A Plea from a Runner


We’re very happy to have a guest post by our Running Sister, Brady today……we’re not related, but we like to think of her as our online blogging sibling.  Yeah, she’s a runner…..but she’s part of the family.  What can I say?

A Plea from a Runner

By Brady Gervais

There are runners who also bike, cyclists who run, and I fall into neither category. Not really, anyway.

I’m a chronically injured runner who finds herself in the saddle out of necessity. When I need to stay fit while I’m off my feet, I turn to the bike. It’s better than the alternative: swimming.  My breast stroke is as good as a rock’s.

But, I have a confession: I dislike biking.

A few weeks ago, I bought padded cycling shorts and then went for a ride on a warm fall day along the Chain of Lakes in south Minneapolis.

For about two hours, all I could think about was how much I’d rather be running instead of pedaling. I also thought about what I’d write for this post. I didn’t want to disappoint Darryl.

During that ride, I didn’t get an adrenaline rush or feel the sense of peace I derive from running. I couldn’t be alone in my thoughts about life, work and love. I had to pay attention to the path. I had to be careful.

When I run, I remain alert, but I can get lost in my head and still feel safe.

Most of my exercise since Sept. 1 has been on a stationary bike. Some of you readers (cough, cough, @egggman) who know my frustrations with my latest injury, a tibial stress reaction, have nudged me to get outside and on a pair of wheels.

Another confession: I think I prefer using the stationary bike to riding outdoors.

Okay, pick your jaw up.

I sweat at the gym. I don’t sweat much on the bike when I ride outdoors. I don’t have to worry about getting hit by a car or running over a pedestrian. I can listen to music and let my mind wander.

I turn to you, dear reader, to help me love the bike. I have a year-old Trek hybrid bike that I’ve been on four times. Help me break it in.

Brady is a chronically injured runner who’s addicted to the sport. She believes in using her passion to achieve good. In April, she’ll run the Big Sur International Marathon for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation in memory of her dad and in honor of her colleague. When she’s not running – or biking because she’s hurt – she covers crime for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. You can follow her on Twitter and at bradygervais.com.



Enjoy Your Ride

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28 Responses to “ A Plea from a Runner ”

  1. Koifla on December 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I love riding my bike and running. I’ m not doing it because I have to or need to so it is easy. I think it is cool. You may want to look for something you enjoy to rehab. Maybe even rest? Injury is a sign.

  2. Clive Chapman on October 22, 2011 at 1:03 am

    I was laughing all the way through reading that post, not in a mean way, but because you were describing how I feel when I run. I hate it, but do it for variety and because I know it’s good for me in a cross training way. I lose myself when pedalling in a way that never happens to me when I run. Years ago when I was playing rugby and in the Army I was always running because I had to and I wasn’t too bad at it out of necessity. But it felt like I was always just surviving and boy did I have to concentrate at it!

    Your post and my response just shows something that we all know. As human beings we’re all different, and thank God for that, imagine what a boring world it would be if we were all the same!

  3. Martha A. Boyd on October 21, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Brave Brady,  You will love the bike, just give it time.  I’m trying to love to run again.  You think a soccer fanatic like me would be up and running everyday.  I find running hard on my bad knee and painful, but I know is good for me.  I’ll get there, and it helps me that my tweeps are runners too.  Cycling has helped me get my knee back in shape.  I had the same fears at you regarding cycling on the road.  Now, you can’t get me off the road.  You are in one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation.  You are so lucky.  Enjoy every minute on the bike and pretend you are running. Let your mind go wild. My best creative ideas come to me when I’m on the bike.  I’m working on the same while I run/walk.  Best of luck and I hope you love the bike soon, doesn’t matter if it is stationary or outdoors, as long as it works for you.  God bless! Marty

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      You are so sweet, Marty. Thank you. I hope you can enjoy some pain-free miles on those feet. 🙂

