggers me to prove them wrong, because most of it has been about normal things that people actually do and succeed at. And in the running context, our bodies are even made for it. The only thing is that I’m almost 50, and I’ve accumulated injuries and dysfunctional muscles over the years of being inactive, been involved in accidents, and having jobs that are tough on the body. But I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t be able to run, with the right training.

These days, if something is hard but I know I should be able to do it, then I’m determined to work to be able to do it.

The third why

This may not be a reason why I want to run, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about, and it’s relevant when it comes to performance.

When I was in school, I was that kid people laughed at because I was so bad at sports (and not only). I was small, slow, clumsy and bad at handling balls. Still all kids had to do the same things no matter their skills, and PE class was the perfect place for bullying and people pointing fingers and laughing at others. I often wonder how many people have been crushed by this PE setup and if schools still do it this way, if they’ve learned nothing?

That experience made me less interested in sports and training. Of course, because I already knew I couldn’t do it. People are taught maths, history and all that in school, but I was also taught, aka brainwashed, to believe I was worthless. It was only later in life I became interested in strength training, because my sister inspired me, and it was a “safe” sport where nobody could judge me.

I believe my experience in PE class is what makes me struggle with gym exercises that require a good sense of balance, because my head wants to tell me I can’t do it – that’s what I was taught in school. Thinking rationally, it’s possible those exercises require more strength than balance, but my head still tells me otherwise.

However, as an adult, I’ve developed a certain drive, courage, grit. How else would I sing and play in public? The truth is that I really dislike being in the centre of attention, but my passion for music is stronger than that, and if you sing, then you’re naturally in the centre of attention and that’s that. Playing music for people is scary but it also gives me a kick, and although I still struggle with self-confidence and go into crisis with it now and then, music usually gives me a feeling of achievement.

Over the past year as I’ve seen the results of strength training, I’ve also become more confident that my body can do more than I think, and this is where running comes in. From being inactive, after consistent strength training, I can now lift heavy weights, I can do deadlifts of 43 kgs, also after a knee injury a few months ago. So of course I should be able to run with the right training, and I can come back also after this injury. This new setback kicked my attitude to the ground for a little bit but then it gave increased motivation to fight back, keep working towards reaching the goal of being a runner, because WTF? I can do this.

I don’t even have any big goal to run marathons (for now), but I want to be fit and be able to run simply because it makes me happy and because I should be able to do it.

And those bullies from years ago may be chubby couch potatoes by now, who knows.

This week I’m only doing physiotherapy and strength training, because of an odd foot injury, caused by who knows what but my PT found my ankle mobility is poor, among other things. I have new physio homework, some advice on running technique for later, and I’m not giving up.

I’m joining Denyse Whelan’s Wednesday words & pics link-up.

Wednesday's words and pics

18 responses to “Why do I want to run?”

  1. Georgina Caro : Gypsy Soul avatar


    Popping over from ‘Wednesday Words & Pics’. I’ve always loved the idea of running but I definitely don’t have the body for it. My sister, however, loves it! Keep up the great work. I love your determination 🙂

    1. Susanne avatar

      Hi there, thanks for coming by! When I went over to check out your blog I recognised it, I actually read it years ago (or maybe not so many years), I can’t remember why I stopped. Anyway – thank you, and apparently my body doesn’t think it’s the body for running either, but I’m working on changing that. We’ll see how it goes.

  2. Joanne avatar

    OH yes, I have so many awful memories of gym class! I actually made it a point to show everyone how much I didn’t try and didn’t like gym so they’d think I was awful at sports on purpose. I had zero hand/eye coordination and hated running (I was very large chested very early on and running was a no go around middle/high school boys!). I still find that I much prefer exercising alone at home or hiking through the woods— forms of exercise where I don’t really have to “perform” at all.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Oh, I can imagine that was hard in middle school. You had a much more gutsy attitude than I had, I was just miserable while you pretended to not try! And I totally get it that you prefer to exercise alone. It’s sad, isn’t it. When I went to regular gyms, I always preferred to go at times when there were very few people there and I wouldn’t feel like people were looking at me. Last year when I started with my personal trainer, I thought about it differently because I knew he must be used to meeting people who are inactive and out of shape. Now I realise what a rewarding job that must be, to see his clients develop over time.

  3. Sue from Women Living Well After 50 avatar

    Oh Susanne you and I have so much in common and I wish we lived close by so we could run together. At school I gym class and sports were definitely not my forte. I did ballet and dance. It wasn’t until I was 50 until I was encouraged to run by younger friends and I’ve never looked back. You go girl and I will support you from afar. xx

    1. Susanne avatar

      Aw that would be wonderful to run together with you! It’s so inspiring to read your story and how you also started at 50, that gives me hope for sure. I wonder if you were more fit because of the ballet? That must give some good training for ankles and feet.

