Running is hard.
Even for people who are enamoured with the exercise, there are bound to be periods of trials and tribulations.
The physical toll on the body can be punishing, from unbearable pain on the joints and muscles, to excruciating strain on the heart and lungs. At times, one can literally feel the jarring of the bones and the pounding of the organs – so much so that you wonder whether this thing called running is in fact good for health.
As the mileage increases, even that physical distress can become secondary to the anguish on the mental side.
The self-doubt that creeps in as the obstacles build up. The trepidation about the long road ahead, with no reprieve in sight. The subsequent loss of focus, followed by questioning of the whole point of putting one foot in front of the other.
All that negativity during a tough run escalates to an overwhelming desire to just quit, to stop and take the easy way out – a decision that seems all the more palatable given the plethora of physical excuses ready at hand.
… then you grit your teeth, reach into the innermost depth of your reservoir and concentrate on just the next step, then the next, followed by the one after that.
You force yourself to do this not because of some masochistic desire to prove your mettle. Rather, you do it because, despite the still arduous road ahead, you don’t want to waste the effort expended on that already travelled.
You do it because you dread the possibility that you could be hoisting up the white flag just moments away from pushing through the ‘Wall’.
You do it because, as any long time runner will tell you, the physical and mental pain often dissipate without warning. Tough times invariably give away to better times. Ying is always followed by Yang.
And when that ‘second wind’ arrives, the sense of relief that you didn’t quit is as exhilarating as the joy from eventually finishing the run. Why? Because the feeling of despair during the darkest times is nothing compared to the feeling of regret from quitting just before success is about to strike.
Indeed, the elation and the sense of achievement at the end of a determined run are directly proportional to the severity of the ordeal one overcomes during the run.
Running is so damn great because it is so damn hard!
Come to think of it, the same can be said for most things worth striving for in life .
And that, I guess, is what makes running such a wonderful metaphor for life.
Keep on pounding.
I could swear you were going to put a picture of Forrest Gump saying, “I…was…run-ning!!”
You’re right, I should have. That guy is my hero, and likely smarter than me too!
Like always, brilliantly written. So glad to be back and reading these entries!!! Cannot wait to share this with my students, you hit on a lot of our vocabulary words.
Welcome back madam! Where have you been? I thought perhaps you got expelled by the school principal for poisoning your students’ young minds with Jogging Dad’s ramblings! 🙂 Thanks for the compliments, you are too kind.
Oh….the truth rings clear. I want to quit often, but the desire to run overpowers it! I guess it’s kind of like what people sy about tattoos…..once you get your first one, you keep wanting more! However, that didnt work for me….:)
Let me guess, you got a tattoo on your left upper arm near the outside shoulder area.
No….I’m not that brave! I got a dorky ladybug coming out of my belly button! There are black dots that are supposed to represent footprints, but the footprints don’t go to the feet……they stop at the bug’s backside! 😉
Really really really really really get this post. Thanks.
Of course you do! You’re a runner and a parent, just like yours truly. 🙂
great post! thanks for the inspiration.
Thanks. Not sure about inspiration but just sharing some experiences!
Beautifully written, JD. Your imagery was perfect. Running is the most humbling thing in the world, I think.
Yes, that and parenting! Thanks for the kind words, so very kind of you. 🙂
I always tell my friends who are struggling with running that if they just mentally lock in, just KNOW they’re not going to walk, just KNOW they’re going to get through the miles…then they’ll be able to do it. I say, “Just tell yourself to keep going. It’s as simple as that. Even if some days your run feels like a broken-down shuffle, you just don’t stop. One foot in front of the other.” And that battle is won. It’s so mental. Once they get past the mental block–wherever that might be, whether mile 3, 6, or 13–they’re there. Great post.
Yes, and once you master that mental toughness, it can be applied to so many situations outside running that you almost feel indestructable!