Fitness · Health · Running · Weight loss

How I went from “I can’t run” to completing a road race


When I was a kid, I dreamed of being Princess Leia. My friends and I spent hours on a jungle gym that magically turned into  X Wing Fighters as we saved the universe. I also imagined my bike was a wild horse that I could ride like the wind around the challenging loop circling my house. I loved being outdoors and didn’t even think about the fact that all this activity was keeping me healthy.

Photo credit: Flicka

By the time I got to high school, I was more interested in MTV and eating chocolate chip ice cream than I was in moving my body. It wasn’t long before I came to believe that I was fat and had to begin dieting and exercising to lose weight. Some how I got the notion to join the track team, thinking that running would shed the pounds I thought I needed to lose.  Unfortunately, my inactivity and my faulty self perceptions left me in a deficit when it came to impressing the coach and my fellow team mates. I came in dead last and wheezing at our first practice, thus proving to myself that “I can’t run”. So I quit and went back to the couch.

Photo credit:

I didn’t overcome this false notion until more than a decade later, after reading Make The Connection by Bob Greene and Oprah Winfrey. It’s probably a bit out of date, given the multitude of new information about nutrition and exercise since 1999, but it lit a spark in me that began my transformation into a “runner”.

It wasn’t an instantaneous change like hopping into Calvin and Hobbes’ Transmogrifier.

Photo Credit:Bill Watterson

It was a gradual process that started with walking, then a bit of a faster walk and a few seconds of jogging. I kept at my slow, little walk-runs and, as I built stamina I was able to eliminate the walking part of my training. Before I knew it, I could actually run without stopping!

If you want to learn how to begin a running program, here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Learn to let go of comparison. Allow it to be a process. If you are in the habit of comparing, it may take continuous conscious effort to stop negative thoughts from overwhelming you. This has been essential for me because my husband, on a whim, decided to run the Boston Marathon just as I was getting started. His natural ability to hit the road running could have been a defeating blow if I allowed myself to compare.
  • Become inspired.  A little motivation can help you along the way. I continue to learn and increase my desire to stick with it by reading blogs and books as well as listening to stories and podcasts. See my favorites below.
  • Get a running app. This tool can be very helpful for seeing your progress and setting goals. As a personal trainer, I find it allows me to uncover a client’s running difficulties and find solutions   I like RunkeeperMapMyRun and Fitbit.
  • Understand your functional movement habits and running mechanics. Muscle imbalances can lead to injury that, often times, can be avoided. A Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Running Coach or Corrective Exercise Specialist may be able to help you with this. Be sure to ask their experience and training to ensure you choose the right person. Find one at IDEAFIT or Road Runners Club of America. Be sure to check with your doctor too.
  • Join a running club. It took me years to join.. It wasn’t until a friend who was a member of our local running club, convinced me it wasn’t just for the fast or talented runner. Since joining, I have made some of the best friends of my life, improved my running and helped my community in new ways. Search Running in the USA to find one near you.
  • Do good with your run. Use an app like Charity Miles or sign up for a fundraising run supporting a cause you love. Check out  Active Charitable Events.

Creating a new, healthier self can begin with a few simple steps and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the many benefits of cardio vascular exercise!

My book recommendations:

My video and audio recommendations: 

More running help can be found at: 

Your Best Run Is Yet to Come

Optimizing The Use of Your Foam Roller

Kerry Madden is a Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist with certifications from NASM, TRX, Fasical Fitness, STOTT Pilates and CFSC. She also loves to run despite her sad, failed attempt to join the track team. She has completed many a road race including triathlons and half marathons. She has never won a race but is joyful none-the-less.

Kerry can be reached at,  Facebook or IDEA Fit

2 thoughts on “How I went from “I can’t run” to completing a road race

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