Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

Non-Runners: Stop Making Dumb Excuses Not to Run


Photo stolen from WIRED Magazine

“I don’t run unless it’s away from something. Like…a zombie.”

Such is the absolute stupidest, and most common, excuse to avoid running that I have ever heard. I’ll be in some social situation or another and someone will ask me a question about running. And sometimes, before I even answer, I’m smacked in the face with this ridiculous statement. Sometimes it is varied (but equally stupid) and sounds more like: “the only time I run is after my child…like, if he gets hold of a butcher knife or something.”

I’m sorry if you’ve said it to me in the past and I’m insulting you…well, actually no I’m not sorry. I mean it. And if you’re a friend of mine you’re probably a pretty smart person, which makes this an even more insanely dumb thing for you to say.

First of all, if a zombie was chasing you, you wouldn’t be running….you’d be sprinting. And most runners don’t sprint, anyway. That’s a completely different sport that even I don’t really understand. Second, if the first and only time you ever run is at the start of a zombie apocalypse you wouldn’t make it a block before you became a screaming, bloody mid-afternoon snack.

But I digress.

Some of the other dopey excuses that I’ve heard from people who refuse to try running are the following:

I don’t run because I have bad knees
Truth is, you don’t run because you have bad knees, and you have bad knees because you don’t run. Also, you’ve spent years in cushioned shoes that have fostered your poor posture and shitty running/walking form. Or perhaps you have an injury from way back in high school when you played sports. What kind of shoes were you wearing then? Corrective cushioned shoes? I figured. Strengthen your feet, straighten out your posture, fix your form, and you might discover that your knees aren’t as “bad” as you thought.

Running is bad for you
I hear a lot of this crap from the pro-orthotics camp. They stuff these ridiculous custom orthotics into their cushioned shoes to splint their feet indefinitely, closing them up from the sensory environment they were meant to thrive in. These folks have lumpy, weak feet and legs and therefore running hurts them. Then they read some study from other pro-orthotic folks on the frequency of running injuries (among shod runners), and conclude that running must be bad.

It’s just plain wrong, guys. Some animals are made for walking (like cows), and some are for running (like cats). Humans are built to run. We have features all over our bodies that are there to be used for the act of running alone. Running isn’t what’s bad for you…not running is bad for you. Your sedentary life is bad for you (and not just because it’ll make you fail to outrun zombies). Modern society allows us to sit on our ever-growing asses almost all the time, parked in front of computers or bad reality television, stuffing ourselves with artery-clogging processed foods that we drove our cars 4 blocks down the road to pick up at the supermarket. Most people basically do everything they can to never have to move their bodies. And then they pass a runner in their car and shake their heads because “running is bad for you.”

I have to lose weight before I’ll try running
I don’t even think I need to explain why this is stupid. But postponing exercise to lose weight is surprisingly common. Heck, I’ve even done it. Super diets like Weight Watchers and Slim-Fast try to make you believe that you can lose weight and be healthy without ever exercising. And well, it’s partly true – losing weight is really all about taking in less calories than you burn, but that has nothing to do with being healthy.

If you sit on your ass all day long, you don’t need very many calories at all. But chances are you’ll be kinda hungry if you only get, say, 1,100 calories per day. And that usually yields one or more of these results: your body goes into starvation mode and significantly reduces your metabolism to conserve calories, effectively slowing weight loss; You fail the diet because you eventually give up and eat four hamburgers to avoid passing out from hunger; Or you resort to living on low calorie, high-carb diet junk crap which is full of simple sugars and has absolutely no dietary significance. Then, the second you hit your goal weight and have to go back to “normal” eating, you don’t even know what that is so you make all the same wrong choices you used to make and in less than three months you’re back where you started again.

How about this time you eat some real food, up the calories so you’re not starving and add in some daily exercise? Or even better, stop dieting to get skinny. That’s all bullshit, anyway. You don’t have to be skinny. I’m not skinny. Just be healthy and active. The rest will follow eventually.

