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.