I read that WSJ column and thought "great!" For some people constant improvement is a motivator, but for many competitive pressures are a big barrier to exercise. I'm so old I remember when we called what most people do "jogging" instead of "running."
Regular exercise is good for you. People get dissuaded by the idea that if they don't perform at a certain level they shouldn't bother. When you're first starting out, running feels like dying. The only way you're going to get in a bit of shape is by doing it really slowly. And once you are in a bit of shape, there's no need to set extreme goals. Just keep at it.