What To Do When Running Is Hard And It Sucks

Photo: Reshot

The only time I was tempted to buy a shirt at a marathon expo, it bore the relatable phrase: “I love running ... except while I’m doing it.”

Running is hard work, but we push through because it’s worthwhile in some way. I always feel accomplished at the end of a run. I love that running makes me strong and it gives me better endurance and defined calves.

But, oh man, sometimes in the moment it just hurts. Other times, it feels OK, but I get bored as heck.

If you’re just starting out, you’re probably getting acquainted with this feeling. If you’re an accomplished runner, it probably still bogs you down on occasion. Here’s how you can deal with a crappy run.

Start Anyway

Real talk: If you stay home, you’ll regret it. Even the crappiest run feels great at the very end, when you take that final step and crack open that bottle of ice water, and for the rest of the day you’re like I did that, whether “that” was an epic 30km or a jog around the block on your lunch break.

Your lungs and muscles get the benefits of exercise whether you enjoy it in the moment or not. Think of kilometres as money in the bank. Make today’s deposit.

Play A Pep Talk

Listen to something inspiring or comforting while you run. I love the tracks in the Nike Run Club app called “Don’t Wanna Run Run” and “Suckcess Run”. Both are designed to get you through those days when you start the run knowing it’s going to be hard.

Or consider other audio options. I can’t be glum when I’m listening to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now”. Find the music, meditation track or podcast that sends you to your happy place.

Grit Your Teeth For 10 Minutes

The first kilometre always sucks. Don’t expect your best performance during the first 10 to 15 minutes, but do go easy on yourself during this time. Run slow or walk, but just keep your body moving. Everything gets easier after you get that first kilometre out of the way.

Remember (Or Imagine) Your Best Runs

OK, maybe today sucks, but do you have a memory of a time that you went for a great run and loved it? (Or even a terrible run where you felt great when you finished?)

If you’re new to running, just think about what you hope to experience when you run. Do you see people jogging in the park and want to feel the way they look, ponytail flapping in the breeze? Build up a mental image of what it would look like and feel like to be on the perfect run.

If you have a specific goal — such as finishing a marathon — visualise that and take the time to add in all the details. Who will be there to hug you at the finish line? What will you grab first, a water or a bagel? Or will you just collapse in the grass?

Sure, today might be freezing and you’re hungry and you’ve never run 5km before and you’re not sure you can do it — but you can turn on that mental highlight reel and take a little internal holiday to a place where things are better.

Give Thanks

I find gratitude meditations a little sappy, but on a rough day, try this: Think of all the things that are going right. OK, it’s cold, but at least I remembered my water bottle. At least I'll be warmed up by the time I get a few blocks down the road. At least I made the time to run in the morning so I don’t have to do this after work.

I hope you don’t need to use this advice during next week’s runs, but I suffered through at least one run in non-ideal weather this week and maybe you did too. How is the running going so far? What obstacles have you encountered? How do you handle your crappy runs — any tips for the rest of us?


Comments

    If you're after fitness first and foremost, trade up, and start stair climbing. It's far easier on the joints, very high intensity, the pain's over quickly, it's great for HIIT, and can be done indoors as well as outdoors, depending on where you live.

    As an ex competitive middle distance runner, I'll never go back.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now