I Never Thought I’d Say This, But…

Running in Brooklyn

I’m starting to get into running.

No one is more shocked than I am. I have been a lifelong why-would-you-run-when-you-can-walk, not-one-single-second-of-jogging-is-enjoyable, who-are-these-crazy-people-running-around-town-when-they-could-be-happily-at-home-watching-a-movie-and-having-a-nice-glass-of-wine kind of person.

But when my twin sister Lucy came to visit this fall, she went on a half-hour run every morning. And on the fourth day, she somehow, impossibly, convinced me to run with her. Here’s what she said to change my mind: Running is just BOUNCE WALKING. You don’t have to run fast. That I could do!

So I threw on my old maternity leggings and a regular bra, and we went for it. We set out from my apartment in Carroll Gardens and ran to the Dumbo carousel. All in, the run was four miles round-trip. I was amazed by how do-able it was, especially with a break halfway through.

We also took a bunch of walking breaks. When I got tired, Lucy would give us a goal: “Let’s keep running until we get to that blue building,” she would say, pointing a few blocks away. And then we’d take a walking break for a minute or two.

Since then, I’ve been totally into it. I love that it takes only half an hour. I run 2.5 to 3 miles in our neighborhood a few evenings a week, past people walking their dogs and strolling home from work. As my friend Claire Mazur said, “My advice is to start with just those few blocks at a time and nothing more. Do that every day for a couple of weeks until you can do ten blocks at a time. And then fifteen, and then twenty! Running is really, really hard when you’re out of practice, and if you push yourself to the point where it’s completely miserable you won’t go back and do it again the next day. So, go easy on yourself — and make consistency your only priority.”

Plus, it’s SUCH AN ANXIETY KILLER. I’ve always been an anxious person, and when I’m feeling stressed and headache-y and tense and jumpy at the end of the day, a half hour run feels so good! I can go out at 7:30 p.m., and by the time I return at 8 p.m., I feel calm and totally renewed. It’s sort of shocking. Claire says the same. Is that true for any of you?

So, for you runners out there, I’m SO curious to hear…

* What do you listen to? I’ve been listening to Mindy Kaling’s book on tape, but I’d also love to find some fun, upbeat music. Also, someone on Instagram mentioned yogic running: “When I started running, I always listened to music, but then I read a piece about yogic running and decided to go music free. I love running with ‘silence.'”

* Where and when do you run? Along the water the morning? At the gym at night? I’d love to hear your routines.

* What running gear do you wear? Right now, I wear a bra, a shirt and leggings from Tracksmith, and I’ve also heard great things about Outdoor Voices.

This post has helpful tips about running for total beginners. I also found this post inspiring — you’re allowed to be a bad runner!

Lots of love xoxoxoxo

P.S. Do you exercise on purpose? And, just for fun, what random little activities do you consider exercise? :)

(Photo from my Instagram)

  1. Ann says...

    I’m late to this post, but it is an encouragement! After many years of wanting to like running (but never actually making it a thing), quarantine has finally pushed me over the edge into it. I live in Capitol Hill, so it is a neighborhood of familiar homes and landmarks, including the Capitol building. Added bonus of getting to say a few prayers as I run past the Capitol, especially at this pivotal time for the country!

    Latest listens, which make the jogs go faster… the Harry Potter at Home Readings & 1619 NYT series.

  2. Kate says...

    I know this post is older but its so true that running is great. I was like you but then i just randomly started bounce walking (literally) myself approx 2 months ago. I have thermo leggings and thermo tshirt (as the temperatures can be around 0 degrees celsius). I use the same shoes as for anything else in winter – barefoot leguano thermo. I turn on charity miles to support ngos, zombie run and endomondo to track. As music during zombie run i listen to maroon 5 on spotify – those are good beats! I run few times a week now approx 2 miles and i love it. I have been slowly increasing pace and distance. It is possible and fun, if there is anyone with zero fitness like me just start literally bounce walking slowly and focus on not getting out of breath – thats what worked for me!

  3. Mary Farmer says...

    I run walk. I never thought I would like it. I’m 47 and just started and honestly never thought I would enjoy it but I do. There are times I wish I could run and not stop, I get lost in it. If you haven’t tried it please do. I have lost 20 lbs. and stopped smoking after 30 years so that I can breathe better while I run.

