How to Motivate Yourself To Start Running

This is one of those posts I wrote in a fury of slight frustration and in hitting publish, I feel as though it will either be motivational or you’ll come away thinking I’m a heartless bitch with zero empathy. ENJOY!

I’m obsessed with the Iron Nun.

No, she’s not a golfer or someone who loves ironing, or…whatever else has some relation to irons. (You know you’ve typed a word too many times when you start questioning if you’re spelling “iron” right.)

I’ve watched this Nike commercial no less than 12 times and there are a couple points I took away from good ol’ Phil Knight and Co that I want to write about. (WHY ARE THEIR COMMERCIALS ALWAYS SO GOOD.)

The (hidden) message is the key to my point in this post, which I may or may not take a long time getting to, so let’s begin with that.

The narrator’s default response is to tell her to slow down, that she’s essentially too old for this. I know this is a produced commercial and there are specific reasons for this script, but I notice this a lot in real life, especially when it comes to athletics and fitness. (Listen when you speak – are you trying to drag people down? Why? Why try to convince someone not to do something, based on personal judgements and opinions? ARE YOU ONE OF THE PEOPLE JUDGING TIM TEBOW AND HIS BASEBALL CAREER?!)

Anywhoodles…I currently work in a yoga studio. I’d say that most people come in here to improve themselves. They’re inquisitive. Some students ask questions in ways that make it seem like their lives are spiraling downward, as though they’re spinning down a drain and they’re just trying to swim as hard as possible to stay above that point where you stop fighting and give up. Still, whether life is going as well as can be or horribly, the one thing I’ve noticed is their clear knowledge that they’re in control of their mindset.

Others come in with negativity and excuses, which begs the question: why do some people tend to be more negative and others endlessly positive?

I was reminded of some of these students when I read an excerpt from the Iron Nun book that mentions she’s sought out for her “inspiring presence” and “positivity”.

I believe we each must be that positive person for ourselves.

No more “I’m nots”, “I ams”, “I wishes”, describing ourselves in ways that convince us not to take action. Ways that don’t benefit or improve or lift us up.

No more “I can’t do this because this”. Spend your brain power learning how you can instead.

One of my most favorite interviews I’ve ever done was with Kacy Catanzaro. She told me how, before she crushed it on American Ninja Warrior, people often insisted she couldn’t finish the course because of her small 5’0 frame. She said she took her size into consideration and figured out a different way to approach the obstacles. Ways that may not have been like what everyone else did, but worked for her. And it WORKED for her. I’ve never forgotten that lesson:

Find what works for you. Find a different way to approach the obstacles and you’ll become more confident in yourself – and from there, you’ll begin to see things more positively.

Here comes my tough love (LOVE YOU I SWEAR). What I want to say to people who come up with excuses to not run, to not try a new activity, to not do whatever it is they want to do but are stopping themselves from doing. To people who continue to say to me, “I wish I could be a runner!” or “I’m horrible at running!” or “I don’t want to try that, I know I’ll suck at it!” To the people who ignore me when I try to tell them the kind, nicer version of this.

Stop fucking whining. What makes you so important that you don’t have to put the work in like everyone else? Why are you so special? Are you stuck in the kindergarten lesson that you’re a special snowflake and believe you only have to do things you’re good at? I’ve been running for 15+ years and I’m still working at it. It gets easier, but it’s never easy. What makes you think you should be able to be good on your first try? I worked HARD just to hang on for a long time. I started as a back-of-the-pack high school runner who struggled to finish her first marathon in 6 hours. I kept running and took almost an hour and a half off my marathon time and 40 minutes off my half marathon. Then I finished an Ironman. I only point this out to show it was by no means overnight and certainly not a “success” in the grand scheme of endurance events, but I made a commitment and persevered and bettered myself, and that’s all I can ask.

My life-changing moment that was years in the making.

Tell me you just don’t care enough to do it. Tell me you gave it an honest shot and hated it. Just don’t tell me you want to do something but “can’t”. Work on that mindset and put a little elbow grease into learning and improving, as my mom would say.

You say you’re too competitive? To me, dear friend, using competitiveness as a barrier to entry means you’re not that competitive at all. To me, if you’re competitive, you know the key to even being in competition is giving up on being good at the beginning, learning a little patience, and paying attention to people who have been there. Everyone was a beginner once and if 99-year-olds can graduate college, the Iron Nun can finish multiple Ironmans, and this girl can finish a triathlon after being told she’d never walk, maybe you should give it a shot.

I truly believe that if you are the person who motivates yourself instead of relying solely on others, you’ll be able to do whatever you want to do. We CAN be that person for ourselves and those around us and it’s never too late to take steps toward what you want, no matter how tiny.

I’m not a perfect little angel, I know that. I still struggle. But once I took my own first steps and learned I could improve myself by doing things that scared me, I was empowered to be that generally positive person on my own – no Iron Nuns necessary. You can always fill your cup with inspiration from others (I recommend it!), but remember, you have the ability to choose to be positive and change your own life. You just have to take the first steps and the million steps that come after. From there, you’ll find your motivation and a sense of empowerment.

disney half marathon

My first half. The happiest I’ve been while simultaneously being unable to move a muscle.

I think I’ve written – and others have written – a version of this post a billion times, but I’ll write it in different words and different ways a billion more times if there’s a chance it will convince even one person to step out of their comfort zone and just be bad at something for awhile if they truly want it. If it convinces them to see situations with a more positive outlook instead of negativity.

Now tell me what you’re going to try this week, or how you’ve become a more positive person! What was your life-changing experience?

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!


  1. August 31, 2016 / 2:20 pm

    Boom. Kara spitting truth! I love it and totally agree. You can do whatever the heck you want to do! Just try.

    • December 12, 2016 / 5:35 am

      Ahh thank you Kim! Glad it resonated with you!

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