5 Steps to Fall in Love With Running


Time for a little story about running. If you don’t love running, you’ll resonate with this. If you do love running, I think you’ll still resonate with this.

I first started training for running when I was 12 years old, down at Patterson River Running Group with our Coach Mike Davis. This was actually where I met KP, but that’s a long, beautiful, life-changing love story for another day.

I’d started little athletics in 1999 when I was 7, a few months after my first football season. I immediately fell in love with competing. By the time I was 12 and starting to train somewhat regularly my summer was filled with running & little athletics and my winter was filled with football, running & cross country.

My sport was a big part of my childhood and a large part of my identity. As I got older I juggled the balance between football and running, with each competing for my commitment.

Slowly but surely, football became more important & eventually pushed my running and my running training out. Luckily, the years of training had built up my aerobic capacity to a point where one of my most redeeming qualities on the football field was my ability to run.

I was fortunate enough to maintain a certain capacity for a few years as I transitioned into VFL football, but as life happened, work/football/lifting/beers replaced my habit of running, and over the years that capacity I used to be so proud of slowly made way for other things.

When you begin to enjoy & be good at a thing (in this case, running) you inevitably start to identify with that thing. If you asked me during my teenage years, I would have said that I was a footballer who ran, but being a runner was certainly a huge part of my identity.

Fast forward to the last few years, I’ve had little spurts of motivation to get back into running, but I’ve never quite found the rhythm I had when I was a teenager. Maybe it was the absence of competitiveness or the (self-inflicted and ridiculous) expectations I have to live up to previous times not being met.

Maybe it was a bit of both. But for the most part, at some point in time, running ceased to be a means within itself and shifted to being a means to an end.

Cue Lockdown 2.0.

During Lockdown 1.0, I trained most days, maintaining my relatively consistent Strength & Conditioning sessions for the few months of ‘isolation’. It was fun & enjoyable, but when we went back into lockdown and Stage Four restrictions, I didn’t have the stomach to look at more Zoom calls, especially when I was training. I needed to shift to something different.

Cue the ruggedly handsome Mitch Rowe & his running programs. A few months on, I can say that I think I’ve fallen back in love with running again (these words still feel funny to write).

We love doing things that we’re good at. Things that provide us with the space to express our capacities & improve on those capacities. Running in many ways is still a means to an end for me (health, wellbeing, football) but the more I run, the more it becomes a means within itself and the more I enjoy and appreciate what my body can do.

“SO HOW CAN I FALL IN LOVE WITH RUNNING?” I hear you ask. Do not fret dear reader, I have a flawless 5 step process for you to follow to find your groove & tick those legs over out of pure, joyous love of running.

  1. Find an authentic reason: Now this one is tough, for the most part, because most of us don’t really think hard enough to really know what we want. This eliminates the need to rely on finite spurts of motivation, the ones that get you moving but don’t get you where you want to be. Take some time, and ask yourself the question ‘Why do I want to love running?’ What will it afford me if I am a capable runner?’ My answers lie somewhere in the middle of, ‘I want to improve my mental and physical capacities to be a good role model for Lucy & the Virtus Family. And to be able to play good football & know that I can do silly things like run a marathon on a day’s notice, or go for a big bike ride with The Phys without breaking my body.”

  2. Hire a coach: This is where I heap praise on Mike Davis for helping me fall in love with running initially and Mitch Rowe for helping me find it again. Apart from the accountability, support and guidance (which are all invaluable), a coach gives you someone to share your successes & failures with and someone who will at times care more about your running and success than you do (this is more important than you’ll realise).

  3. Follow a program: It sounds silly to say but outside of football preseasons, I haven’t followed a structured running program since I was training with Mike. So when I jumped on board with Mitch a few months ago, I started off with the 5-10km Three Speed Running Program. I had a clear plan to follow, and a simple understanding of what I needed to do to improve. Last week I kicked off my 10-15km Program and I’ve been reminded that running never gets ‘easier’ you just keep getting ‘better’. Better is certainly something that I can get around.

  4. Connect with other runners: Some of the best memories I have from my childhood are with Mike & the Patterson River Running Group. Some of the hardest runs I’ve done have been made bearable by my football teammates running beside me. Some of the best conversations I’ve had have been on a Sunday flow run along the esplanade with friends. Whether it’s in person or online via Strava or Facebook, when you connect with other people getting after it, you’re spurred on by the work others do, as they are by the hard work you put in.

  5. Show up & do the work: It’s hard, you have to go through a little bit of discomfort before you find the groove. To be honest, I thought of the idea for this blog during my last block of today’s run. It was windy, I was running back up the hill towards home, I was hurting, I was working hard but I smiled because I realised that I have genuinely fallen back in love with running.

I have no doubt that on Sunday when I sit on the couch to put my shoes on, I’ll hesitate and try to talk myself out of it, but I’ll remember why I started, think about the feeling I’ll have when I finish the session & log it in train heroic and then I’ll hit the road.

It’s not always easy, but when you find your groove, when you have a reason, when you have good people to connect with, when you see improvements, and when you put in the work, you’ll find yourself not just tolerating running, not just enjoying it, but you’ll fall in love with running, just like I did.

If you want to fall back in love with running, sign up for a running program here.

If you want to be supported by a community of others who love running, join the Virtus Strava Group #Kudos

P.S. You can sub out Running for almost any endeavour: Croquet, Powerlifting, BJJ, Writing, Chess, Hookey, whatever your heart desires, this shit is universal.




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