I’m bad at running, I can’t even run a mile
This is probably the dumbest of all the dumb excuses. You don’t run at all, so of course you can’t run a mile, stupid. In my opinion, the All-American addiction to immediate gratification is really getting out of hand. I’m the sort of person who loves working up to my successes. I love the idea of taking a low-end job at first and working my way up to the top. I take pride in the fact that I was given practically nothing in childhood, but have made so much of myself as an adult. Nothing makes me happier than the repayment of lots and lots of hard work toward my goal – especially in running. And I still have so much farther to go in running, which keeps me motivated. But I’m different from a lot of people. Most kids want to barely graduate college but expect their first job to be CEO of Apple. And they want to be able to lace up their Nike’s for the first time, take a left at the end of their driveway and run 5 miles at 8:30 pace. And if those things don’t happen right away, it’s time to pack it in and start blaming the world for being so unfair. You guys all give up on shit way too easily. Also, I think you’re too comfortable with being mediocre.

Hey, we all make excuses for shit. I tell people that my lawn is ugly because nobody taught me how to care for a lawn and I can’t afford a gardener. But that’s just an excuse. The truth is I’m overwhelmed by how shitty my yard already was when we moved in, and I’m too indifferent about lawn care in general to waste an entire spring weekend working in my back yard. Excuses are essentially lies. Lies we tell ourselves and others so that we can circumvent our own guilt about something. I should just tell anyone who asks me why I have a crappy yard that I don’t give much of a shit about it and I don’t spend any time in it anyway. The trails are my backyard.

I wish people would be more truthful about why they don’t run, rather than making these dumb excuses. If people were more truthful, they could give me the real reasons why they won’t ever try to run (unless something is chasing them):

  • I’m too lazy to exercise
  • I don’t want to do anything that’s difficult
  • I can’t handle an endeavor that doesn’t have immediate positive results
  • I refuse to try running barefoot or take the time to learn correct form
  • I would rather conform to the idea that running sucks

But of course nobody will say that to me. It sounds lazy and defeatist. And if they were to admit to themselves that they’re just being lazy and defeatist about running, they’d have nothing left but to change their ways.

Of course I realize that for most of my readers, I’m just singing to the choir. What other dumb excuses have you heard from people who refuse to try running?

9 thoughts on “Non-Runners: Stop Making Dumb Excuses Not to Run

  1. AMEN! You are preaching to the choir, but goodness, I couldn’t agree with you more! The one thing I hear all the time that drives me nuts is when people compare this unreachable goal to running a marathon. I always get offended, and say, “Dude, I HAVE run a marathon. It is possible, and YOU are making excuses.” The backpeddling they try to do to save themselves always makes me laugh. I guess they didn’t realize they were talking to a runner, much less someone who loves to run long distance! 🙂

  2. As someone who doesn’t really love to run, and is doing it anyway, well, yeah, stupid excuses are stupid excuses! I try not to kid myself. I haven’t lost my 30lbs of baby weight after 15 months because I like sugar, booze, and food in general. But I didn’t let it stop me from starting to run, and I’m happy I have! I’ll be in my first 5K next weekend, and will be happy to finish. Then maybe I’ll take on food. ;-D

  3. Well put…great points and I completely agree. I’ve been guilty of using some of these lame excuses myself in the past. The only thing I would offer as a clarification is that as a former user of Weight Watchers, it is a program that credits you if you add exercise to your routine. It is encouraged and worthwhile by giving you additional “points” if you add it in. It follows a pretty elemental approach: if you exercise, you can eat more than if you don’t. Not that this should be the sole reason that you should exercise; it is just one of the many benefits.

    Nice post!

    • Yes! I was on WW for several years, in fact, and you’re totally right. They do give you those extra points if you exercise. However, the fact I was pointing out is that to WW, exercise is still considered optional. The product they sell is a diet, not an exercise program – so more emphasis is put on the diet of the individual than the amount of exercise.

      Good points, Travis! Thanks for reading.

  4. I love this! I’ve heard it all before as well. Just do it!

  5. Pingback: Think Running is Boring? Then Go Find Some Trails. « Barefoot Monologues

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