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Question for runners: Are some people just not capable of running?

baskingshark2010-05-02 02:24:20 +0000 #1
At the beginning of the summer, I signed up to run in a charity 5K. Since I'm not a a "runner", I found a beginner's schedule (couch to 5k) to follow and read some running for beginners books and bought proper shoes. Before I started, one of the books advised that you should be able to walk for at least 30mins at 15mm pace before you start. I was able to do this with no difficulty.

Fast forward 18 weeks, having slavishly run 3x per week (mostly on a treadmill at the gym) following the program, I can now "run" for 30m (not even 5K) on a good day, but at about 14.5mm pace. If I try to go any faster, it just feels really hard and my HR goes through the roof (well over 85% max HR). So, after over 4 months of training, I am a just a fraction faster than I was on the first day of brisk walking.

Now, I know nobody is forcing me, and honestly, why bother, when you can get the same exercise benefits while having fun (i.e. riding my bike, or even just walking for that matter), but is it possible to just be REALLY BAD at running? Or am I doing something wrong?

Grog2010-05-02 02:29:54 +0000 #2
I am a pretty fit person in general, I cycle a lot, lots of hills, etc.

When I started running two years ago now, my HR went really high and just stayed there. It went down progressively, but it took many, many months. However I became much more comfortable doing the exercise. Now it's still about 10 beats higher than it would get from cycling for the same level of exhaustion.

Running is one of the hardest workouts you can impose on your body. It takes a long time to adjust. One way to ease up into it is by alternating running and walking. Even today, I walk a little on my long runs (over one hour). During races longer than 10K, I walk through the aid stations.

You don't say anything about your physical condition in general or about your weight. Running is also a weight-bearing exercise, and the more you have, the harder it will be. In that case, your exercise program should definitely come with a new nutrition program...

On a final note, if you haven't exercised for a long time, you might want to consider visiting your doctor and share your plans with him/her, too, just to get the green light on everything.

Good luck!

p.s. I read your message again and noted that you said that "if you try to go faster, your HR goes through the roof." That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it's called intervals training. Don't bother looking at your HR. If you feel like puking, it's too much. But stretching your comfort level is what will make you fitter... (with of course your doctor's approval)
VeloVT2010-05-02 02:36:20 +0000 #3

Originally Posted by baskingshark

Now, I know nobody is forcing me, and honestly, why bother, when you can get the same exercise benefits while having fun (i.e. riding my bike, or even just walking for that matter), but is it possible to just be REALLY BAD at running? Or am I doing something wrong?

Hi Baskingshark,

I agree with everything Grog said. Running is much harder cardiovascularly than biking (or at least, it's easy to bike for a long time without ever pushing your hr as high as moderate running). It's also harder on your joints and, I think, on your ligaments and tendons. If I've not run at all for a long time it takes a little time for me to get my knees and my achilles tendons back in shape. They complain with all sorts of little twinges that just go away completely once I've been running steadily for a few weeks.

But to answer your question that I quoted above: do you enjoy what you're doing? if you are getting some pleasure, some satisfaction out of doing it, if there's something that makes you want to keep working at it, then don't worry about whether you're "good" at it or not. You WILL make progress if you stick with it. It might take you longer to reach some arbitrary goal than someone else (though for sure there will be others out there who will take longer than you). But this doesn't mean there's no point to it -- the only time I would say "why bother?" is if you decide you just really don't enjoy it at all. And that's a good enough reason.

Good luck!!!
KSH2010-05-02 03:11:40 +0000 #4
Well, call me negative-nelly... but I think that some people are runners and others are not.

Now, does that mean that people who are not gifted runners, cannot run? Nope. It just means they have to work twice as hard at it, and will still probably be twice as slow.

From experience... and months of hard work and dedication... I have learned that my body rejects running. Yes, REJECTS RUNNING. It simply hates it.

No matter how long I run, how far I run, how fast or slow I run... I never get better. The more I run, the more my body rejects it.

