How to Start Running.



The fella ran the Around the Bay Road Race in Hamilton this past weekend. He ran and he ran and he ran, 30 kilometres (18.5 miles) through the streets, up and down hills, past very tempting hotdog stands.

He did the race last year too, but as I explained in a post, it was much harder on me. MUCH harder.

Now the thing about the fella is he isn’t built for running. He’s built for pushing things. So I wondered how successful he’d be at running. Runners normally look like spaghetti in sneakers. He does not.

But taking a look around the race course this weekend I noticed that these people running 30 km were every shape and size imaginable. Sure the ones out at the front of the pack had to be careful not to slip into the sewer grates, but everyone else was a mix. Tall people, short people, dumpy people, overweight people, pear shaped people, triangle shaped people, old people, young people. Everything. All of them fit enough to run for hours on end.

So I took the opportunity to talk with some of these people who had obviously trained very hard to get to this point. I would consider them all to be experts because to finish a 30 kilometre race isn’t for novices.

I’m interested in running and have done a bit of it, but wanted to know a little more. Sort of the secret behind it all.  How do you ever get to the point that you can run for 20 or 30 or 40 miles?!

So I asked them …


After many hours of talking to countless runners I got the answer to my question. So if you’re interested in becoming a runner, settle in and get ready to reap the benefits of my in depth research and their thoughtful answers about the exact right way to become a runner.




Or eat a hot dog.  Your choice.


  1. Rebecca says:

    Running sucks. I’m training to do Tough Mudder (is the fella doing it again?) and I’m up to 12k and I hate every minute of it. I think this “runner’s high” is a big fat lie. I keep hoping I’ll start enjoying it, but it’s been a few months and all I can think when I’m running is, “When can I stop?” After May 11 I will be back to my usual standard of only running if a lion is chasing me.

  2. Marti says:

    The truly sucky thing is that once your running days end, you will dream of it. It will haunt your nights. You will wake up, feeling your legs stretching out in front of you long and lean. But then you’ll remember that your doctor said NO MORE!

    Sucks. So go ruin your knees now and enjoy. I’m not bitter.

    • Jrn says:

      Loved this image:”spaghetti in sneakers.” Best laughter I bet I’ll have all day a d sure sums up,the look of some of those runners.

      I ran and I ran and I ran – for years. And then I got hit by a drunk driver and I no longer run. I am grateful to be able to walk. Yes, I miss running but the gratitude rises to the top.

      Anyway.,,if the fella trains at night or even dusk I hope he uses any of,these: reflector strips, clip-on flashing lights, etc. I don’t mean to sound alarmist but I am not the only friend who got hit by a drunk driver. Except for the drugs which made me hallucinate some very cool stuff, it sucked.

  3. White says:

    • I usually bog down at #1: Are these running shoes, or are these trainers, or gym shoes, or joggers, or runners, or sneakers?

    • On occasion, I make it to #2 if I have to “trot” over to the grocery store, “run” an errand, etc., but most times I have to “jog” my memory: why am I here?

    • #3? This is the big one. Have not reached that “step” yet.

    Frankly, right now, I think I need a rest… but first I need to catch my breath…

  4. Chris says:

    People who enjoy running are sick in the head!! I won’t run even if there is a killer sale at Macy’s
    Chris =]

  5. Jen says:

    I’m currently trying to lose over 100lbs and a lot of the blogs I read of people who have lost a significant amount of weight have done it because they began to run. (And obviously diet change.)

    Problem is, I’m not a runner. I got half way through Couch to 5K and never caught that runner’s high. Never felt a strong desire to pick it up again. I can lift weights, do karate, kickboxing etc and feel awesome.

    And running looks so peaceful I wish I could get into it. For now I resign myself to running to the fridge. Running for the border. Running errands. Running through some sexy hot man’s mind…. *wiggles eyebrows*

    • AnnW says:

      Jen. Don’t give up. I did my first 5k a few weeks ago. In snowshoes, at 8100 ft. In the snow/rain. It took me several years and 54 minutes to do it. I didn’t run, but I tried to walk fast. I am 66. I’ve never had a high doing exercise either, but I do it so I won’t get Alzheimers. Keep moving. That 100 pounds will kill you. Ann

  6. Marti’s comment is funny, but ignore it! I’ve been running large for 25 years with no injuries. (and no weight loss either, but sigh, that’s another story.) (If Karen will allow a loyal reader a plug, my book is “Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner.”) There are a lot more of us people built for pushing things (great line) on the roads these days than gazelles. Jennifer

  7. Laura Bee says:

    I had a great workout yesterday..then I saw a skipping rope lying there. Memories of recess, long summers with friends & Jump Rope for Heart came rushing back…two minutes made me remember I’m not 9 amymore. I think I was the same age the last time I ran for fun. But you enjoy yourself.