  4. Joanne Tracey avatar

    Yep, hand in the air here too re PE. Last person picked, hopeless at anything requiring hand-eye coordination and balance & no grace at all. It colours all the years later regarding sports and exercise. I could, however, swim…and did. What really annoyed me was that if you hated land sports & were no good at it, you still had to get out there and expose yourself to ridicule, but if you didn’t enjoy swimming, you didn’t have to do it. I had a go at learning to run about 10 years ago & as both an asthmatic & a swimmer struggled with breathing – it’s a completely different pattern. I persevered and did a 10km run – although really only ran about half of it. I never enjoyed it though – although my chiropractor did as it added to his cashflow lol.

    1. Susanne avatar

      That’s awful about how you were allowed to skip swimming! And in a place like Australia! Well done to doing the 10k, that’s really good. I hope to do that eventually. But if you don’t enjoy it there’s no point with doing it of course. Except your chiropractor wouldn’t agree, lol!

  5. San avatar

    I think it’s fantastic that you don’t take ‘no’ for an answer from yourself. If you set one foot in front of the other, then you’re a runner. It’s not about pace or about distance, but just the enjoyment of moving your body. I am sorry you’re dealing with injury, but I hope you can get back out there soon. For me, proper warm-up, cool down and stretching have been lifesavers. I haven’t been injured in my 8 years of running). Oh, and I also started kind of “late” (in my late 30s)…. I do not take ‘no’ for an answer either 😉

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks for the encouragement, San. You’re really spot on with the enjoyment of moving your body. I probably can do more with stretching, although I’ve been doing more of it recently, especially before a run. I’m working away with all the physio right now and hope to be back running asap.

  6. Leanne | avatar

    Hi Susanne – looking at the comments, it seems that there were a lot of us who were useless at PE in school. I was fine with team sports but completely useless at single person activities – running, jumping, athletics of any kind. I’ve tried to start running a few times and just feel so ungainly and sweaty and horrible. I’ve decided to be a walker and to enjoy exercise that way – I guess I’m sadly lacking in your grit and determination – although I do admire it wholeheartedly.

    1. Susanne avatar

      Yes, it seems like a common pattern for sure! I’m actually quite upset over how schools at least used to organise the PE (but honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they still do it like that). Athletics was horrible!! At least after the pointing fingers moment in picking people for teams, in team sports it was possible to just browse around the field doing nothing, while with athletics you had to expose yourself and your lack of skills.
      I don’t think you lack grit and determination – you just have it in different areas of life!

  7. Denyse Whelan avatar

    Puts hand up as someone who was pretty ordinary at most things athletic…came from stock where one parent was great at hockey and tennis…so I understand this well.

    As a teacher it is disheartening to hear of the judgemental comments by those who teach PE etc but guess what, they still happen. Way back in HS, our son who was small but gave everything 100% developed compartment syndrome as his bones needed to catch up with his leg growth and the orthopaedic surgeon said to stop the distance running for a while. The PE teacher refused to do that…and I took great delight in letting him know about it when it was parent-teacher interview time.

    Doing what we can, with what we have and can use is commendable.

    Thank you for your blog post shared on Wednesday’s Words and Pics this week. I do appreciate your support. I hope to see you next week too. Denyse.

    1. Susanne avatar

      My teacher didn’t judge me, but I think she was totally clueless about what effect the PE teaching style had – nothing was done to help less “competent” kids and the setup was perfect to promote bullying.
      That’s awful about your son and the compartment syndrome – so ignorant of the teacher to ignore that.

  8. Debbie Harris avatar

    I love your positive attitude Susanne and wish you well with your running. I think the first why is the best – it makes you happy! I got back into running a few years ago and really enjoyed it until I also had an injury. I haven’t really got back to it despite trying on and off, but I do enjoy walking briskly and cycling now. #wwandpics

    1. Susanne avatar

      Thanks, Debbie. Brisk walks are also very pleasant! I’d never try cycling on these roads but I’ve been thinking of getting a spin bike or rowing machine if we can figure out where to store it when we don’t use it.

  9. Anne avatar

    Good grief, kids can be cruel. I’m so sorry about what you experienced as a child (my own experiences, as a nerdy, short, underdeveloped kid) were similar. I’m so glad you found your GRIT, your Jävlaranamma (yes, I still copy-and-paste it because, let’s be honest, Swedish is not easy for this provincial American…), and just did it. You really are showing them – and you are rocking life, and training. Seriously, go you.

    1. Susanne avatar

      I can’t say I think I’m rocking life particularly! But I’m getting there. And I’m definitely showing them – and my old self.

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