I didn’t grow up in the United States, so I only got my introduction to Dr. Seuss once I started reading his books to my kid. You could say I missed out. You could say I was lucky.
I missed out on hearing the stories the “kid” way. I was lucky to read into the words the grownup way. Also, the runner way. It didn’t take very long, or very many readings of One Fish, Two Fish or Oh, The Places You’ll Go! before Dr. Seuss quotes started to jump out at me as… well, as if they were written to inspire runners. See for yourself!
1. But why running?
Before you became one of those crazies who run because they love it, you were probably asking yourself: Why run? It’ll burn my lungs and hurt my feet. Why not just hit the gym or take a spin class? It’s air conditioned. And I can sit while I sweat?
Here’s what Dr. Seuss would tell those wondering if they should try running, from One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:
If you never did
These things are fun.
And fun is good.
It may not be all that much fun in the beginning, but stick with it and running will become a part of your day you look forward to; and that’s good!
2. But I’m not a “real” runner…
Starting out, many people worry that they don’t “look” like a runner. You might be out of shape. You might be carrying some extra pounds. That doesn’t matter! As Dr. Seuss writes in You’re Only Old Once!: A Book for Obsolete Children (yes, this is a book for “grown-up” children):
You’re in pretty good shape for the shape you are in.
Just get out there and run. No one will judge. At worst, no one will notice, or care, how you look. At best? You will get a few nods, smiles, or high fives, from your fellow runners!
3. But I don’t feel like running today…
Don’t make up excuses. Give yourself this little pep talk, courtesy of Dr. Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go!:
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!
See ya after your run!
4. But I’ve got so much to do at work!
Oh, so you did start thinking up excuses? Work, house work, homework – the work never ends. Chances are, though, it might get done more quickly or easily once you’ve had your dose of fresh air.
It’s opener there in the wide open air.
5. But it’s raining!
So? That didn’t stop The Cat in the Hat, did it?
I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.
6. But it’s too early, and it’s dark, and I’d rather keep sleeping!
Sleep is important. You must get enough of it, especially if you’ve been running a lot, training for a race, or are generally tired or stressed. But don’t let a dark or cold morning keep you in your bed longer than you should be! As Dr. Seuss writes in I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!:
You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.
7. But long runs are so boring!
Don’t fear the prospect of being alone with your music or thoughts for hours. Embrace it and enjoy it. Think of it as your time to… well, think! Dr. Seuss wrote a whole book about it:
8. But running on the track is so hard!
Interval training is hard and, sometimes, mind-numbingly repetitive. Personally, I try to amuse myself with funny things — memories, jokes — during the hardest intervals. It isn’t easy to keep focused and maintain a crazy pace, but a distraction from the pain can sometimes help!
From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.
9. But this run stinks…
You are probably thinking this during a run or race that feels particularly grueling. Maybe it’s not your day. Maybe you’re even considering quitting. If you feel it isn’t safe for you to continue, by all means do. But if you know you will not hurt yourself in any way if you continue, just grit your teeth and keep telling yourself:
Everything stinks ’till it’s finished.
10. But I’m not going to do well at this race…
Today you are You! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is Youer than You!
11. But what will I do once the race is over?
The post-race blues are not uncommon. You trained for an event for weeks, followed a strict schedule, had a clear goal. And now it’s over.
My own solution? I sign up for another race, often in the days before the one for which I am training. But you might need a break from racing, and that’s OK too. Just remember:
Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.
[This quote is attributed to Dr. Seuss without citation.]
13. But I hate ice baths and don’t need rest days!
Step with care and great tact, and remember that life’s a great balancing act.
14. But I must run hard every time, and that’s… well, too hard!
You actually must not. If you are training for a race, you will have two or three quality runs a week – a tempo run, a long run, intervals at a track, or hill repeats. But the rest of your runs? They should be easy. Think of them as play. Dr. From The King’s Stilts:
And when they played they really played. And when they worked they really worked.
15. But will I ever love running?
Oh yes, you will. Just wait until you experience the rush of endorphins we often call “runner’s high,” which Dr. Seuss very accurately described in Oh, The Places You’ll Go!:
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
16. But I’ll wear out my knees!
First of all, there are plenty of studies out there by now showing that lifelong runners have healthier joints than non-runners their age. Use ’em or lose ’em, as they say.
That said, you should be a smart runner. Study technique. Build mileage carefully. Don’t sign up for a marathon four months after you started running. Give your body the time to strengthen up and it will repay you with many happy miles, fun races and new friends!
It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.
17. But I don’t think I’ll PR at this race.
It’s not about improving your race times, every time; it’s not about winning. It’s about being healthy and happy. So whenever you lace up to go on a run or race, and you are healthy and injury-free…
Just tell yourself, Duckie,
you’re really quite lucky!
Here’s to a happy, lifelong journey in running!