Running is always challenging us.
It is a sport where the only person that can do the work is the person looking back at you in the mirror – there usually are no teammates to help make you look good if you are having a bad day.
In other words running is pretty all about what you are doing, when you are running and the challenges you make for yourself.
To simply run
While almost all of us ran at least a little when we kids, fighting the obligations of family, work, the lure of the Internet, other pursuits and the general slothdom that seems to pervade our society make running a challenge.
It is much easier to sit on our ever-expanding ass-ends and push our seats back a little, so that our bellies are not uncomfortably close to the computer desk or rest the laptop on that cushy/mushy lap of ours then it is to open the door and go for a walk – much less a run. To many in today’s society, just getting up to start moving is a serious challenge. You hear the complaints, it hurts, I have too much to do and not enough time and all those other excuses to not run.
Solution: Just freaking get off your ass and start. Running is not the rocket science that some of us try to make it out to be. Put some sneakers and sweats on, open the door and start, you might just be surprised at the results. Yes all the great running gear makes it better and easier, but you don’t need all of that to start – you just need the will to get off your ass and do it. You will probably walk more than run initially – that is okay. Just keep doing it.
This inertia problem isn’t just about beginning runners either. Many long-time runners, run into the getting out the door problem from time to time. You know what to do, put on your running gear, lace’em up and then open the damn door and start putting one foot in front of the other – you might be pleasantly surprised.
Returning from injuries are different, but if things have healed and you are procrastinating starting in again, read the above paragraph.
To run through discomfort
Let’s be freaking honest running is not the easiest thing in the world to do, especially when first starting out or once you add distance and/or speed to your running. Running is not easy, but it is worth it in my opinion to get through the discomfort that you can feel.
It is challenging to get the body to accept the new demands you are placing on it, be patient your body will adapt and at some point you will find that you actually enjoy going for those “uncomfortable” runs and miss it when you can’t.
Sorry discomfort is just part of the challenge of running and I don’t think it matters if you are a beginning runner or a grizzled old veteran, there is a certain level of discomfort based upon how hard you are challenging your body when you are running.
Pain is a different thing and that is what runners need to be able to distinguish – the difference between pain and discomfort.
To run farther
Once someone has overcome the initial challenge of starting to run, the next challenge is to run farther, whether you got 50 feet down the driveway or ran 50 miles, there always seems to be the challenge of training to go further. If someone becomes a runner “how far” is usually a question they ask themselves – sooner more likely than later. The more you run, the more you will ask your self this question.
A reminder here: Too much of a good thing to soon, can be a bad thing. Go slow grasshopper is all I will say on this one.
To run faster
This usually goes together with “to run farther” challenge. Someone who is bitten by the running bug, will at some point attempt to go faster than they have before whether it be a 12:00 or a 6:000 minute per mile pace. If they get caught up in comparing their speed to others or are starting to enter races, they can get caught up in “I have to go faster mantra”. Most runners want to run faster than they are now, it is just how they go about getting there that usually makes a difference between pain or discomfort.
Again tread carefully about going too fast, too soon.
To schedule a run
Do you add running as a non-negotiable part of your life – that it is something you WILL do? If you do, it is a significant challenge – you might be running very early in the morning, at lunch time or later when everyone else is winding down. Finding time to run is a challenge, but running is done by even the busiest of people, so you can do it if you are motivated enough. You will miss days running to life, accept it and move on – it is not a big deal, unless you are streaking and that is a whole different topic.
To come back time after time
Injuries seem to be a part of running and they suck! They interrupt your training at the worst possible moment and it doesn’t matter whether they happen as a result of running or just happen as a part of life. However, they happen, injuries will affect your running. Runners are loath to stop running and will attempt to run through many injuries or if they do take time off, they will attempt to come back quicker than their “medical staff” (usually the person in the mirror for minor injuries) planned for them too. Runners do this time-after-time. Even old farts want to get back out there and keep running and risk further injury to be able to say that “Yes I ran today”.
If you haven’t been injured count your blessings and be ready.
To train smart
A big challenge that most runners have is to train smart. We find this great plan or coach who will help us train for our next event (5K up to Ultra distance race and all those distances in between). We really do want to train smart, but in our exuberance to do more when things are going great, we do that little extra, so that we can get that extra mile in or take the extra 10-20 seconds off our scheduled pace, we don’t listen to the recommendations that we need to rest or cut-back training to get better. The old saying in the window “While you are standing here, someone is out there running” seems to be our mantra to always do more.
That is what runners are usually better at – doing more until we can’t. Then we look back with 20/20 hindsight and saw that we were not training all that smart.
I don’t have an answer for this one – I can’t be accused of training very smart – after all I am a runner ;-).
To brave the elements
Weather doesn’t really stop runners from running, many will just dress differently and choose different gear to carry or wear. It doesn’t matter whether it is 90º with 90% humidity, bordering on hurricane force storm or a snow storm (Nor’Easter”), at some point you will see some runners out there running either in it or shortly after the worst is over. In the case of snow storms you will see runners usually not too long after a snow plow goes through. If it is too bad outside there is always the dreadmill – effective and boring as hell.
Besides if you run out in all kinds of weather you get bragging rights about how bad it was, while if you jump on the treadmill it doesn’t give you the bragging rights about having run out in the Blizzard of whenever.
To run where ever we can
Runners run where ever we can, it might be in: cities, urban, rural environments; concrete sidewalks, tarred roads, dirt roads, no roads, trails, hell we even run in place on belts that go no where (treadmills). There have been races in war zones, arctic and antarctic extremes, Death Valley to Mountain tops, running up stairwells of very tall buildings and pretty much every place in between – if someone can run there, someone has probably run there. It is a challenge to find a place to run, but if we are motivated enough – cough cough stupid enough, runners will run.
To brave the attitudes of non-runners
That non-runners do not understand runners is an understatement. They see us putting our bodies through things they wouldn’t dream of doing and in conditions that make them ask what kind of idiot would be out there doing that in ________ (you add in the words). The public sees us as slightly crazy, but largely harmless, unless we are running in a race that interrupts their journey somewhere, then they become quickly irritated at our efforts to go beyond slothdom. While most of our co-workers, families and friends either tend to support our slight eccentricity, some will attempt to undermine our running through their negative comments or actions.
It is just something that runners have learned to deal with along with not automatically flipping off every car that hollers insults at us while we are out for our run. I am down to 1 in 3 most of the time – but that depends on how the run is going – difficult run might result in 3 for 3. I guess that is why I like trail running so much, not near as many people around and those that are out there, might understand your running.
To have fun
This is the challenge that many runners forget is a very important part of running. Many runners are so consumed by our quest for data, how far we have gone, how fast we got there, when we can fit the run into our schedule, what our present injuries are, whether we are training smart, what the weather was like or braving the attitudes of others – that we forget to have fun running. With all those other distractions it is no wonder that it is challenging to remember that running is fun.
How many of us have forgotten the pure joy that simply going for a run can be?
Maybe that joy of running is why so many of us brave these and other challenges to keep running and we just didn’t think of it that way.
We run because we enjoy running – I think that many of us fit in this category.
The reality is
How long it takes you to get from point A to point B is entirely up to you, based on the work you have done before that first step. Sure you can have the greatest coaches, all the latest technology, the best running gear that money can buy, but in the end running is about you putting one foot in front of the other and meeting running’s challenges yourself.
Running is not always easy (even though some days it seems to be), but it is damn rewarding to those who enjoy a good challenge Especially when those challenges change from day-to-day. No run is ever exactly alike, they are like snowflakes – each run is unique.
Enjoy your running challenges and remember to have some fun too!