  4. Leah says...

    I have been running for 10 years. I ran through both my pregnancies, job changes, vacations, you name it. I have run lots of local races, but I’ll go long stretches running just for pleasure, with no race to train for. Sometimes I’ll listen to podcast, other times I don’t listen to anything, just depends on the day.

    I love that you really don’t need any fancy clothes or special equipment (although I do recommend a good pair of shoes!) and you can do it anywhere. Lastly, sometimes you only have 20-30 minutes to squeeze in a workout, and running gives you a great workout in a short amount of time.

    If I really don’t feel like running, I just say to myself, “just do 20 minutes”. You can do just about ANYTHING for 20 minutes.

  5. Nicole says...

    I’ve been so inspired by this post that I actually started the C25K app to train for a 5K. I am not a runner, never have been! Even when I was in top shape swimming in high school. I’m 39 and did my first running 5K today! No walking! I’ve even shocked myself. Hoping to keep it up and maybe even do a 10K at some point. Thanks for all the advice in these posts!

    • Marjan Hammink says...

      ….ha, exactly the same here – (although I’m 54); downloaded the cto5k and got into running again after 5 years of mainly cycling. Running will get me through dark winter days.
      I use a personal spotify-running-playlist; some of the songs will inspire me to do intervals, sprints, slow down etc.

  6. Cindy B says...

    I started running for my body, but kept running for my mind. Best therapy there is. You can solve a lot of life’s little problems on a five-mile run. After raising four kids, I am now a gramma, and I’m still out there! My advice: Enjoy it anyway that works for you. You don’t need expensive clothes, or serious schedules, or competition; just buy a great pair of shoes to save your feet, stretch out to avoid injury, and maybe wear some blinky lights in the dark.

  7. Running is my jam! I mean it’s awful and hard and horrible while it’s happening but then this amazing thing happens…I just start to zone out and think about whatever issues are bothering me. I call it moving meditation and after it’s over I feel amazing.

    I’m a ball of anxiety and if i can get a run in 3x per week I feel nearly human. I sleep better, eat better and surprisingly my body feels less creaky and tight.

    I have a preferred gear list after years of running, but what I love most is that you don’t really need any special stuff. Just a decent pair of shoes.

    I am intrigued by this Tracksmith brand! I’m loving the A-line tanks.

    My gear-
    shoes: Mizuno Wave Riders for distance / Brooks Fresh Foam Zante for tempo
    socks– VERY IMPORTANT: injinji, smartwool
    bras: Under Armour and Oiselle
    shorts: Nike, Lululemon
    GPS: Garmin Forerunner

  8. Kelly says...

    I never comment, but I’ve always want to start exercising. Let’s just say the “bounce walking” got me, now I’m planning to start any second!

  9. Shira says...

    I never comment, but I love your blog and read it often. I just started running myself (after having a second boy) and I love the Spring app – it matches the music’s beat to your running pace and the music selection is both random and awesome. And apparently I’m running the exact beat of every Drake song ever.

    I also sometimes just really focus on my breath to create a mini-meditative run… it’s good.

  10. Lindsay says...

    So, I’m hesitant to write this because I have always hated running. I tried it and never got the “runners high” and just didn’t understand how people could enjoy it. Now that I have two kids I don’t have a lot of time and I feel like running is pretty efficient. So….so far, lets just say I don’t hate it. I walk/run for about half an hour and I’m hoping to keep it up. Thanks for inspiring me!

  11. Rema says...

    ‘Bounce walking,’ ha – I love it! I’m also a relatively new runner and am obsessed. I credit my coworkers who I call matter-of-fact runners. It’s just a part of their day and who they are. No pressure, no holier/fitter-than-thou mentality, encouraging and warm to those who are less lithe (ahem, me). Also, since our move to Sydney I’ve been completely swept up in this city’s devotion to physical and mental health. It’s absolutely lovely. I run to and from work, and in the early mornings and evenings it’s the perfect way to chill out and reset my brain for what’s ahead. Cheers to you! May our miles ahead all be smooth :)

  12. Yay, so happy to hear this! Congrats, Joanna! I love how democratic running is — anyone can do it. It’s so empowering. I just ran my first half marathon this year and I was surprised by how much of an accomplishment it felt like. Here’s to lots of great “bounce-walking” (love that!) to come!

  13. Courtney says...

    So proud of you, Joanna! I’m gonna start this weekend! One of the most annoying things I’ve found about running in the past is the headphones situation….I’ve used apple headphones that came with my phone, but they just pop out! Any recommendations on good headphones for running?

