Running Feels Great. Until It Doesn’t.

People sometimes ask me what it feels like to get out and run. My answer is simple. It feels absolutely tremendous, amazing, fantastic, and wonderful. Until it doesn’t. Then it stinks—big time. The secret that veteran runners have discovered is this: the highs make the lows worthwhile.

Admittedly, running is not for everyone. I fear, though, that many beginners give up on the sport too soon because of a few bad experiences early on. There’s an easy fix: Once it starts to get rough, stop.

When I took up running at the age of 52, a quarter mile was all I could muster. No problem. That’s where the walking began, either straight back home or around the two-mile loop circling my neighborhood. The short-ish distance didn’t diminish my sense of accomplishment one bit.

Gradually, the run portion increased, but I took it easy so I could finish the route smiling. Then came the day (I remember it well) when I decided to stretch my abilities. It was difficult, but I now knew from experience that there would be ecstasy at the finish. And my hope was that maybe next time I’d get a little further before it hurt.

That’s pretty much how it goes. A quarter mile becomes a half mile, then a mile or two, perhaps  eventually an official 5K while wearing a bib. Some go on to 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons, and even ultras. A common thread for all these folk is the mixture of dancing in the clouds and embracing the pain.

Running is one of the greatest feelings in the world … until it isn’t … and then it’s the pits. The newbie should stop and enjoy the victory before agony sets in. Those who’ve been around the block a few hundred times, however, have learned that tomorrow it might feel even worse. But that’s OK, because it will definitely feel even better–in fact, fantastic–as well.

 

One comment

  1. I love the depiction of the running experience as “dancing in the clouds and embracing the pain.” Like so much in life, it’s a mix, and there’s a price to pay for a glimpse of paradise. For me, in four decades of running, it was always worth the price. Until it wasn’t. But I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Thanks for keeping it real, Steve, and saying it so well.

    Like

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