Over the past several years, since I became involved on my high school (and eventually college) track team, I have been met with the same cycle of responses on a seemingly unending loop. Whenever friends or family members or other random peers that are non-runners learn that I am a distance runner, I hear a variation of several different replies. I have compiled a short-list of replies:
- “That’s amazing. I couldn’t even run a mile.”
- “I wish I could do that. But I can’t because [insert dismissable medical excuse].”
- “I try to do it but I’m so busy.”
With the exception of certain variations of the medical excuse, I do not accept any of these as acceptable reasons as to why a person cannot run for fitness on a regular basis.
At the risk of sounding stern, it is my sincere opinion that anyone that does not have a crippling physical condition can sustain a jog and/or run for one mile. This was not always my opinion, when I was not much younger than I am now I felt that the physical exertion that when into running a mile was something that only someone of decent athletic capacity would be able to accomplish. I most likely formed this mentality as a result of my own sub-par level of physical fitness. However, several years ago I saw something that completely changed my opinion. I had already begun my journey as a distance runner and became interested in the life-changing exercise accounts of others. With this mind-set, surfing through the TV channels one day my interest was piqued by a VH1 reality show entitled “Celebrity Fit Club”. Watching season 1, the cast of celebrities included actor Daniel Baldwin, rapper Biz Markie and “Last Comic Standing” comedian Ralphie May; who weighed in at well over 400 pounds at the beginning of the season. During one of the episodes, the celebrities had to do a long run and were encourage to continue running for the entirety of the distance. Just watching Ralphie May I became exhausted, him having such an overwhelming excess of weight to contend with, hindering his every movement. But to my complete and utter shock, Ralphie maintained jogging form for an entire mile. If a man that weighs significantly over 400 pounds can mantain a jog for an entire mile, healthy average-weight individuals should be ashamed at saying that they cannot do the same.
Additionally, I have heard my fair share of medical excuses as to why individuals are unable to run regularly. One excuse that I hear fairly frequently is asthma. I do not have asthma, so I am in no position to question the physical capabilities of others that do. But to be fair, I have had many past (and current) teammates who have varying severities of asthma and choose to compete anyways. Though I accept asthma as a legitimate excuse for people being unable to run, one excuse I do not accept is a person being flat-footed. The primary reason that I do not accept this excuse is the fact that I myself am completely flat-footed a choose to run anyways. In one particular scenario, I encountered an individual who told me this excuse to which I quickly rebottled that I am completely flat-footed. After hearing this, the person tried to argue with me that he is more flat-footed than I am. I tried to reason with him that there is no possible way for him to be more flat-footed than myself as I have absolutely no semblance of an arch and the best thing that he could hope for was that we are equal in our flat-footedness, yet he still insisted that his flat-footedness trumped my own. The only way that I can see a person being flat-footed as a valid excuse for him or her not being able to run is if the person’s arch goes so low that it actually extends past the bottom of the foot, in which case the person is not longer flat-footed but rather has a reverse-arch.
By far my least favorite excuse that I have heard for people being unable to run is the fact that they are “too busy” to fit in time in their hectic schedule to manage running regularly. As a subscriber to “Runner’s World” magazine, I have read countless stories about individuals who work full-time but still manage to pull themselves out of bed at 5 in the morning (or earlier) to get in a run before work. As a college student, I can attest to the fact that 99% of my fellow students do not have academic and organizational responsibilities that totally prevent them from being able to run on a regular basis. During the most intense position of my training in preparation for the cross-country championship season, I must balance academics and club duties with an 80+ mile a week training regime – and if I can manage this arduous training schedule, the typical college student can manage classes along with a few runs here and there, peppered throughout his or her weekly rountine. It has always been my opinion that (with college students) people have time for what they want to have time for, and if they do not want to run on a regular basis they will intentionally stack obstacles in the way to prevent themselves from being able to do so. Hence, people are quick to blame their schedules or their workload or their other obligations for not making time to exercise when really it is their fault for making choices that led to the conception of their current rigorous routines.
Personally, I have absolutely nothing against individuals who make excuses as to why they are unable to run. Many of my best friends have no interest in physical fitness or running, and I do not find their lack of interest to be a hindrance to our friendship. Yet I do think it is worthy of note that many of the people I have encountered since I started running on a regular basis have felt it necessary to explain to me why they are unable to run rather than to just come out and say “I’m lazy, that’s why I don’t run”, which I am completely fine with. But my advice to any individuals who are physical capable of running but still make excuses for why it is nearly impossible for them to do so is: if you choose not to run then that is your choice, but choosing not to do something isn’t the same as when you can’t.