Sometimes running sucks.
There, I said it. Isn’t it the little secret around the running community, this admission that running isn’t always a joy?
Loved ones pondering the move off the couch and out the door fret about the fatigue and boredom of pounding one foot after the other. “Don’t worry,” we say cheerily. “Press on. It gets easier, and suddenly you find yourself really enjoying your run!”
We mean well, and there’s truth in that kindhearted encouragement. The running experience does genuinely improve after those first few jogs. And once you nail down favorite routes, tunes, and partners, running often becomes a cherished part of the day.
That does not mean that every run, or every season, is a delight.
I’m long-distance training for the third consecutive spring; this time, at last, for the vaunted Boston Marathon. By some standards, this is the pinnacle of running. Training for Boston, in Boston! I have tons of running routes from which to choose, the guarantee of dozens of friends and family cheering on race day, and the ostensibly flexible schedule of a full-time student.
Yet, training has been kind of a pain in the butt.
A particularly demanding semester of classes and work has permeated nearly all my waking hours, so what used to be an exhilarating training schedule now feels confining - one more thing to fit on the to-do list.
It was a freeing moment, partway through a tempo workout, when I finally admitted to myself, “This is not much fun.” The false cheerfulness I’d been forcing on myself lifted. I gritted my teeth and finished the run.
The realization, interestingly, hasn’t hurt my training at all. If anything, it’s added a little spring to my step. Yes, at the moment, running blows. Boston, however, will not.
I was totally taken by the experience of watching the historic marathon last year, and I want to feel great and run strong when I finally get to participate. It’s worth a few months of meticulous scheduling and pre-dawn solo runs.
Viewed from a wider lens, the fact that I kept plugging away, despite a paucity of running highs this spring, revealed how meaningful running is to me. Even when a particular workout or season is tedious, running remains a rooted and cherished part of me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go knock out some intervals. Ugh.
Sara Knutson is a Shorewood native studying at Boston College. In her previous Off the Couch contributions, Knutson has described her year-long racing fast, and the Heart of Vilas County Bike and Hike Trail.