When I was a competitive runner in high-school, there was a lot I enjoyed about running. I liked the social aspect of my training group, I liked the competition, I liked being fit. But I didn’t always like training. There were days when I would actually make the journey by public transit through the city to arrive at the track after school, and just offer an excuse to my coach as to why I couldn’t train that day. I wasn’t the only one. Invariably there was someone who had a good excuse lined up, and they got to sit and watch while the rest of us ran in circles. Most of the excuses we offered give me a new respect for my coach, looking back, for having patiently put up with teenagers for so long. Here were some of our excuses:
“I can’t run today – I brought two left shoes”. Coach’s response: “Fine. Do your run tomorrow”.
“I can’t run today – I’m too tired from swim practice this morning and we did the Terry Fox Run at lunch”. Coach’s response: “Fine. Do your run tomorrow”.
“I can’t run today – I have sour burps”. This wasn’t me, but I remember the excuse so well. How did she get out of practice for Sour Burps?!? Coach’s response (after a barely audible sigh): “Fine. Do your run tomorrow”. I don’t know where he found the patience.
“I can’t run today – I forgot my sports bra”. We used this one a lot because it was our trump card. We knew he couldn’t say “but you’re all flat-chested runners – you don’t even need a bra!” which was the truth. He just rolled his eyes and repeated his “Fine. Do your run tomorrow” line.
Now that I am an adult with serious time-constraints who still loves to run, I am an excuse crusher. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to get out and run. Not enough time? Wake up earlier. Too cold? Wear more clothes or find a treadmill. Feeling sick, bloated, tired? Go for a short one. You get the idea.
However, this past summer I had an experience which put my excuse-crushing to the test. I was at work in an office and had about one hour for lunch. That was the only time in the day I had to run, so that was my plan. However, in looking through my bag at work I realized I had forgotten my running bra. The issue here was that I didn’t have the fall-back of wearing my regular bra because I happened to be wearing only a supportive tank-top under my shirt that day. Luckily my office was above a mall, and I was sure I could just nip down and find something – anything that would work. The only store I could find which could help me out was a lingerie store. No problem – I just needed anything, and my precious running time was being eaten away. I dashed in and grabbed a bra from the bargain bin (I wasn’t prepared to pay more than $10 for a 45 minute run) brought it back up, ripped off the tags and got changed.
And then I realized. It was WAY too small and SUPER uncomfortable. But – no excuses! I slipped my t-shirt on over top and headed out. It was the most miserable five miles of my life. My new purchase was digging in at the back, the front and the sides. For the first mile it was just very uncomfortable, but I thought I could suffer through it. Then it became painful. And by mile three it was unbearable. Metal wires were digging into my ribs and straps were rubbing my skin raw. I readjusted it every two steps trying to find some relief but there was nothing I could do. I needed to get it off me but there was no way I could wear just a thin t-shirt! So I suffered through it and regretted it the entire way. Some people say any run is better than no run, and I used to agree, but now I think otherwise. That run was not worth the pain. Next time I’m in an excuse-worthy situation, I’ll try to channel my wise, ever-calm coach, take a deep breath and say “Fine. Do your run tomorrow”.