Recently I have picked up a nice little GI issue. Not pretty, let me tell you... and it's all related to running.

When my body isn't spewing disgusting stuff after a long run... my body hurts. My feet, lower legs, etc. In fact, the pain in my lower legs popped up about 2 years ago and there doesn't seem to be a medical reason for it, or a fix.

OH... but wait... let's not forget the SIDE CRAMP I get from time to time. Lucky me, that typically pops up when I race (triathlons). That's always fun... running hunched over with my fingers jabbed into my side... breathing deep... again... my body REJECTS RUNNING.

With all of that said... I do put in an average of 80 miles a month running. It's slow, it's painful, it's never fun... but I do it. I kind of have to for my triathlons.

So, I may never be a great runner (trust me on this ladies- I won't be)... but I trudge along... getting it done... and I finish the miles. Even if ladies pushing strollers pass me... I finish.

Sorry I couldn't be more positive... but I truly believe that some people are gifted runners, others are not. I couldn't tell you what your fitness level is, or where you fall... but just keep at it... and if you do... you too will be running 12 minute miles!

Seriously though, it did take me a good 2 or 3 months before I could run a mile without walking.
JTri's2010-05-02 04:17:30 +0000 #5
I would agree that some people are gifted, or natural runners and some aren't. I happen to really have to work at running, but I find I get a huge amount of satisfaction from simply sticking with something that is so challenging. I went for an 8 mile run last Saturday, finished feeling strong, and I was smiling all day. Who knew I could do it? Not me!

My heartrate also tends to be higher than it should be, especially at the start of a run, but it comes down as I get into it and after a mile or two it's usually fine. I run/walk the first few miles and find that helps immensely.

I'm also fairly slow (12 min miles), and right now that doesn't bother me because I am focusing on be able to complete a half marathon and besides that, well I'm just so delighted to actually be jogging any amount of distance that I don't care how long it takes me

If I were to be working on my speed I would start doing some track workouts and some hills too. Have you tried either of those? For your body to go faster, it has to practice that faster speed, if only for a limited amount of time.
rocknrollgirl2010-05-02 04:12:56 +0000 #6
I am not a natural runner either. I have had to work really hard to get better, but I have gotten better. I am never going to be smoking fast, it is not in the cards for me, BUT, I have taken several mins per mile off my pace in the last two years. I plan to keep working on it this winter.

Now that being said, I really like it. I only trail run, no roads, my knees can't take it. I now look forward to it as much as I do mt biking.

I recently stumbled across information by Jeff Galloway about his walk/run training. Go on his website and check it out. I tried it the other day and it works.
teigyr2010-05-02 02:57:20 +0000 #7
I think there are some people who are built for it more than others.

I was a competitive runner from 5th grade through High School. I had the best coaches (pre-Olympic) and our team was fantastic. I broke school records but amongst my peers in running, I was not as good. I rarely ran for a school team, I was good for the school team. In my pre-Olympic team, I was adequate.

I remember running for years then we'd get a new person who just "took" to it.

Like anything, some people are more gifted than others. The rest of us can work on it and be ok but never great. We each have something we are better at than others so I figure it's ok.

I've started running again for a tri. Half the time it hurts (got orthotics) and there are times I seriously doubt my sanity and wonder where all my efforts are going. There are other days, however, when I feel good! I'll never be great but sometimes it is almost fun.

One last thing is maybe get a coach? Just someone who can look at your form and give you pointers. I did that with swimming and it made SUCH a huge difference. You just want to be comfortable and get through what you need to do and a coach can help you work on that.
Zen2010-05-02 03:35:37 +0000 #8
It's not much fun doing something if you aren't reasonably good at it. If you're determined though, I second the interval training.

In running, your body takes a real beating - especially the feet and knees.

When I'm on my bike and encounter a runner I can't help but notice how pained they look. Cyclists are generally smiling and happy. Runners, not so much



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