  8. Diane says:

    Oh gosh. I’m so envious of all of them. I can’t run. I’ve tried…many times. I can walk for hours. I can even jog for a pretty lengthy 5 whole minutes. Lol But running? Geez, there’s no hope. I have absolutely no stamina for running…or jogging more than 5 minutes, apparently.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane – You might think about intervals. Run for 5 minutes, walk for 1. Run for 5 minutes, walk for 1. Then the next week you run for 6 minutes, walk for one. And on and on. Or you could just keep walking. Walking’s great exercise too, running just gets it done faster. 😉 ~ karen!

      • Diane says:

        Solid advice. I actually started interval training last fall, that’s when I realized I wasn’t cut out to be a runner. I do run down all the hills when I’m hiking. I try to get the most out of every hike/walk. I’ve managed to lose 70lbs over the last couple years. Pretty darn proud of that! However, I don’t want to ever become ‘spaghetti in sneakers’. Lol 😀

  9. KarenJ says:

    My Man did The Around The Bay too. He loves running – says it clears his mind.
    Me on the other hand don’t like it so much but still do it because then I can eat whatever I want.
    Running is hard and yes it can suck but eating whatever you want is a pretty good perk:)

    P.S. My favourite part about going to the big races is taking in all the healthy energy permeating from the runners – makes you want to run!

  10. Cathy says:

    I started running last October to train for a triathlon in May. I got a coach to help me because I’m 51 and don’t want to be stupid about it. He had me walk 5 minutes then run for 30 seconds then walk 5 minutes, etc for 30 minutes. He slowly added minutes of running and fewer minutes walking, like over 3 months before I did a full 30 minute run. I feel good. I feel proud. I feel scared to do the race but that’s kind of exciting. New things all the time. Run, baby, run!

  11. John C says:

    Whenever my Karen comes to watch me ‘race’ (a relative term), she takes no greater joy than describing all the shapes, ages, and sizes of runners who have beaten me across the line. Her best day ever? The time I crossed the line with chaffed nipples and 2 streaks of blood running down the front of my white running shirt; I’m a smarter (if not faster) runner now, and that’s another story…

  12. Linda J Howes says:

    I feel Marti’s pain. I have been in a hurry all my life, always running here to there. It started with the jogging craze when I was just a kid. I suffer from shin splints whenever I run or even walk on hard packed ground. My knees are a mess but still I persist. Just lately I had another problem fixed and am back to short little jogging treks, from telephone pole to telephone pole and then walk the next, jog, walk, jog, walk… I am jogging two stretches of telephone poles now and walk one, jog, walk, jog, walk,… Where I live I have to do this in hiking boots until the ground dries up. What really gets me is when I have to carry my dog because she can’t keep up.

  13. Natika33 says:

    I run too. I think it’s the best way to lose/maintain weight, keep fit and let go of mental stress. (I think of running as a socially acceptable way to have a public temper tantrum).

    On the other hand, I wouldn’t say that I enjoy it exactly. I only run every other day (to reduce the chance of injury) and I find that sometimes when I’m day dreaming at work about what I’m going to do after, I always get a little happy when I realise it’s my non-running day.

  14. Sarah says:

    My question has never been, ‘How do you become a runner?’…it been ‘How do you get to the point you LIKE running, and WANT to put those darn shoes on?’! Every spring, I do exactly what your scientific research came up with, I don those brightly coloured kicks, I venture out in morning sun, and I run. And then by summer, I stop. I like the feeling of the wind in my face, but I can get that by hanging my head out of a car window…

  15. Jenna says:

    Lol! My hubs definitely fits into the spaghetti in sneakers category. I’ve always told him he looks noodly!

  16. Langela says:

    I know how to start running. The problem I have is continuing to run after the first few steps.

  17. Mary Werner says:

    I choose Hot Dog thank you! Favorite would be all meat, on a buttered bun with cold slaw. YUM. It might enough but 2 would be even better. I guess I would run into the kitchen to get them.

