September 10th, 2021
Written By Coach Matt
I HATE RUNNING! I have always hated running. And that may or may not change ever. I understand, as I am writing this “running” blog for our new “running program”, how that sounds. Hang with me for a bit and I’ll get there.
Working in exercise for almost two decades, it often comes as a surprise to people when I admit that I don’t like running. But being a Health Professional doesn’t preclude you from the same aversions to different forms of exercise that anyone else experiences. It’s a great recreational activity for most and certainly a regular part of many fitness programs, but I have mostly always loathed it. I struggle to stay focused long enough to get anything out of it. I’m conscious of every single monotonous step. I simply don’t enjoy it. It’s not fun. But more than anything, until several years ago that is, it physically hurt. A lot.
Even a Cliff’s Notes version of my health history reveals a laundry list of chronic pain and injuries that dates back to youth. So in addition to the battle within my mind, running was also something that most often resulted in physical pain. It hurt my back, my hips, my soon to be surgically repaired knee and the achilles that I would eventually end up tearing. So it was just all around not enjoyable for me. Now conventional wisdom would suggest that more conditioning would improve some things and since “no pain no gain” was still a popular enough mantra, I believed I hurt because it was part of the pain that was a right of passage on the way to becoming stronger. What I didn’t know, but understand all too well now, is that even as a Personal Trainer, my own body was totally jacked. Exercise was very different back then and I simply didn’t yet know what I didn’t know. I had no idea how bad my own posture really was and consequently how poorly I moved. And so every time I ran I was adding tons and tons of stress to a system that wasn’t working well at all and couldn’t tolerate it.
The next chapter of the story is a subject for another blog but suffice it to say that over the next several years I wasn’t able to run at all. Whether I wanted to or not it wasn’t an option. And so suddenly the thing I hated so intensely became the very thing I would’ve done anything to be able to do again. I have worked extremely hard on myself over the years since and it’s been a long journey. But I have and constantly do still work on my physical issues as well as my mindset around them to get to a point where I can do almost anything I want now and feel better than I ever have.
So back to the running. I still hate it. But I do it because I am grateful for the ability to. Because nothing makes you appreciate something like not having it. So as a reminder to myself of the value of being able to move well without pain and of how much I have worked to create that possibility, I run. And the truth is, there are even times or places or events during which it is actually rather enjoyable. But hard work and gratitude are two things that, like running itself, are a journey. And those things matter.
Program Director Restorative Fitness
Matt brings over 18 years of experience in the fitness industry and a passion for movement and people! He has an insatiable appetite for learning and has always had a fascination with how things work. That curiosity first manifested during his studies at VCU and evolved over a life of navigating his own chronic pain and injuries and the search for information and hard to find answers. He credits that important journey, though, with truly learning the capabilities of the applied human body and the transformative power of strength training.