    • annie says...


  14. Rebecca says...

    I have been running throughout college and my first few years in the professional world, and it sounds silly in a way, but it is the best way to keep your peace of mind and feel confident about yourself! I am naturally an anxious person, too, but when I run I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can think clearly. It has become a way of life for me! I run every other morning, right when I wake up, for about 25 -30 minutes. I feel “off” when I skip a few days!!

  15. i LOVE running. after my 2nd was born i picked it up because we were living in southern california and everyone and their mother is a runner and i was feeling left out. ha! but i got obsessed! i ran my first half marathon last year and started training for a full when i got pregnant and running became a bit too uncomfortable and the OB and i decided to stop. but i miss it tons and can’t wait to start training again! by the way, i ran my first mile EVER right after my daughter was born 2 years ago. i still can’t believe i’m a ‘runner’.

  16. Emily says...

    I’m SO happy to hear this. I was a runner in college, but a long sprinter, and I have an been trying very hard to make the transition to “go on a long slow run” lifestyle after living a life that revolved around running fast and strong. At the same time, I am living in a new city with a new job and a new home.. and also struggle with anxiety. I ran a LOT when I first moved to this new place, but struggled with consistency when I began work – I was so anxious that I couldn’t find the will to do it, even though fitness has always been a huge part of my life. I finally started running again recently and feel so much less antsy and anxious. It’s a beautiful renewal. I personally prefer the silence in running – I like listening to the sounds around me and observing my surroundings. I like the calm. I don’t spend a lot of time alone so running provides some solace. Good luck with your adventure! You will love it.

  17. I love running!
    I am a bad runner, i run after work, before eating, at 2.30 pm… later i go to take my kids, so it is the only momento i can do it.
    I like to run 4 times a week, about 4,2 km. It takes me 21 minutes.
    One tradition i love in Spain, is finishing the year running, there lots of popular runnings at 31st of december. I have runned it even in my first pregancy ( i was of 3 months)
    I do not listen to music, i use this time to think, to clarify my mind
    About trainners, i love adidas boost, for leggings, i have ones from Primark and love them. Low cost brands as HM or Zara have clothes for running.

  18. Phyllis says...

    I feel like everyone I know is getting into running and I literally just joked to some friends the other night that the last thing I would ever do is become a runner, for the same reasons you originally listed — perfectly happy not moving, thanks! But you made it sound really doable just now, and I kind of hate that :p! My good friend is kind of trying to talk me into trying it and I might just have to…I think it would shock my husband if he knew!

  19. Kate says...

    As I’m reading this at work (shh!), my coworkers in the next office are literally discussing how they just started running. It must be a sign to start…

  20. That is a really great way to start back up again! Or, begin running at all! I will have to try that tactic with my boyfriend, who hasn’t run further than 0.2 miles since he was 12! :-)


  21. Julia says...

    I can only agree with all of you who claim that running is like a meditation. Afterwards I like to enjoy a “citrus rehydrator”. See receipe here

  22. Summer S says...

    Best upbeat running tracks: Girl Talk or Milkman. Mashed up hits of your favorite songs on repeat, so easy and fun to zone out to.

  23. So glad you are getting into running – it is indeed great for body and mind.
    If you enjoy being outdoors surrounded by acres of forests, ponds, streams, and great views, check out the Greenbelt trail system in Staten Island for some of the best trail running in New York City! There are also organized trail races throughout the year – this is where you’ll meet a great group of like minded runners, and feed off lots of positive energy. Happy trails!

  24. Ok, if I were to write a post about running it would sound just like this! After I stopped setting crazy expectations for myself when it came to running, I noticed that I actually started enjoying it. Some days I have to take a lot of walking breaks and other days I can go almost the whole 3 miles without stopping. Just by pushing myself a tiny bit more each time I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten better!

  25. I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk about When I Talk about Running” and his thoughts are so good for new runners. He is an advocate of starting. Just start and keep going, keep starting every day or every few days and don’t push too hard. I whole-heartedly recommend the book! It’s like the bird-by-bird of running.