  18. Ginger says:

    I used to be a big runner, ran a few 1/2 marathons a lot of 5 and 10 km, I haven’t run in awhile, years…and I can’t wait to start again…and yes there is a runners high, I remember always feeling so awesome when finishing a long run…I miss it, and I know my body misses it as well, it will help me lose the weight I gained when I stopped.

  19. Mary Kay says:

    Congrats to the Fella for finishing his race. But this gal not a runner have no desire to be a runner – I am a quilter. I wonder how many miles of stiches I have stitched would those count??

  20. Hahaha! I thought you were going to have some magic method! I walk a lot and in my walk can run for up to 2 minutes, then walk again, but have never been able to join the dots. So now I give up! Don’t want to end up dreaming of my running days, do I?

  21. ev says:

    Have to run to the store soon. Grandkids coming tomorrow. Got to fire up the Wrangler, whoops, did I say “run”? My bad!

  22. Jan says:

    Or you can download the Couch to a 5k app on your cell phone and be ready for that 5k in 8-10 weeks. I am 50 and will run my first race in two weeks. Haven’t felt this good in years!

  23. leslie says:

    If you see me running, you’d better take a look at what’s chasing me !
    In 1997, I was pregnant with baby #4. My husband had a plan to run the Houston Marathon on my due date (it happened to be scheduled that day- he didn’t arrange it like that). I showed him- I had that baby a week earlier so I wouldn’t have to kill him.

  24. Ann says:

    I used to be a runner, now I just walk. But I can go for very long distances. Yes, sometimes it hurts like hell. But to know that you can push your body and it will do what you ask is where my high comes in. To know that I am doing what 99.9% of other people can’t or won’t do is totally cool.

    2 years ago I did the Susan Komen 3 day/60 mile walk for breast cancer. I trained some but not as much as they recommended. But I really didn’t have much trouble, just kept putting 1 foot in front of the other each of the 3 days. And yes, it was heartwarming to see all the the people around me, walking for such a good cause. And to see survivors also walking. But my secret was that my joy came from the fact that I had pushed myself into doing something so physically demanding and I got it done!!

    I have always had this one thought in my head. In order to become a runner, a walker, a biker, a swimmer, you first have to do just one thing. Get up off that couch. So where am I this morning? Sitting here on the couch. So off I go. Everybody enjoy your day

  25. Amanda says:

    I’ve always said that I run only when chased, and sometimes not even then….and then I got it stuck in my craw to do a 5K about 3 years ago. I picked a race on a gorgeous course on a not-too-hot, not-too-cold day. And then I did a Couch-to-5K…treadmill only, all winter.
    I’m a lazy runner.
    I didn’t enjoy it. Even when I was running 3 times a week, I never got the bug.
    I was SO proud of myself when I finished the race, though. Kind of a walk-run. Heh.
    And then I had a kid, yada yada. Trying to get off some baby weight. So, I’ve signed up for another 5K – a color run.
    I don’t know why I do this to myself.
    I do love the idea of being a runner, though.

  26. Kathie says:

    I just watched my son run his first marathon in LA a few weeks ago and thought the same thing! So many shapes and sizes and ages finishing 26.2 miles. And I had been feeling grumpy about the 2 mile round trip from our parking space to the finish line.

  27. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    The last time I ran I fell down and got a boo-boo on my knee..My Mommy said I should stop running..being the good girl that I am I never did it again!..I’ll have that hot dog now..

  28. Barbie says:

    I used to work out with triathletes and run every morning, then swim, then bike on the stationary bikes…..I always HATED the running part….I did it but HATED it. I love walking…but your right….running just gets it done faster. Sometimes run/walk….I just use my gazelle now and swim ….zero impact and seems to be a good workout for a cripple! LOL

  29. Janet says:

    The fella looks like he’s in pain.

    I love reading the comments almost as much as reading your posts, Karen. You have a bunch of witty readers. 😀

    I don’t run. Sadly, it even hurts to walk. Three broken metatarsals will do that to you. They told me it would take 6 months to feel better, and a year to fully heal. I’m a bit whiny that every step still hurts.

    No running for me, but I CAN garden. Now if only the winter weather would cease.

    • Karen says:

      Janet – Oddly he wasn’t in pain at all. LAST year he was, but this year he said it was just an easy nice, run. Go figure. ~ karen!

