At first, I thought it was me. What do you mean, this isn’t working? “I can change! I’ll try harder,” I thought. I tried to rationalize my behavior, my outlook. I fell into the dangerous trap of comparing myself with others (thanks in part to the internet), thinking: “If she can figure out how to be a runner, so can I!” Eventually, I had to come to terms with a simple, but important fact: Nobody actually likes running. (I also learned another important platitude: Never compare yourself with others. It doesn’t go well for you or them.)
OK, I guess that’s not entirely true. There’s an entire sub-culture of runners. There are books, magazines, stores, and products devoted to the sport, and professional runners like Bart Yasso who spend their lives traveling the globe just to talk about running. So to say nobody likes it may be discrediting the sport a bit. But I’m not convinced even runners like the actual act of running.
Sure, it’s a great form of exercise. On the surface, running requires less skill than many other sports. I’m not saying all you crazy runners are no-talent hacks! Relax! I just mean that compared to, say, biking or swimming, the learning curve is a bit smaller initially. It’s also much cheaper (a pair of shoes is all you really need to get started), and overall, it’s a very efficient way to get your cardio done. But, despite the obvious pros, I still cannot wrap my head around avid runners.
Do you ever have a moment where you realize something that in retrospect, seems kind of obvious, but at the time was completely groundbreaking? Back when I did yoga on the regular, I had one such realization. At the beginning of class, no matter how I was feeling, downward dog was a terrible place to be. I’d be stretching my legs, making adjustments, wiggling my shoulders, but no matter what, it sucked. The first five minutes of every class were spent in discomfort. And then we’d begin our regular routine and I’d forget the pain and inevitably, somewhere later in the class, I’d find myself relieved to be in downward dog. Relieved. It felt good! And it was the same position that had been torture 40 minutes earlier.
When you begin any physical activity, there’s the moment where your body says: “Wait a minute, what are we doing here? Haven’t we been sitting at a desk for eight hours? A couch would be much more comfortable than this.” (Or at least, my body says that. Maybe yours says, “Oh cool, this again! Afterwards, can we pppppllllease have some green juice?” In which case, good for you. Please teach me.) No matter how intense or relaxing, the first few minutes of a workout are usually a bit rough. But then, you spend 45 minutes putting yourself in even less comfortable positions and suddenly you long for a little downward dog. It seems so easy.
So maybe runners are just people who have become accustomed to discomfort to the point of actually believing that discomfort is the new comfort.