Food & Fitness

A (Recurring) Brief and Torrid Love Affair with Running

We all have them. An exercise we just love to hate (or hate to love). The one that makes us feel like we’re going to die, to use Jillian Michaels’ expression. But we do it anyway because it’s good for us, or because every so often we really do kind of like it. Mine, as I have both griped about and glorified many times before, is running.

It’s been nearly a year since I was training to run the half marathon. I stopped training when I realized that I didn’t enjoy running, had only been using it as a way to deal with depression, and I had ultimately lost interest. Once every couple months I’ll feel the urge to run (no longer linked to depression, no worries there!), so I’ll get out there and let out my energy, and that’s that for another couple months. It holds me over until I decide again that I do enjoy running, which lasts a few days before the dreading of it begins once more. And the cycle continues.

For some people it’s walking. Or lifting weights. Or burpees, or core work. Our bodies never respond in the same way, as evidenced upon my arrival in Cambodia. My father dear, for example, can’t stand the heat of this place, and I bask in it. We would have done much better this past winter had our positions been reversed- he in the freezing cold of Winnipeg, and I in the steaming heat of Phnom Penh. I don’t think we’ll ever quite understand how the other can survive in our respective preferred climates.

And so it is that while some people can run every day and continue to feel motivated and exhilarated by it, my body isn’t quite so keen on it (for the majority of the time). And yet: last week, somehow I was on the treadmill running my little heart out three times. The thought even crossed my mind to start training again for a race, thinking to myself that if I can run on an incline for 30 minutes in a hot gym (I’m skeptical about this so-called air conditioning… once the treadmills going if anything it feels like the heats turned on!), after not having been out running in a couple months, then surely I can build myself up to be able to run an hour and a half no problem. Or 2 hours! Wouldn’t that be my ultimate challenge, because I have such an on-off relationship with the sport?

…the next day, I walked on that inclined treadmill instead of running. The dream dissipated. My triumphant runners high, my brief love affair, abruptly ended, as usual.

But I see now that it’s no good to continue avoiding running. If I don’t find a race to run, this is one form of exercise that is going to continue to pester me. I’ll learn to love it, I’ll accept that I dislike it, or I’ll come out the other side with a total indifference to it, but the only way I’m going to sot out my feelings about running is to step up to the challenge.

Last year I was perhaps a little too ambitious. Running a half marathon comes across as tedious and daunting to this walker-lover. I think that a simple, short 5 or 10 k race would be the perfect wee hurdle to leap over and add to my merry list of challenges. Upon deciding this, yesterday I went for another run. I managed 4.5 km in half an hour on an incline, so I know that if I can do that much in this oppressive heat I can run a 5k race back in Winnipeg no problem.

So I’m on the look-out for a 5 or 10 k race near my home in Winnipeg. I don’t know what will happen after that, but a 5-10 k race will be found and conquered, at least to begin with.

What’s the one exercise that makes you scream blue murder each time you do it? Is there a sport that you both love and hate? Or one which you have some history with that you need to deal with to stop the ghosts from haunting you? Any pointers from the runners out there would be much appreciated (and if you hear of a good short race taking place in Winnipeg any time soon, you’ll let me know, won’t you?).


  1. charlotte

    I think it’s helpful to remember that exercise goes in phases. Sometimes I’m super energetic and motivated and nothing will do but a great run. Other times I just love to walk and enjoy the feeling of being outside. I think both are fine – you don’t have to stick to one or the other!

    PS> I’m like you – LOVE heat and am so cold intolerant.

  2. Holly

    That is so exciting! Running is my one true love…but I can understand how it is definitely not for everyone. I WISH that I was passionate about lifting – it is just not my thing. I have to force myself to go to the gym those days…but I ALWAYS remind myself of how I’ll feel afterwards.

    Same with swimming…it’s not “my thing,” but I always appreciate it that much more when I’m done. I tell myself it’s good for me to involve SOME exercise that I don’t love – otherwise I’d just be all running, all the time. And variety is the spice of life. 🙂

    Good luck with the running! I completely agree – 5k’s and 10k’s are perfect. Hopefully there will be a lot to choose from!

  3. Danielle

    I couldn’t agree with you enough about running… although I’ve found that once I get my stamina up I actually enjoy it, getting there is such a pain in the a** 🙂 good luck with your modified running goals, I’m thinking of doing a 5k soon as well!

  4. Hil

    Thank you for this post…I really appreciate its honesty. I have a love hate relationship with pilates and stationary bike workouts. Running, I confess, is mostly a hate deal for me. 🙂

  5. Stewbacca

    1. Tell yourself to run for 10 minutes. That’s all you’re required to do. After 10, if you still feel like going, keep going. If not, so what… you still did 10. More often than not, once you get past that, you’ll be good to go another 30.

    2. The only race I have planned this year is Run for Rights ( It has a whole bunch of charities to raise money for that all seem good to me. You can specify which you want to raise for or just split it evenly between them. Also, though they recommend an entrance fee of $25, you can give what you can if that’s too steep. There’s a choice between 5 and 10 km that starts and ends at Kildonan Park.

  6. Pubsgal

    I used to hate running (and thought I didn’t care much for exercising). Health concerns made exercise mandatory, and I found an article about running that inspired me to work up to a 5K. It turned out to be my “gateway drug” into a whole world of fitness fun. 😉 I’ve diversified (am now training for a sprint tri!), but I still run enough to making doing the quarterly 5K race a lot of fun.

  7. Dr. J

    Hi Sagan!

    I’ve been running for years. It’s the foundation of my fitness, both mental and physical. Some people are not meant to run, but usually you can train yourself to be one. It’s very important to have good form, run on softer surfaces with good cushioned shoes, and not run too far. 5-10 miles at a time is more than enough for anybody. Most marathon runners get injured. I learned to train for life, not a race. The results seem to be pretty good so far 🙂

  8. Michelle

    You are a wonderful writer! I’m currently training for a half-marathon (and a sprint tri) and keep asking myself WHY!

    A 5K is a great way to start easing back into running. Keep up the great work!

  9. Sagan Morrow

    Charlotte- so very true. So much depends on the mood.

    Holly- I love variety. That feeling you get after exercising, even if its something we don’t really enjoy, is definitely worth it!

    Danielle- wanna be my virtual running buddy? 🙂

    Hil- ahaha, yes, there are some exercises that are near impossible to “get into”!

    Stewbacca- thanks so much for the information! Doing it in smaller increments is a very good idea too.

    Pubsgal- am in awe of your tri. That is SO cool.

    Dr. J- ooh I love that philosophy, running for life rather than a race. That’s the way to stay safe while running for sure.

    Michelle- thanks! And super exciting about your training, that’ll be such an accomplishment.

  10. healthy ashley

    Great post, Sagan. I definitely go through my phases with running (although overall I love it!). I’ve even been cheating on running with my bike (shh)!

    I think that this back and forth, love/hate thing is exactly why we should include many types of exercise into our routines. It keeps things exciting!

    Good luck!

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