  26. Gabriela says...

    You inspired me! I was a runner pre children and hadn’t run in 3 years. Not once since getting pregnant with my first. After reading this, I went for my first run yesterday! Running seemed so overwhelming but I took the advice and started small. Just one mile. It was doable and I truly enjoyed it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  27. Hey Jo! I’ve been bewitched by running for a couple of years now, too. I was always a lazy sedentary person, but in the past few years have been really enjoying the awesomeness that exercise brings to your life. I have a bad right knee that hurts when I run too much, so I’m forced to take lots of walking breaks. Plus, I run along the Barcelona seafront which has lots of ramps, and going up-ramp is always less painful on the knees. After a year of going at it, I now start to feel my mind wander while I run (rather than going “omg I just need to reach that next building and then I’ll take a break”), which is beautiful for sorting through all sorts of issues that crowd you during the day. I used to like music to pump me up, but I’m an advocate of the purist, silent run now (all the better for thinking).

    This Esquire article is amazing:

    “There’s a trance point. When everything that was once smudged across your mind comes into sharp focus. Really, it’s just like – stay with me – meditation.

    The key is repetition.

    Repeating the same action over and over – a chant, a breath, or, yes, a jog – allows the mind to relax. You, literally, become mesmerised.

    And when your mind can relax, excellent things happen. Some liken it to a body of water: if you’re constantly moving around it, dirt gets kicked up and the water becomes cloudy. But, be still, let the water settle, and everything can be seen clearly.

    It’s the same reason your mind wanders when you try to go to sleep – because it’s finally been given a chance to breathe. Maybe you’ve been frustrated that your most brilliant ideas and crucial ephiphanies only visit before sleeping – go running, and they’ll happen on your schedule. It’s a very real weapon.


    You can’t fall into a trance if you’re fiddling with your new, overpowered in-ear headphones or jostling with your iPhone for that perfect song.”

    I look forward to following your progress!

  28. I love running, something I simply can’t live without since I got the hang of it..
    However,I rather not listen to music just focus on my breathing & I find it rather therapeutic..
    Got a vast selection of Nike Running shoes, so now I’ve got an excuse for shopping for shoes plus Nike also happens to make amazing leggings with concealed pockets to carry my keys minus the bulk, and recently I’ve decided to add some leg weights to make it a bit challenging !

  29. I completely agree! It really helps having someone motivate you to go exercise! I’ve also found that treating yourself to something delicious (and healthy!) at the end of your run also serves as great motivation!

    I wrote a similar post a while back documenting how I managed to get from dont-even-think-about-making-me-get-off-the-couch to regularly hitting the gym twice a week!

  30. Meghan says...

    This American Life, Serial (it’s back!), The Moth, Strangers (via KCRW in LA), Radio Lab… all awesome for any length of run! I am a marathon runner… it made it so much more simple to even fathom doing my first one when I thought to myself “Well, that’s only 4 episodes of This American Life!” Ha!

  31. I recently came to the same discovery this summer, I didn’t have to be fast to run! I had just gotten that wrong my entire life. I have anxiety as well so it helps a lot. I also agree on the little by little theory. I didn’t run very far, but I did it every day, so it helped!

  32. Carrie Snow says...

    Yes! Running helps with anxiety management. I aim for 3 days a week, about 45 minutes a run, no headphones, just time to myself, to process thoughts, ideas. It’s meditation and exercise all in one. I also love that running helps me relax my always-tense shoulders and neck, since the focus of the work is on my legs and lungs. As a mom of two little kids, I’ve come to see running as a gift I give myself, a true luxury that is just for me
    ; )

  33. Lucy says...

    I’m so so pleased for you! I found running a couple of years ago when I got into the London Marathon and it has totally changed my life. I too am a very anxious person and running helps me to manage this and make sense of things. The confidence it gives you is an added bonus too!

    One bit of equipment that I am never without is my headphones. I use Aftershokz headphones, which sit on your cheek just before your ear. The conduct the music through your cheek bone, which leave your ears uncovered so you can hear the external noise around you too. Much safer and you can still listen to music!-

    I love listening to disco mixes, Derrick Carter does some brilliant mixes-

    A book that is fantastic too is Running Like a Girl. An emotional story about running as a woman and it has tips about equipment in there too!


