Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hurt So Good

There are a lot of reasons why people run.  Some of them are obvious mostly because they are shoved down our throats in every single fitness publication ever. 

Better health, weight loss, the fun of doing athletic events even though we're old!  Omg cardio!  So fit!

I have finally learn how to use "Pinta", the MS paint for Linux.
Or some people run because of the sheer efficiency of the exercise is attractive.  I have to admit, that is one reason why I run.  I feel like I can get the same workout running for 30 minutes that I could get doing anything else for maybe an hour.  I like efficient things. 

Like many others, I love to get outside on a beautiful day, see the sun, feel my feet hit the pavement, and feel so alive.  This is a big reason that I run. 

But honestly, that "Magical beautiful day I feel like I'm flying" is a pretty rare experience for me.  Those days are few and far between.  Most days I feel more like an elephant than a bird.  I don't really feel like waking up and getting out the door, and more often than not I just slog through it at a pace that is slower than it should be.  Like my partner in crime, Sarah, I am not a lover of every run.   I'm indifferent at best. 

But there are some things about this sport that really do it for me.  

The first thing I love is in the beginning of a race when I am so pumped up and scared.   The gun goes off, my heart is pounding, and the first mile feels like I am walking, when really it was faster than my 5k pace.  Of course, I've paid for going out this fast and have learned not to do it due to the awful consequences later in the race, but I love this feeling.  

But there's another aspect that's really hard to explain without sounding somewhat psycho.  And I guess it is a little crazy because a lot of people who are runners are a little bit crazy.  (Probably why I get along with them so well.) 

One of the big reasons I run is because of the crazy discomfort of pushing yourself in a workout or race, and the elation I feel right afterwards, and potentially for the rest of the day.   It's crazy uncomfortable but crazy good.

Rounding the last 400 or 800 or mile of a workout or a race, knowing that I put in the groundwork for a successful workout and all I have to do is hold it for just a minute or two longer is the best.   I feel so freaking alive.

Kind of masochistic to love the pain of running, no?   Maybe the oddest part of it, is that I feel proudest of myself when I've run races where I've been barely able (or completely unable) to stand at the finish line.  It's arguable if this is a healthy outlook or a good way to treat your body, but hey, I never ran only for health reasons.  It's the feeling of control of mind over body, or something. 

(And I think it's part of why there's such a prevalence of similar control based issues in the sport as well.  It takes a certain kind of person to be able to ignore a level of pain and thrive off that, but that's another post that will probably never get written..unless I'm feeling hella serious). 

In the past few months, I've felt like I'd lost these things that I love so much about running.  During workouts, I haven't wanted to push through the discomfort and I've lacked the mental toughness to get through the hard moments.  In races (granted I've barely raced, but at CIM), I felt no buzz at the starting line.  I just wanted to get it over with. 

I had a high school coach that said "you gotta wanna".  And I haven't wanted anything.

But the good news, is that I feel like little by little these exciting pieces for me are coming back.  I'm not loving every run, and I have no idea how my half marathon in a month will go, but I'm feeling that excitement again, and that joy in pushing my limits.  Many of your encouraging comments on my discouraged blog posts lately have helped a lot to motivate me and remind me why I do this.  So thanks for that. 

I know there are a lot of reasons why people run, but these are two big ones for me that I don't talk about much.   They might sound a little crazy, but I can't be the only one? 


  1. Honestly, since I started doing a lot of cross-training, I don't think running is the only way to get a good, easy 30min workout. Yes of course you can just maybe step out your door and go, so no driving to the gym and what not, but I think that's cause you live in a place with pretty much year-round good weather (although maybe in LA it's hard to find good running paths?). In very hot or cold places (u remember houston :p) maybe it's not that easy. You have to think about the time of day, bringing water, rain preparation, or cold preparation. I've never done cross-fit but stuff like Insanity and the Les Mills programs, I'm damn sure that I get just as good of a workout in 30mins as running. Plus a 30min good run workout needs to be really really fast imo. If you are say an 8min/mile pace runner, a 30mins for 3 mile workout isn't really a hard workout and probably not worth it, and certainly not better than something else.

    I too love the feeling after a super hard race or run, and I don't get that same feeling after a hard gym workout, but that's usually okay with me. It's not like all my running workouts required me to veg on the sofa for 12hrs after and stuff my face.

    Of course nothing compares to that feeling just at the start and finish line of a race, even a bad race. Maybe that's why some people race a lot, to always have that little extra special feeling.

  2. It's like you're in my head. I "gotta wanna," but I just don't. I had the same goal (BQ) for sooooo long. And then when I met that goal, there was a natural next goal (re-Q, and for me, that was a little tougher because they changed the times slightly). But then I did that and now I'm struggling a lot to shoot for the next goal that I dutifully set. I just feel so unmotivated. I've got to get with the program.

  3. Anything you do too much, even racing, can wear off eventually. I am a better trainer than racer, so when I DO have a good race, that feeling lasts a long time. Right now I am "injured" and I think that is going to help me rediscover my appreciation of long runs (since I can't do them) for when I get back into a training plan.
    The Kidless Kronicles

  4. your drawing skillz are almost as awesome as your photoshop ones. :)

  5. ^^ hahahahahah i totally forgot to comment on this. why is the wall so happy? why do u still run on treadmills margssssss

  6. Yes. I have never run for health reasons. After I quit skating and before I ran I could have exercised for health reason but honestly I really didn't care. I think I did absolutely nothing for like a year. Exercising with no purpose is boring to me. I am still waiting for the race where I can't stand up at the finish :) For agree with having to want it though!

  7. Oh I can totally relate to this. I need to get a little bit of that fire back myself. Hopefully I will and sometime soon would be nice!

  8. I'm with you on the efficiency thing. I don't care how many times I read ellipticalling is virtually the same, I don't buy it. Can't relate on the whole pain thing though, guess I don't wanna :)


    Did I spell that right? Remember when he would start us in the middle of the track?

  10. I 100% relate, when I finished my PR half marathon I was secretly pissed at myself for still feeling decent, yeah my lungs burned, and yes I felt fatigued, but not collapse on the ground not walk fatigue. It made me think, what if I could have pushed harder? I always want to feel that brink especially in track workouts (which are my favorite). I've realized that I now NEED running breaks, or my love for running gets broken. Case in point, since CIM I have run a total of about 11 miles, tomorrow I'm running a trail race of 10 (though I keep telling myself I'm not racing it). In the meantime I do crossfit which keeps my pain/pleasure equilibrium happy. I "blame" my intensity on being a good high school runner and medicore college runner. I hope your intensity returns and you start your half with the fire in your belly.

  11. Yeah, I pretty much love that feeling of pushing so hard that I don't know if I'll make it to the other side and then making it to the other side...just barely. Feeling totally and utterly SPENT. So satisfying. I always was more able to do this rowing than running. I told my coach I was afraid to fall at the end of a running race because the ground is so much harder than the water. He said, 'Yeah, but you can't drown on the ground!" Straightened me out, he did :)

  12. My college friend Peter said "Hurt So Good" was about anal sex.

    Just saying.

    1. Haha. Yeah I knew it was some sexual reference but never looked at the lyrics enough to find out which one. So good to know.

      I debated on the title for a minute and decided to go with it anyways. Whatever does it for John Cougar, I suppose...

  13. I love the illustrations. They convey so much emotion!

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  15. The scenery around our treadmill could be improved ( happy faces, really?). Kidding, but I can totally relate to this post! Thanks for the honesty! M