Intro to Running: How a Non-runner Became Team Captain for the Annual 10 K Sun Run 5 Years in a Row

I’m going to break this up into how I got started and how to keep motivated. I’m not a particularly strong or fast runner, but I do it because it’s an extremely simple and cheap activity to start that has a huge return on health benefits (eg. improves heart condition, relieves stress, increases bone density) .

How I started running

I got into running late. I didn’t like it in high school. I actually remember my very first P.E. class in grade 8 and thinking that I would take the whole 5 minute allotted warm up time to go around the track once! Growing up I tried different kinds of sports and activities like swimming, gymnastics, tennis, and even ribbon dancing! But I thought running was simply boring. It was only once I was in my third year of university and needed to take courses for my Kinesiology minor that I began to enjoy it!

Running for credits in University

Simon Fraser University, Kinesiology 143 – Exercise Management; more commonly known among students as the “Running for Credits” class. Not only did we study cardiovascular health and how regular exercise impacted our bodies at the physiological level, we also put into action the very things we were learning. Our lab component consisted of the entire class participating in regular runs following the lecture which made it a very social activity. We were also lucky that this particular session took place in the summer at the downtown campus so we ran along the beautiful Vancouver seawall!


To take into account differing levels of fitness, we would run based on time. Everyone would run at their own pace for 20 minutes and then we would turn around and end up at the same grassy field to do our stretches. I usually ran with my friend Fiona and we were about the same speed, coming from similar backgrounds. That is, we both were active in our own ways, just not running! She was a dedicated dancer, dancing several hours a day, and I was playing intramural sports such as ultimate frisbee and soccer several days a week.

My pivotal running moment

One day, we were running along as per usual towards the entrance of Stanley Park when I honestly felt as though I couldn’t go any further. My legs were heavy, I was tired, I knew there was no real consequence for stopping and my grades weren’t going to be affected – haha! So as we rounded a corner of bushes I told my friend, “I’m getting tired, I’m going to stop here..but you keep going!”

Not 5 seconds passed when a random man jumped out of said bushes, pointed his fingers at me and exclaimed, verbatim, “NO! YOU keep going!”

I was shocked, surprised frightened..scared?? and then feeling obliged, I kept running along (partly to get away from him!!)

And I kept on running until the end of the class.

Well 6 years later – thank you random stranger!!

I’ve told this story to many, many people (including my instructor and TA on the way back to class) to illustrate how even when we truly believe we’re done and can’t go on- there exists a reserve we can tap into and fully utilize.

Motivational mantra

I learned somewhere that whenever you’re tired and think you have no energy left, you’re capable of going 50% further

I am proud to say that several of my friends have told me that they keep this mantra (and sometimes my voice repeating this!) to motivate them :D

Breaking past the wall

In any sport or activity, you come to a point where you plateau. Your biggest gains will be in the beginning and after awhile you get comfortable and stay there: the plateau or wall. We know from science and experience that many activities, and especially running, is largely mental. We have the capacity for great things – we evolved to walk up to 10-12 miles a day and if we were put in danger and had to escape a lion, we would certainly run as fast as possible! But we get comfortable and sometimes it’s easier to stop. That’s where other motivators come into play.

In my case – it was a random man from the bushes!

But since we can’t all have one of those lurking out there, here are my suggestions

How to keep motivated

  1. Get a running partner
  2. Join a running group
  3. Sign up for a race

In my case, start a Vancouver Sun Run Corporate Team so you have several people with the same goal of completing an official run. There’s the largely social aspect of training together and encouraging one another. You’re held accountable because there’s an goal date in mind. Plus, you’ve just told everyone you’re doing this so you wouldn’t want to back out ;)

My target date is April 21th 2013, The Vancouver 10 K Sun Run.

My goal is 《54 minutes.

I’ll be using this blog to share some of my lessons learned and other motivators. Please share yours!!

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