The other day I was talking to my sister about her recently-returned running struggles, trying to coach her through how she’s been feeling lately about running.
And I asked her to clarify something for me:
When you have a “bad” run, is it because it’s hard or is it because the run challenged you?
I think that’s a very important distinction when it comes to running, a conclusion I only recently came to myself. (as for my sis, she’s struggling with something that this girl overcame last year and I *know* my sister can overcome it too…so c’mon, give her your vote of confidence today, mmk?)
I used to always categorize a run as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on how ‘easy’ or ‘hard’ the run felt. But it wasn’t until recently, when I find myself hitting my running stride, that I’ve been categorizing the majority of my runs as ‘good’ – but not because they are easy (they are never easy), but because each run is a challenge. Sure, there are moments where I feel like my legs are humming right along without *as* much effort as normal, but 9 times out of 10, I’m pushing it, struggling and slogging through those miles.
But it’s at the end, when I’m huffing and puffing and catching my breath, that I look back at each mile I ran and I’m happy. It was a good run. Because it was a challenging run.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Running is not easy for me. Not at all. Every day, every run, tests me physically and mentally. It’s draining. But it’s worth it. This is why I run. Not to achieve as many ‘easy’ runs as I can, but to achieve as many good, challenging runs as I can.
Because really, isn’t that why so many of us have a love/”hate” affair with running? Because it’s challenging. It’s work. It’s an experience I’m endlessly grateful I get to have, especially when I know that others either aren’t able to run at all, or are sidelined with injuries right now.
So next time you lace up and hit the road? Try not to categorize your run as ‘hard’ and instead approach every run as a challenge, a good challenge you’ll happily take on any day of the week. Because you (and I) can.
(editor’s note – for those of you that do not run for whatever reason, this mindset totally applies to any workout that challenges you, not just running. Just thought I’d call that out. :))