  4. Lloyd Lemons on October 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Brady,
    Here’s my story in a nutshell. I love the bike. But it wasn’t always that way. I used to be a runner, but with chronic back problems, running became way too painful and harmful to my spine. I was frustrated for about two years and decided to start riding my old mountain bike again. It was dirty and rusty, and didn’t work well. After a month or so, and a few near collisions, I started to enjoy it a little. Then I bought a new bike. I enjoyed it more. I rode more… and more… and more. I took a safety class from the Bike League. I bought another bike, and quickly became, well… addicted. In 2006 I rode 12,000 miles. I became a randonneur, and I’ve never looked back. Today, my bike is everything. Riding my bike is psychotherapy; it’s my refuge from chaos; my commitment to better health, and my church. 

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:53 pm

      Whoa, Lloyd, that’s quite a story! Riding for you is what running is for me. I may never love the bike the way I love the run, but I think this feedback will help!

  5. @ultrarunnergirl on October 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    First, make sure your bike fits you properly and is in good working order. It’ll never be enjoyable if you are uncomfortable or annoyed.

    Second, don’t think of your bike as exercise. Think of it as adventure. Think back on those runs you did where you ran the same route again because you didn’t have time/miles in your legs/a way to get back if you went further.

    Get a big front light and a red blinking light for your back. You’ll feel better. Get some really cushy bike shorts.

    You also obviously want to find a safe and pleasant route. Running on
    the shoulder of a busy highway mid-day on a hot afternoon is no fun,

    Bicycling is something you can do when it’s too hot to run. It’s the way to go further, see new things, get to actual destinations, coast sometimes, feel the wind in your hair, go faster than you ever could on a run.

    Gratitude is always helpful in coping with loss. If you’re focused on mourning the fact that you can’t run right now, nothing is going to be fun, so give the loss of running a moment, then put it aside. Imagine you are where I was last fall, suddenly unable to do either, and don’t hold it against the bike that you can’t run. I hope you find the joy I have on two wheels!


    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      I liked the bike in 2010 a lot more — because I was on crutches for a running injury. I was allowed to bike in my sock at the gym, so I was so happy just to be doing something. You’re exactly right. I don’t have much gratitude this time around.

      Thanks for your wisdom! It’s helpful!

  6. Lansing Pugh on October 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Brady –

    Although it has been a while since I was in the running groove, I totally understand your frustration. Keep trying different types of cycling opportunities and you might just find a few that not only fulfill what you miss but more. Maybe it will be an incredible sunset, a new friend, a sense of pride on your first century, a competitive urge during an impromptu sprint with strangers, a fox crossing the path ahead, newly found respect for what this amazing machine lets people do. My own annual routine includes several MS 150 rides, several group training rides, a weekly Sunday group ride, and about 2,000 miles on a closed three mile loop (see veloway.com).  Good luck in your quest for a positive experience on the bike! 

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Thank you!

  7. Darryl is Loving the Bike on October 21, 2011 at 11:32 am

    It’s great to see all this support for Brady, her cycling, and her writing.  I am so happy to have her guest posting today at Loving the Bike, and from the looks of it y’all are quite happy as well.  Looks like we’re going to need you as a contributing writer again in the future, Brady.

    My advice is generally to tell people to find the type of fitness that they enjoy the best.  For you that is running, and although it a good to see you on the bike, I do hope you’re back to your passion again very soon.


    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Thanks for giving me a chance to write for your blog, Brother. It was fun!

  8. Susan Jackson on October 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

    We’re pulling for you Brady.  Although it’s nice to hear you are riding a bike, we hope you are back to running very soon.

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      Aw, thank you. I hope I’m back to running very soon, too 😉

  9. Michael McKinney on October 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Running a marathon by yourself is twice the distance as a marathon with other runners, or so I’ve heard.  Try riding with others as much as possible, even if it means drafting somebody you don’t know, introducing yourself to someone you might not otherwise socialize with, showing up late to group rides or signing up for big charity events like the Minneapolis or St. Paul Bike Classics.  It makes a huge difference in the long run.  Good luck.

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Thanks dude. I’ll try that!

