When you run a lot, you inevitably end up talking about running. If I’m being quite honest, I don’t talk about it on my own accord, in that I don’t typically bring it up and try to yak on about my running. But if someone brings it up, I have lots to say, and in the end, yes, I probably have answers to a lot of your questions, or have had experiences I can share and use to help you out in your own running. This is after all, part of coaching and helping people develop into runners: using your own knowledge and experience.
Part of this, is hearing new runners’ chatter and listening to bits and pieces of “it’s so hard,” and “it’s so tiring,” and “I thought I was going to die,” as they talk about their recent running experiences. Or I hear people say running is too hard and they could never do it. Or sometimes, they just get straight to the point and say to me, “does it ever get any easier?” Well yes. But not really.
When I fill in my weekly running training diary, or am planning my weekly runs, I never call any of them easy runs. I have recovery runs, or runs where I consciously focus on maintaining a slower pace, but none of them are dubbed easy runs. Running isn’t easy.
It gets easier than those early, first fragile days when you start out, where everything hurts all the time and you feel like you can never catch your breath. It gets easier, but not easy. Because just as you reach that point where you can easily run your route that previously was hard, you start to push a littler further and see if you can add on a few more minutes, or another couple of kilometers. You start to want to challenge yourself and push a little harder: go faster or further or for longer.
Or just as things seem to be coasting along nicely and your runs flow easily and you bounce along happily, you head out the door one day and it’s like you’ve been kicked in the gut: every step is a struggle, your legs feel heavy, your stomach hurts, your mind won’t shut up about the need to quit and walk right this minute, and to quite frankly, the whole thing is a slogging sufferfest. Welcome to running. This is what happens.
Running is never easy, because you either make it harder for yourself, or the running itself makes it hard for you. Some days you are feeling amazing and that little voice in your head says, “how much can you push today?” and then you push your pace and make it hard. Other days, you are feeling like crap and your mind says,”I’m going to make you push today,” forcing you to muster up all that inner mental strength to push through what should have been an easy 5 miler. No, none of it is easy.
Running isn’t meant to be easy. If you are starting out running and hoping you will reach this point where it will just be easy and you will be super thrilled every day to go run the run you know you are capable of, jumping out of bed, lacing up your shoes, and hitting the road, think again. Because some days it will still be damn hard. Damn hard to get out of bed to get started, damn hard to keep going once you’re in it, and damn hard to run the run you know you are capable of.
And then, on the days when it seems easy, you’ll be ready to make it harder, pushing yourself more, or asking yourself how much more you can push.
But this is how running is meant to be. It’s meant to challenge us, push us, make us expect more from ourselves. It’s meant to push you down so you have to struggle to get back up and come back stronger, and it’s meant to make you work – in your body and your mind day after day after day.
And it’s meant to be hard. Love it for that. Let’s go embrace the sufferfest and suck. The push and the pull, the slog and the grit. Because some days that’s exactly what it is. Running isn’t supposed to be easy.