Running Scared: A Legitimate Concern or Just an Excuse

In college I ran cross-country and track. In my mid- to late twenties I ran because I enjoyed it. In my thirties I haven’t really done much running. Oh, I’ve done and will probably again do the gym thing, spinning classes[1], all of that, but lately — and in no small part because of lovely weather and a beautiful hilly, forested cemetery two blocks from our house that has beautiful trails on which we take our dog on long walks — I’ve had the urge to start running.

So what’s stopping me?

First I need to get decent running shoes. That’s an OK excuse for not getting out on the trails as soon as possible. I mean, the support in the years-old tennis shoes I have is pretty much gone, and they’re torn up from gardening, so I need to make a trip to a shoe outlet soon and pick up a discount pair. Simple enough.

Second is knowing that I’m not in the kind of cardiovascular shape I was when last I ran. I’m older, and heavier, than in those college days and years in my twenties. That means that I’m slower. Oh, and that I’m slower. Did I mention I’m probably not as fast as I used to be? This means I need to call upon the wisdom of my years to deal with the internal monologue, because it will do its damndest to try to shame me out of even trying to get back out there because I’m not what I once was. I know this about me. I know the self-defeating inner voices will conspire to keep me inside. I need to override them, remind them that I’m a much happier, more well-adjusted person now than I ever was during the cross-country days of yore. Winning doesn’t matter. Pushing it to the extreme doesn’t matter. There don’t have to be any races; there is no clock.

The third thing? Hmm. Well, it may just be the fact that two years ago I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes[2].

Now I know, I know… yes, I know, that there are all sorts and kinds of folks with Type 1 diabetes who run, who even do marathons. And it’s not as if I haven’t exercised since my diagnosis (for nearly a year I was pushing myself intensely in those spinning classes). The thing about running, though, about heading off on my own through city streets and cemetery trails, is that I’ll more than likely not be around anyone who’ll know what’s going on if, for some reason, I were to have an episode of low blood glucose[3].

During spinning classes the instructor knew I had diabetes and that I was on insulin[4]. As well, I had a bottle of Gatorade or other carbohydrate-intensive drink with me on the stationary bike as I pedaled. I also had my kit and could monitor my blood glucose as I continued to pedal.

But here’s where I get stymied with running streets and trails: all of that diabetic junk — carrying extra carbs, a kit, probably my cell phone just in case, and thinking about the preparation to have my blood glucose in line before running, and so on — it really does weigh on me, both literally and emotionally.

It doesn’t seem fair. I want to pout about it (I just did). I so wish it wasn’t necessary.

Unfortunately, all of the diabetes accoutrement is necessary. And I know that I’m making something out to be way more problematic than it actually is. I know about carbohydrate gel packets. I know I can stop to check my blood glucose if I need to. I know about starting out slowly, not trying to run five miles the first time out, that I should stay close to home, only go out for 15–20 minutes the first time, watch my blood glucose patterns. All of that stuff.

So why does it still loom large? Seem overwhelming to contemplate it? Because I’ve yet to start, and the shadow looms so much larger than the actual object. And there’s that internal monologue. It’s there. Probably always will be. It’s very adept at talking me out of things I ought not be talked out of.

However, doing something like this, writing down the supposed impediments to returning to running: that helps. It’s sort of like setting up each perceived roadblock and then pushing it down as I write through it.

I’ll get out on those trails soon.

  1. spinning classes:
  2. diabetes:
  3. low blood glucose:
  4. insulin:

Source URL:

Eric Lagergren: Eric Lagergren was born in 1974 but didn’t give much thought to diabetes until March 2007, when he was diagnosed with Type 1. He now gives quite a bit of thought to the condition, and to help him better understand his life as a person with diabetes, he writes about it. Eric is the senior editor for the Testing Division at the University of Michigan’s English Language Institute in Ann Arbor. (Eric Lagergren is not a medical professional.)

Disclaimer of Medical Advice: Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information, which comes from qualified medical writers, does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.