Running is Hard

One of the things I’ve needed to remind myself of post-injury is the fact that RUNNING IS HARD. Running HURTS.

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Running HURTS. You will push yourself to the brink and then run a little further.  The funny thing about running is that it is often difficult to distinguish between legitimate pain (i.e. injury) and just the discomfort of pushing ourselves hard. For me I knew immediately when I was truly injured. It felt different than the normal aches and pains of running.

Running CHALLENGES. Once you reach a goal, there’s always another goal not far behind it. At first my goal was to run without walking or stopping. Then it was running a certain distance, then it was running a certain distance within a certain amount of time. Then the goal was racing. The challenges and goals were always evolving.

Running is MENTAL. I will think a million times during a run “I can’t do this” and “I want to stop! I can’t make it to the finish!” but most of the time it’s all in my head. It’s a mental block, something in me telling me I CAN’T when I know I CAN. I often tricked myself when I was running and starting to feel that mental block creeping into my thoughts. I would tell myself “One More Mile” or “Just run to that lamppost down the street and then you can walk” and most of the time by I got to that lamppost I had gotten over that mental block and kept running.

Running can be INCONSISTENT. Sometimes the food I ate the night before makes a difference. Sometimes the snack I eat right before the run can really effect my run. Weather, clothing, moods, everything can effect the performance of a runner. The important thing to remember is that not every run is going to be great. There will be ugly runs, slow runs, fast runs, great runs.

Running is NOT FREE. Sure, in theory it could be a super cheap form of exercise. In reality it’s not. Don’t make the mistake of skimping on the gear. Get fitted for running shoes at a real running store. It makes a huge difference for comfort and injury prevention. I am so serious about this one. Pay the extra money for good shoes. Same with socks. Don’t wear cheapo socks that will give you blisters. I like Smart Wool (available at REI, Nordstroms and online) and have never had blisters when I use those running socks.

Running is WORTH IT. The pain sucks. Sometimes it’s really sucky. When you’re running and tired and your legs are burning and your brain tells you you can’t make it, you wonder if it’s worth it. Is it worth it? Totally. Hood to Coast hurt. It was brutal and a lot of it was miserable. I don’t regret doing it at all. Would I do that particular race again? No. But I am happy I did it!

Running isn’t COMPARABLE. Stop comparing yourself to other runners. One thing my running injury taught me was to stop comparing myself to other runners, other bloggers. There will always be people faster than me, or slower than me. If I run a race, I’m a runner–whether I cross the line first or last.  Just because I’m not running a marathon every weekend or continually training for some race doesn’t mean I’m not a runner. I’m more than a runner. I’m a swimmer, biker, hiker, walker, weight lifter. All of those things make me a stronger runner.

“When all else fails, start running!”

-Dean Karnazes

QUESTION: In what way is running hard for you?

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and

22 thoughts on “Running is Hard”

  1. Thanks, this is a timely post for me – I’m heading out for a run today for the first time in, well…I can’t even remember the last time I went for a run. It might have been in 2010. It’s going to suck, but feel great afterwards.

    1. I need to start charging for my psychic abilities…people have said several times this week that my posts were timely for what’s going on in their lives. 🙂

      Take it easy out there! Don’t hurt yourself. I think it’s great that you’re getting back to it. Are you a trail runner at all? I see your gorgeous posts that look like really nice places to run.

      1. Phew, I’m back. My run was just as unimpressive as I thought it would be (and everything hurt, mostly in a good way!), so things can only get better. :o)

        I stick to trails whenever I can, it’s more comfortable, fun, and motivating to me than pavement.

      1. Hi Lisa,

        I’m lucky to have a small “gym” at work, so about two years ago I started working out at lunch 4 times per week. I always wanted to work up to jogging/running on the treadmill to lose weight but I found out right away that I HATED to run. I got side stitches every time, my ankles hurt, I was out of breath, it sucked! So I just walked and did strength training instead. But the fact that I felt I “couldn’t” run always bothered me. I read a lot of fitness/weight loss blogs and did compare myself to those women who would run several miles per day.

        Just recently, literally 2 weeks ago, I decided it was all in my head – my body was capable of doing it. So I ran 2 miles – first time ever – then a few days later ran 3 miles for the first time in my life. Now I’ve decided to master 2 miles until it becomes easy, then work back up to 3 – baby steps.

        I finally realize why people like to run, it sucks the entire time but afterward you feel awesome. It can be discouraging to read other blogs where the runners make it seem almost effortless and never talk about hard it is, or the injuries/discomfort it can bring. Thanks for speaking the truth!

        1. Candace- running definitely growson you. It takes time to like it and I found that I liked it once it got easier for me. When I was struggling to catch my breath or figure out pacing, it was hard. When I got used to a routine I loved it. Then I loved seeing my progress!

          Running is definitely mental. I can talk myself out of a hard run pretty easily. You kinda have to trick yourself.

    1. It’s hard for me to do, but easy to say. I still compare my abilities to others. I think a little healthy competition is okay, until it makes us do things that can lead to injury…

  2. I, too, am a beginning runner. I’m on Week 5 of the Couch to 5K program and am getting nervous for Sunday’s 20 minutes of straight running. I have always been afraid of running, thanks to some mean comments in elementary school. Now that I look back, I am so mad at myself for letting things bother me for so long. I’ve tried and failed at C25K numerous times, before. For some reason, this time seems really different. I think a big reason is that I’m finding lots of blog posts like this one (by “normal” people) and have garnered a lot of support from the community I’ve curated on Twitter. Thanks for being a part of that!
    Lydia (@InhabitTheBeauty) recently posted..Weigh In – 9/20/2011

    1. Hi Lydia- congrats on doing the C25K program. I never did it but it sounds like it’s a really solid program for starting out. Don’t let other people discourage you. I’m glad you are getting support from blogs and Twitter. The running community online is SO nice and supportive!

  3. This is great timing for me for this post.. I got back less than an hour ago from my longest training run of the season.. 4 hours.. and it could of been a lot better. I hurt!

    I also knew right away when I was really injured because I couldn’t even step down on my foot without breaking a few tears.

    I think that running is about 70% mental. I also use a lot of tricks on my left brain to keep me moving forward. Breaking up a run into shorter sections helps too.. like you said, “Run to that light post.” And it also helps to not feel down when I have to take a walking break.. I”m not superwoman.
    Eleah recently posted..Garmin Forerunner 305

    1. A 4 hour runner?! Holy moly! How many miles did you do?

      When I got injured last year I knew right away too. It’s a DIFFERENT kind of pain. There’s no tricking your brain into thinking it’s not an injury.

  4. I am officially done with running. I just could never get back what I used to have before I herniated my disk, although I have tried. I don’t like running enough to keep trying to bring it back. Once I start crying over running, that has to be it. It isn’t the same as before when running had it’s hard moments. Now it just doesn’t feel right.
    Lori recently posted..What’s Blooming Today!

    1. That’s too bad. I can relate. I felt that way when I was trying to rehab this year. Lots of tears.

      I think it’s ok that you’re officially done. You don’t have the passion for it? You have passion for biking! That’s great.

  5. OMG Lisa, what a post! As I lay here injured and unable to run, I miss running. I agree—it doesn’t matter what you’re training for (if anything)…how fast you are (6 minute mile? 14 minute mile?) All that matter is running, breaking through your physical and mental barriers.

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