Opinion: Let’s Face It, You Hate Running

Hear me out on this one. A lot of people say that they enjoy running, but there is a good chance that all of them actually hate it.

Let’s face it, when you’re in the moment, running doesn’t actually feel pleasant. It’s hard to find joy when you’re out on the trail or the road, and your throat feels dry, you’re breathing heavy, and your legs are burning. The agony overpowers the pleasure, if there was anything pleasant about running in the first place. Plenty of informal surveys and anecdotal evidence say that most people have one predominant thought running through their minds when they run:

“Wow, this sucks!”

We all know it and we’ve all felt it before. How many of you had to do laps for messing up in practice as student-athletes back in the day? Running can be boring and punishing.

Yet for many others, running can be therapeutic. We might find joy in running new trails or new routes, almost as if we were exploring parts unknown. We might run because running clears our minds, and research has shown that running does have positive effects on the brain and areas associated with memory, cognition, and decision-making. Or maybe we run because we value process-oriented outcomes; finally crossing the finish line of a marathon after 26.2 miles and months of training is immensely satisfying in the sense that hard work pays off. Just because we all hate running at some points doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it overall.

So why do you run? Do you run for the reasons above, or do you do it just because you have no idea what else to do?

Some people are so married to the idea of running that they do little else. Ask yourself this, too: why do you hate running? Is it because at certain points, your muscles burn and you can’t wait to finish the race, or because it actually hurts?

If you’re in pain, injured, or not recovering properly from the running that you do, it might be time to re-evaluate why you’re running in the first place. It’s easy to jump the gun and “just run” for fitness, but you’d be neglecting other things that could help you run better—such as strength-training, recovery, and properly-planned training that could make you more durable and resilient for the demands of running.

You probably hate running, but let’s give you reason to actually enjoy the discomfort, and not drag you down into further pain and injury.

by Jeremy Lau