I found this quote recently from Joan Benoit Samuelson and loved it…….

“When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers.”

May 2014

Have you ever felt like this?

I remember in college, when my social anxiety was at it’s peak, asking one of my roommates to walk me to the back gate of our school so I could go run. The back gate was a short walk, probably less than .2 of a mile, but it was out the back of “the suites.” The suites were where most of the juniors and seniors lived and each suite had a giant window that looked out on the short walk to the back gate. I could not let anyone see me attempting to go run.

It’s insane if I think about it now, I’ve run 27 marathons and so many races I can’t even count, yet I was unable to walk alone to get out of the school for a run. I also specifically remember timing those runs to when I thought I had the least chance of people seeing me. What if someone was in their car and drove past me attempting to run, or worse walking because I couldn’t run the whole loop? Silly now but it wasn’t then.

If Joan Benoit Samuelson felt this way then it certainly seems okay for you {or me} to have felt this way too. Here’s the thing….let it go. I had to, she had to, you have to. If you want to be a runner, then you have to just BE. You have to let go of the little voice in your head that is criticzing you for INSERT REASON HERE and you have to decide you want it more than you are afraid of it.

Oh and in case you aren’t a running geek and have NO IDEA who Joan Benoit Samuelson is…..you can read her Wikipedia bio here —–> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Benoit


  1. Carl J Samuelson says:

    Totally felt the same way when I went for my first run outdoors! Felt that familiar pang of panic last summer when I went running in skinz for the first time (can’t undo 30 years of insecurity in one run).

    I still won’t go skinz unless it’s “zero dark thirty”, my “extreme makeover: weight loss edition” weight loss left a layer of “stuff”… no one needs to see that in the light of day!

  2. Totally agree – I was happy running early mornings starting 4:30-5AM and not having anyone see me … and after we moved here and I was trying to restart my running after my thyroid died I would avoid people who were walking their dogs in the early morning. Now … now after a couple of years of running races, I really don’t care who sees me and what they might think about what I wear, how I look, or how I am running.

  3. I am lucky that I’ve never felt embarrassed to run. A positive holdover from growing up in a small town where everyone knew everything about everyone. If you didn’t “Let It Go” you went crazy. But now, when I see a runner that is clearly uncomfortable, I want to shout out my car window, “Hey! Great job! Keep going! You look great!” And if I am running, I always smile and say “Hi!” to let them know that yes, they are a runner! (I do get embarrassed when I have to take a walk break sometimes, but breathing is more important than my pride!)

  4. I don’t think I have ever felt embarrassed to run, BUT I have felt embarrassed at my speed. I am married to an extremely fast runner who has a lot of friends who are very fast. Even though I am out there most of the times i run much slower than they are. I have to remind myself it’s OK – run at your own pace and you should be proud you are out there getting it done!

  5. Yes yes yes! I weighed 180 lbs when I started to run and would only jog on the treadmill in the gym at first. When I started running outside, it was at night under the cover of darkness. It took me running my first 5K (I cried the morning before the race, feeling like a poser and that I was going to make a fool of myself) to realize that, hey, I AM a runner! I let it go, and am no longer self-conscious at all when I run. I figure, for every person looking at me and thinking, “PSH, look at that chubby girl trying to run!” there is probably another person watching who thinks, “Wow, if she can do it, maybe I can give it a try too!” I am always encouraged when I see people who do not fit the physical stereotype of “runner” out there giving it their all, no matter the pace. I love thinking that maybe someone will be encouraged by seeing me, too.


  6. Dorothy! I can’t believe this happened to you, too! Oh my gosh…three summers ago when my husband gave me his military training program to start a walk/run program, I timed it to only run through the alleys, being sure to stop in front of the houses! I remember feeling TERRIFIED, assured people were peering out their windows thinking, “Look at that poor girl…who does she think she’s kidding? And do you see what she’s WEARING?!” It took me the whole summer (at least) to get over and realize no one cares as much about me and my shenanigans as I think they do…and that’s a good thing. :) Thank you for sharing this!

  7. Kathleen! I totally get this!…your story is so similar to mine! I, too, like to think that if people see me trying, it just might inspire them, too. It’s kind of a cool transformation, really; to begin fearing how I look and hiding under the cover of darkness, to embracing it and feeling something good might actually come from someone seeing me! 😀

  8. yes absolutely! Coming back from an injury now and having to run slower and shorter distances with the same group of ladies I previously kept up with is so embarrassing and frustrating! I know I will get back there eventually but it’s pretty hard right now.

  9. I definitely felt this way when I first started running and wouldn’t leave my neighborhood to run on “real roads” because I was so self concious about the people driving past! Now I rock the roads without worrying about who is passing by but it took me awhile to get to that place.
    Karen @karenlovestorun

  10. Dorothy! I can’t believe this happened to you, too! American state my gosh…three summers agone once my husband gave Pine Tree State his grooming program to begin a walk/run program

  11. Great post Dorothy! I can totally relate – I was a “jock” in my college years and lived in the “jock” dorm. We were all kinesiology majors, and most of us were also varsity athletes. Despite being very active in my sports, my nutrition SUCKED and I gained a ton of weight, and I remember being too embarrassed to go out to run or workout to lose the weight. I finally was comfortable enough to workout to lose weight when I moved off of campus.

  12. As one who considers himself a big dork, yes I have felt embarrassed. That’s a big reason why I started running so early in the morning, so very few people would see me. I still hate it times running out in public when I’m just not ‘feeling it’ and there’s a chance people could see me walking. (Egads!!!) But you just have to tell that voice in your head to shut up and motor on.

    Thanks for the post, D!

  13. Delusional says:

    You should be embarrassed!

  14. You should be embarrassed by your behavior. Please stop visiting this blog.

  15. I can totally relate to this, I have a similar issue with going to the gym. At some point I just had to suck it up and motor on. I have to admit I still prefer to workout at home.

  16. I was teased and bullied mercilessly when I was growing up, and that may appear to be a negative thing…. but really it was a positive. It was a positive because it taught me to find self affirmation, and reinforced a strong desire to not care what other people think. When I run, I’m never embarrassed, and if anyone was to judge me negatively for my running, they can feel free to throw down on the starting blocks, haha.

  17. I felt the same way before when I was just having my first runs outdoors. I remember people staring at me as if something was wrong with me. I always start running when there were only few people outside because I really keep myself from being seen. But by the time that running and jogging became a trend in our community, I started to have less worries. I run with few people and sometimes I invite my friends to run with me. I am still thankful that I never stopped running just because of the negative feedback I received. Instead I used them as a challenge to prove other people that nothing is wrong with what I am doing.

  18. Thank for being that open to us Mile
    I can say that I’m feeling the same way right now when I run outdoors. I get a weird feeling when people start staring at me and I always pretend that I’m looking at something. It’s very annoying hopefully I will over come it.

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