The first time I ever went for a run, I was in 8th grade. My softball coach made me run laps around the softball fields as a punishment for talking too much. Oops. I was really embarrassed, and took off with speed. I probably looked like Phoebe on that episode of "Friends", where Phoebe and Rachel begin running in Central Park together, but I didn't care. I distinctly remember feeling the wind in my hair, and feeling really free. It was at that moment in the park, gazing back at my teammates from afar, that I thought, "wow, this is kind of nice; peaceful. I can just run."

Needless to say, that season was my last season of softball, and from Freshman year on, I joined the track team as a sprinter. I wasn't a track star by any stretch of the imagination, but I liked being on a team where all I had to do was run. Show up, and run.

Those laps around the perimeter of the softball park were game changing for my life. I am not an amazing runner, but I do it because I CAN, and I have found it to be therapeutic and empowering. My relationship with running has waxed and waned over the years. Sometimes I love it, and other times I'm not into it. Currently, however, I am back in love with running because I am in training for the Twin Cities 10 mile with a friend! (so exciting!)

However, sometimes, I just run because all I need are my shoes. Running is a way to just let go of the days problems, and take in some fresh air and scenery. I believe virtually ANYBODY is capable of running, especially if you are willing to sidestep these top 3 myths that I am about to debunk! Some of these myths have stopped potential running rockstars dead in their tracks, before they even lace up their running shoe! Have any of these myths ever gotten in your way?

1. You run too slow to be a "runner."
OK, really? I am a fitness professional, and when I run, I like to run ten minute miles. I don't run for speed. I run for joy. I run because I can; because I get to. Understand? A person's running pace is unique to every individual. The beauty of running is WE, ourselves, determine how fast, how far, and how long we run. BOOM.

2. You can never walk in a race, or when you go out for a run.
SO not true. Have you ever watched the runner at the stoplight doing high knees in place while he or she checks their pulse and waits for the signal to change? You don't HAVE to do that! I know, I know, you are out to run-right? Listen, if you need a walk break to re-group, or if you would like to just wait patiently while the signal changes, you are not cheating! It's OK, you will not get a citation from the running police! For goodness sake, please walk off a side stitch if you have to, take a sip of water if you're thirsty, walk and adjust your underpants, it doesn't matter. It's all OK!!!!

TIP: If you are in a race, the best times to take walk breaks are at the water stops. Lots of seasoned runners do this. Water stops are usually evenly spaced throughout runs, and it serves as a great time to re-group. Also, if you take the time to stop at the water stop, you can actually drink and swallow the water and stay hydrated. No need to grab and run like you see in the movies. You can also set up a plan to take scheduled walk breaks throughout ANY run. In fact, Jeff Galloway, an American Olympian and the author of Galloway's Book on Running actually recommend walk breaks for Marathon runners. So, bottom line, it's ok to walk! It doesn't mean you are cheating! BOOM!

3. Running wrecks your joints.
Some runners are concerned there may be truth in this myth. While runners can suffer injuries to the ligaments, tendons and cartilage of the hip, knee, ankle joints, etc. Recent evidence actually suggests that running can actually reduce a person's risk of developing Osteoarthritis. The article, "The Joint Myth: Running and the Risk of Osteoarthritis," by Benjamin Ebert, M.D., suggests that running may actually help prevent or treat arthritis. He believes Osteoarthritis is simply a result of aging. He also believes that those who lead a sedentary lifestyle are a greater risk of Osteoarthritis. Bottom line, if you run a suitable pace and distance for yourself, if you have the right footwear, if you stay hydrated and nourished, running can actually ENHANCE your health, and decrease your risk of developing diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle.

There you have it. DEBUNKED. If you ever thought of trying running, do it! Don't be afraid to walk a little, don't think you have to run fast, and please don't think you are going to wreck your body. The human body was MADE TO MOVE! This month at the Nickie Carrigan Fitness Warehouse, we are offering a 5K training program. We would love to meet you, and help you discover the RUNNER inside of you, or help you become a more confident runner.

Head to: to sign up for the 5K classes today!

Nickie Carrigan is a fitness business owner in the Twin Cities. As a passionate fitness professional, she strives to help others across the country build and/or maintain active and healthy lifestyles. To contact Nickie visit