  34. Rebekah Madebach says...

    you should check out South Brooklyn Running Club! They are based in Carroll Gardens. All paces and levels welcome! Best group of people ever

    Love your blog :)

  35. Welcome in the running club! You know what’s another pro of running? You really get to know the neighbourhood better!

    xx B

  36. Congrats on running! I’ve been a runner for 35 years (started young running with my dad). It is a great stress reliever. I wear running clothing made by Oiselle ( I even have my own run club in Seattle called the Left Coast Runners. If you are ever out this way, I will join you for a run. Best, Courtney

  37. Carly Roberts says...

    What an inspirational post! It’s so empowering to just START, and make your way to doing something you never thought you could. I too used to haaate running, but signed up for a half marathon with friends as a fun challenge. I still can’t believe I ran 13.1 miles!! It felt like such an accomplishment. But you know what else felt like an accomplishment? Every. Single. Training run. All of them! It’s not always easy, but it’s usually rewarding in its own way. Keep it up!

  38. Good on you for starting a running program. I’ve been running since high school which was (cough) 20 years ago. My running regime has changed through the ages, relationships, marriage, pregnancy, working full-time, post-baby mommying, living abroad… It’s been a constant and a definite stress reliever (plus a great way to keep your booty in top form). Mostly it’s my yoga (especially since I really dislike yoga) – keeps me centered, healthy, happy and a better me. Keep it up. Enjoy and download groovy tunes. :)

  39. Penny says...

    I wear beat up tshirts, cut how I like them and leggings. I’m 45 set a goal at 40 to regularly run my age twice a week. If I do a short (3 mile) one day I try to do 4-5 another day that week. I have three kids and it’s my TIME. My part of the day. I love to run trails by the river but when I don’t have time to commute down there I make it happen in my neighborhood. No matter how grumpy. No matter how I dread it. Also. Has anyone mentioned the improved sex life it brings?! It’s real.

  40. Lauren says...

    I, too, am an unlikely runner! My best friend convinced me to start last year. I started having never really run before and she and I just finished a half-marathon together (I still don’t believe it, even as I type this). She lives in Texas and I live in California, so we met half way in Las Vegas for the race and made a vacation out of the whole experience. It was so wonderful accomplishing something like that together. Now, we are already talking about our next “Racecation.”

    For running accessories, I absolutely love my Flipbelt. You can get them at Brookstone. It is a great, comfortable way to store my phone while I run. Also, something I didn’t know is how important good running shoes are. It really changed my experience when I got new shoes.

    Happy Running!

  41. J says...

    Joanna check out Oiselle for your run apparel, it’s an awesome company run by women, for women. Also, Feetures socks to keep your feet cool, dry, and blister free. Your local running store should have both. So happy to hear you’re enjoying running!!

  42. Ellie says...

    If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, or need some encouragement, check out, wildly funny blog from a mother runner in Colorado. She’s kind of my hero!

  43. Lauren says...

    I just realized — exercise is great for [most] people with anxiety. It gives you something to focus on both in the short-term and long-term, and I have found — at least for me — that it really calms my brain’s hyper-overactive thinking. Plus the endorphins must replace the stress and anxiety or something! Running is really fun, especially urban running. But hiking/running on trails can be really fun and relaxing too!

  44. I started running a few years ago but on the treadmill…And now I don’t anymore because of…the treadmill haha! I would love to run outside and breathe fresh air!
    The thing is I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and neighborhoods have become a bit risky to do so during the last decade. There are a lot of people that do run but I’m a bit paranoid about it.
    However … all this changed yesterday. WE HAVE A NEW PRESIDENT!! And I’m so happy about that. This guy is apparently very committed (fingers crossed) to start a new Argentina (or similar to the one we used to live in many, many, many years ago), he is aiming at zero poverty, no corruption, and higher education standards.
    I’m actually proud of this new government. Hope it works out well!!
    All this to say that I may be giving your method a try in a few months.

    Oh! and I’m currently doing this


    P.S. love your method of starting with two blocks. I would totally do that too!!

  45. el says...

    Excited for you! Especially because even though I’m going to recommend, 1) the best audiobook ever, (great journalism and storytelling) and 2)it is only incidentally about running, I still have not YET begun! A big fat excuse but: I hit rolling hills immediately outside the front door and while I’m trying to embrace how lucky I am, they’re still daunting. Anyhoo, I’ve listened to this at least 5 times all the way through and can not recommend it more as a great story if nothing else:

    Born To Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

  46. yael steren says...

    My sister is a runner and loves it so much, but every time I try I just can’t get into it!! I end up defaulting back to pilates! That being said, for songs – I love old school ones: Now that We’ve Found Love (Heavy D); Ace of Base; Unbelievable (EMF); OPP (Naughty by Nature); etc!

    Glad you’re loving it so much!! xx yael