  10. Rick Price on October 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I’m not a runner, so I’m not sure what to tell you that can make you like biking more.  I guess some of us prefer cycling and some running, and then there are others who enjoy both.  Maybe look at it from the perspective of pure exercise and conditioning.  Since you aren’t able to run, go riding and know that it is keeping you conditioned for when you are able to run again.  I hope that helps you.

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

      That’s the only reason I bike 4-5 days a week. I know that if I don’t, returning to running would be so much harder. 🙂

  11. Jessica on October 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Hi Brady, how come you aren’t writing at Loving the Run any longer?  That site isn’t the same without you, so I’ve found new running blogs to add to my Google Reader.  I really love your writing so it was nice to see this one today.  All the best.

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

      Thanks for reading me here today! I couldn’t juggle running Loving the Run any longer, so you won’t see me there anymore. Sorry. 🙁

  12. Ally on October 21, 2011 at 7:58 am

    I SO understand this! I too, was an injured runner that turned to cycling out of necessity. Although I do believe in cross training. The one thing that did help a little was getting off the residential and commuter roads and finding paths and trails to ride on. I am fortunate to have three nearby, the farthest being 20 minutes away by car. I, too, felt like I couldn’t let my mind drift, didn’t feel the adrenaline rush, both of which were helped a little by getting on a dedicated path. It still wasn’t running, but it was better. And I started to enjoy it. Just a little. 🙂

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Do you get any sort of adrenaline rush now? Yes, cross training is important. I don’t do it nearly enough when I’m healthy. I was better about it when I was training for the Chicago Marathon coming off a heel stress fracture. I was scared to death I’d get hurt before the race, so I tried to bike at least one day a week.

  13. Susan Moury on October 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I cycle and swim because I hate running, though I’m walk/running now because I don’t belong to a pool and there isn’t enough daylight after work to get a ride in anymore and I will “run” in the dark, but can’t ride.  I ride on the weekends.  I’m competitive at none of them so. . . I ride on a rail-trail or bike path so that limits the worries to pedestrians and dogs (who are normally under control and no worry.) This will allow you to get your skills up so you feel more comfortable with what you and the bike are capable of.  Try to find someone to go with you.  If you can turn it into a social thing the time and distance will take care of themselves.  Find your local bike club list and post a “ride” with what you are looking for.  For myself I organize a “D” ride for beginners and the not very fit.  I also found the secret of my rail trail, it has a 2%-3% grade and I have a more enjoyable ride if I start with my struggle up the grade averaging 8-9 mph of steady pedalling and  then the ride back to the car is still steady pedalling in a higher gear and I’m getting up to 15-17 mph.  So grade may be part of the struggle.  

    Good Luck!

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:29 am

      I totally agree — cross training is so important. Thanks for reading and for the great tips!

  14. Luanna Moorewood on October 21, 2011 at 7:25 am

    A couple years ago I was in a similar situation.  I started off not really enjoying the bike rides, but stuck with it.  I am not sure what kind of advice I can give you on this, but I found that within a couple months I really started to enjoy it and still do it today.  Now I run and bike and love them both.  Good luck to you.

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Stick with it…yeah, I think that’s what I need to do, too.

  15. Dave Boyd on October 21, 2011 at 7:18 am

    Great post. I appreciate your willingness to share your internal struggles with the rest of us. I’m sure others are in your shoes (no pun intended) as well. As much as you love to run, you should try to open your mind more to the bike. With experience, your pedals will start to beckon you. You will start to find yourself loosing time while deep in thought. You will naturally check your blind spot. You’ll shift to a harder gear (sorry @egggman:disqus ) and love the feel of driving your own body at 20 or 30 mph along those Minnesota lake roads. Running gives a great sense of accomplishment, moving your body without assistance across miles of Earth. Cycling gives you a chance to do it faster, while still feeling the breeze and listening to the geese heading south for warmer water.

    Pedal on Brady. I know you can do it!

    • Brady on October 21, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Thanks for the encouragement, Dave!


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