Becoming a Runner: One FBG Reader’s Journey

becoming a runner

Becoming a runner one step at a time. Credit: laura dye

We get so many inspiring emails from readers, and today we’re sharing another reader success story with you! Read on for Brigid McCarthy’s inspiring story on becoming a runner. And feel free to share yours!

I used to be one of those pedestrians who would gaze enviously at the runners in my neighborhood, making comments like, “Ugh, running.” Correction: I still am one of those people. While I’m making my lazy self become a runner, I’m envious about the fact that they make it look so easy. So, I’m working on it!

I’ve always been active. I played sports throughout high school and college and getting exercise has never seemed like a chore to me. Running, however, is a different story. Whenever the coach had us line up along the base line, my stomach would sink. I’m not bad at short distances—I was always one of the fastest kids in the base-run competition in my little-league field days. But longer distances that require endurance? Forget it.

After I graduated college and entered the “real world,” I knew my old lifestyle wasn’t going to cut it. I had put on some weight in college (by senior year the “weekends” were Wednesday through Sunday, five days of binging and boozing) and was going to have my first desk job. Sitting for eight hours a day didn’t bode well for my waistline. But more importantly, the indifferent attitude I had toward runners my whole life was a lie. I wanted to be a runner. I just didn’t think I could become one. I thought runners were born with some intrinsic trait in them that allowed them to pound the pavement with ease and assurance—not made that way through time-tested resolve, battling the treadmill and the elements day after day.

My sisters and I were planning a visit home back in March and realized that it coincided with the Shamrock Run, a four-mile race around our old neighborhood. I had done this the previous year, when I lived at home, and my finishing time was atrocious. I started out running, and ended up walking most of it—which is nothing to be ashamed of if you don’t work out all that much—but I frequented the gym five to six times a week. Why couldn’t I run for more than five consecutive minutes?!

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  1. Brigid says:

    My name is Brigid too, so I just had to read this story. Big congrats to getting over that initial hurdle and for sticking with it to train for Boston! Amazing! I remember when I first started running back in high school (I tagged along with a college student who I idolized on her runs), and building up to 20 minutes was HUGE. Once you get used to it though, you never go back 🙂

  2. Suzanne says:

    Brigid-Thanks for sharing your story! I have found myself very envious of the people running around the neighborhood or down main streets so early on a Saturday morning too. Isn’t a nice to enjoy running more than before?!

  3. Kari says:

    As I am sitting here reading your story I am just short of putting on my sneakers and heading out for a ‘jog’. I say ‘jog’ because to me that means short jogging stints with a lot of brisk walking mixed into it. I have been going on and on about starting to jog for a few weeks now and finally I thought this would be the day. I am a little far off the runner’s mark but a slow easy jog should be okay to start with. I also found myself wishing I could be a runner and maybe today will be a good day to start.
    Thank goodness I found your post-this has given me the kick up my behind to just go and get it done!

  4. Laura says:

    What a great article! I am basically in the same boat you are – I “started” running after a 5k with my boyfriend and his mother. I’m glad I’m not the only one it doesn’t come easy for :). I’m right there with you on the mental battle to make myself a runner. Thanks for sharing!

  5. L Marie says:

    I enjoyed your thoughts here and I am 9 days away from running my second 5K. I just wanted to share the following: “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”
    –John Bingham

    Wishing you well…~L Marie

  6. Michele says:

    I enjoyed this article also! I am 42 and just started running – initially to support my 52 year old sister in her attempt at “couch potato to 5K”! I still am doing intervals – 6 mins run and 1 min walk for 5 rounds, and it will take me a while to get even better, but I don’t want to give up! I have just started pushing my body in the last year and a half when I began HIIT (High intensity interval training) in addition to more strength training – that really helped me with my endurance. I have always loved to do some kind of exercise but never really pushed myself – I always did the minimum! I told my husband that I love running because it is hard for me, and I’ve never been willing to do physically hard exercise in the past! I hope I can keep advancing – may never do a marathon or even a half, but for me to be running 30 mins with only a few 1 min walks here and there, is a huge accomplishment! Good luck to you – keep it up! Maybe we will be true ‘runners” someday – but I already feel like one to a degree!!!!

  7. Laura says:

    Back in high school and first year university I was running 10K easily and loving it. Then school and life started to get more complicated, and I completely fell off the boat. I started running again this summer, and every single day is tough for me, but I get through it by remembering how much I will love running again once I get over the initial hurdle of getting back into it. I’m only up to running 5 minutes before I need a walk break, but every extra second is worth it!

  8. Loved reading your journey. I used to see people running in my neighborhood and judgmental thoughts would run through my head about various things — he runs funny, or look at her clothes. I recognize now that those judgments were really just a sign of envy because they were doing something I wanted to do, but couldn’t seem to find the motivation.

    I’m still not a runner, but I’d like to be! And I’m making progress, because rather than judge the runners I see, I actually now get inspired by them and think they’re amazing!

  9. Faith says:

    I live in Orlando and work in the tourism industry and the folks that I watch get up daily on their vacation and run amaze me and inspire me. They make me want to become a runner….

  10. Sara says:

    I love this post. Congratulations on your goals and cheers to the others you have and or will set.

    I have always wanted to be a runner too. I am so envious of those who can just go outside and run. About three years ago I was doing the Couch to 5k program and loving it. I got to the last run of the program (week 9 day 3) and about 15 minutes into my run my right knee gave out. and I couldn’t push through the run. After seeing doctors and going to physical therapy I learned it wasn’t my knee but a weak core and IT Band issues. I basically gave up and figured it just wasn’t for me and yet every morning I would see the same guy in the same bright orange running shoes and dream that I could do that… run again.

    Fast forward to this year and after gaining 20lbs through stress and depression; I decided I wanted to run again. I found an 8week home program to strengthen my core and five weeks ago, I started the C25k program again. Fearful of my knees I have done a lot of education about my core and stretching my hips and I too yell to my husband that I am running pain free and how amazing that is. I run on the treadmill – with our weather and my long days at work it’s the only way I can get a run in but my goal is to move longer runs on the weekend outside. I am seriously contemplating signing up for a half marathon in April. The thought of running a half is both scary and full of exhilaration.