Reasons They Don’t Run

couch-potatoes-couch-potato-assignment-demotivational-poster-1267906928I was perusing #ukrunchats fastest hour of the week on Sunday night when Juliet McGrattan asked the important question, ‘How do I encourage patients to take up exercise?‘. I had just published my 8th blog on ‘Reasons we Run’ and my head made that peculiar sideways leap it sometimes does. What was really being asked by the good Dr is why people don’t run? I live with 2 non runners and 2 and a half years ago I was firmly in their number. So bear with me while I shock and offend and try to get back into the mindset of that strange and mysterious beast the non-runner.
Becoming a runner involves joining a clan, a family, a gang if you like, and any major change of allegiance will have some resistance built in. If you belong to the clan of good time, easy going, pizza when I want it, TV remote permanently gripped, nothing too demanding, and all my desires satiated immediately lifestyle, then why change a good thing? Getting what I want when I want it is very pleasurable, and why shouldn’t I have maxresdefaultnice things? Why would you change to do something that looks so hard? Runners have to be healthy and eat woodchip while being banned from even looking at cake. Skinny little Lycra clad bastards that they are, and why when I see them sanctimoniously jogging past do they always look like they are having such a miserable time? Easy happy life or hard miserable life? Not really much of a choice when you look at it like that.
Then there are memories of school and the horrific and competitive games lessons. I always thought of myself as a nice artistic and cerebral guy, much more concerned with helping my fellow human beings than taking the piss and abusing them. So much did I identify with the anti-jocks of the world, that when I came 3rd in a cross country run at primary school, and was asked if I wanted to join the team I turned it down. I wasn’t going to sit in the corner of the changing room on my own while that pack of Neanderthals sniggered and plotted ways to make my life miserable, or even join them in inflicting misery on the next weakest link. Even now it is a certainty in the mind of many a non-runner, that those jogging clubs you see, are mainly populated by skinny fanatics who meet up once a week to laugh at fat people. Do you really want to be one of them? Having so little joy in your ascetic self denying life that the best that can be done to make yourself feel better is to laugh and humiliate those that don’t share your exercise regime?
OK, so what might happen if your firmly established non running attitude wavers and you succumb to join the misery infested ranks? For a start your friends will start to look at you differently, you are now one of them. They might ask you when you are going to get your Lycra uniform, or what flavour cat litter you are going to eat? You won’t be invited out any more because you are ‘boring’, or friends thought you had training or something. Eventually you will become marginalised, and as you become ‘one of them’ your friends will gradually start to view you as the enemy of all ‘normal’ people, and you will become isolated. Not really a hard choice, continue living the easy high life with your friends, or become a miserable masochist and lose touch?
Then there is that other off putting demon waiting in the wings. What if you were to fail? When it comes to light that your first 5k took 47 minutes the piss taking commences. ‘I could crawl it faster than that’, ‘I bet you looked like a blob wheezing round the park’ etc.. It’s hard to be crap at something, especially when you have given up so much simply by getting off the couch. It’s embarrassing, dressed in unfamiliar clothes doing unfamiliar things with all your friends and family looking at you, some of them willing you to fail so they can be right about the whole exercise thing.
runnerAll of these can be reasons that people do not run, and of course as we runners know most of the fears are unfounded and the perceptions are myths. Yes I can look miserable towing it round Parkrun as fast as I can, but the high of a PB is out of this world. The support from the community is also fantastic, we love other runners whether it is they are starting a Learn to Run course or they are county champion. The competition is all against yourself, however much you may wind up others about being quicker or slower it is your own time that counts. Of course to find this out though you first need to bite the bullet overcome the inertia and become a runner.

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