  30. Angie S says:

    I’ve tried running. Tried walking too. Turns our biking is where it’s at for me! To each their own. Just keep trying different things to get you moving – you will find something!

  31. Julie says:

    So true! Although I will add that you have to have a good pair of running shoes. Go to any fitness shop and say you want to run, and they will hook you up. Replace them often if you run often. You don’t want to screw yourself up so you can’t run.

    Also, for those who can’t find the runners high….find a place that inspires you to run. Running 5k at the gym doesn’t give me a high, although I’m ok with it. Running outside along the trails in my city gave me such a high when I was training for a half marathon….20k felt the same as 5k at the gym. I used to be overweight, and unable to run for more than a minute at a time. You might have to stick with it for a bit until you get there. Music or podcasts also help too.

  32. Margaret says:

    My girlfriend did Around the Bay this year, too. It was her 6th year doing it and I think she even got into the local (online) paper. She is crazy cakes.
    I’ve started doing Pooch to 5K, in hopes of getting both myself and my English setter back in shape. I had to drop the dog – she was miserable and somewhat outraged in only the way a setter can – and now I’m all by myself, which is sucky. It would be a tiny bit more fun if I had somebody to complain about it with…

  33. Sara says:

    Perfect advice! I finally committed to run a 5k this year (hardly compares to a 30k), but unlike past years where I wanted to wait until I got into shape before agreeing to a 5k, this year I’ve just committed to running. Knowing that I WILL be running on a certain date whether I’m ready or not is the greatest motivator for training ever!

    Good luck as you start your training!

  34. Reg says:

    Cudo’s to the fella. I’ve heard that it is a tough course.

    By the way, are there any runners who smile while running? Nuff said.

  35. Bols says:

    Yeah, I used to run, too. Only on a treadmill, and it took me a long time to work myself up from fast walk to a bit of a trot, about 5 miles. Then my running career went swiftly down the drain because I ran myself plantar fasciits. First on one foot and it took about a year for the pain to go away. I enjoyed a short pain-free hiatus and then, this time without running, I got plantar fasciitis in the other foot (why do we have two feet anyway???). The second is a lot more stubborn than the first one; it has been over a year and it’s not showing any signs of improvement.

    But Karen, the only reason I logged on today is tell you that the article about your garden is the best part of the May issue of Style at Home.
    Love it love it love it!!!!
    I want to know what is the large cedar-y tree – is it a cedar or a nootka? Do tell.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Bols! I gave them a list of all the plantings with the article. I guess they didn’t publish it. It’s a Nootka Weeping False Cypress. ~ karen!

      • Bols says:

        Yeah, I thought so but the article talked about cedars so I thought I better ask. I have one Weeping Notka in the front garden, it has been doing fine.
        But, I am a shade person and of course that’s exactly what my back yard is lacking.
        Yours is heavenly.

  36. Linda says:

    I love to run – always have since I was really little (as in young!) and my observation is that you either love it or you hate it. If you hate it – there is probably some other activity you could do that you would enjoy more, like swimming or biking or dancing. I love running, but I really don’t like swimming at all (I do like floating on a pool float, however!)

  37. Attending a great race (ATB is my favourite) is a great motivator to start running. If you decide you want to get up to 30-40K, finding a good training group is very helpful. Remember too that being a runner doesn’t necessarily mean being a distance runner. 5-10K counts too. I’ve been off running for a year, as I’ve been funneling my energy into renovations instead, but I really miss it and am looking forward to getting back into a routine this spring.

  38. Tracie says:

    Hey Karen, thanks for the inspiration! Although I have yet to actually do any running, your sloth comment cut me enough that I started walking right away… even… step-jogging!

  39. shawnacate says:

    I also LOVE to run and always have. However, there are two things that I found make it more enjoyable. One, run with a friend. Conversation makes anything more fun. Two, don’t run 30 kilometres. 5-10k is enough to keep you fit and ensure that you’ll be able to run (and not hate it) for many years. Unless you don’t want to be able to run for many years and are instead trying to prove your Wonderwoman ability. In that case, train to run the 30 km race–prove that you can do it-then quit! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Oh forget that, lol. I’d rather drink a glass of toenail clippings than run 30k! 5k is all I need. I wouldn’t mind 10k but I get so bored! Which is funny because I can garden or pull weeds for hours and not get bored. Running though? I get bored. 🙂 ~ karen!

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