What Becoming a Runner Taught Me About Minimalism


Sycamore Trails, Des Moines, Iowa (Photo Credit Terra Ash Bruxvoort)

When I was a senior in college I took up running. I was overweight, out of shape and had vowed that I would never be a runner. I heard about the Couch to 5K program on weight loss forums and in fitness programs. I started the program thinking it would just be something to focus my attention on for nine weeks, and then I probably wouldn’t keep running. I would just move onto something else, like more biking or walking.

Running was always incredibly difficult for me. As a child I always tried to be absent on the day we ran the mile. I wasn’t fast, or coordinated, and I hated playing sports. I preferred wandering in the pasture behind my house and reading books under trees. I exercised a lot as I got older, but I thought people who ran were stupid. Probably because it was so difficult for me.

The Couch to 5K program breaks running down into small, manageable chunks. At first you’re only running for a minute or two at a time, and then you work your way up until you’re running for a full thirty minutes. The first time I ran the Couch to 5K program I approached every run with a certain sense of fear. What if today is the day that I fail? What if today is the day that it’s just too much for me? 

I never failed though. Some days I ran slower, and some days I wanted to quit, but I managed to complete every run in the program and at the end I found myself as a runner.

I had to take some time off of running during the last year due to injuries, and I’m actually starting the Couch to 5K program again right now. I’ve modified it a little bit so it takes five weeks instead of nine, because I have been running 2-3 miles on a fairly regular basis already. I don’t need the Couch to 5K program to start running again, but I need to feel some small victories and remind myself of how far I’ve come.

I’ve been wanting to start a minimalist lifestyle for several months, but the task seemed so huge and unattainable that I kept putting it off. I’ll start practicing minimalism… right after I buy this outfit. I’ll start saving money… right after I get a tea. It’s too easy to put these big goals off forever. And before you know it, they’re sitting in the back of your closet along with that pair of jeans that never fit and those shoes you swore you would wear but never did. It’s just an idea of what you wanted to be.

Don’t let your life sit in the back of a closet.

Any goal is within reach if you break it down, just like the Couch to 5K program does for wannabe runners. With minimalism there are so many things I want to do. I want to get rid of so much of my stuff. I want to adopt a digital nomad lifestyle (more on that later). I want to save money and reduce my monthly budget. It is really overwhelming.

This past weekend I sat on my bed just trying to figure it all out. How will I have time for this? How will I have time to get rid of all of this stuff? It seemed like so much work.

Until I started to break it down. I don’t have to do everything today. This lifestyle is for my life, not just for this month. Just like when I became a runner, I became a runner for life. By breaking this huge goal down into smaller steps I will be able to reach an extremely minimal lifestyle.


For example, my one small step for the weekend was to go through my books and movies. At first my goal was to get rid of 25 percent of my books and movies during the next six months. This weekend, however, I decided that I could only keep 50 books and 10 movies. That might seem like a lot to some of you, but I have several hundred books and probably a couple hundred movies. Everything else, I decided, must go.

It was amazing how when I just decided I had to get rid of everything and only pick out the things I truly wanted the task wasn’t that hard. I found that I had plenty of room to keep all of the books I truly love and a stack of movies I watch on a regular basis. Everything else I can give up freely.

If you’re interested in starting a minimalist lifestyle with me, I hope you’ll sign up for my email list here. You don’t have to sit on your bed and figure this out alone! Let me do the heavy lifting for you. I’ll be sharing more details on my plan for the first real month of the Minimalism Challenge in an email next Tuesday!


One thought on “What Becoming a Runner Taught Me About Minimalism

  1. Excellent start; you will not regret the decision I can assure you!

    Walden by Thoreau is one of my absolute favourite pieces of writing. It’s cool to find someone that also appreciates these ideas!

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