If you’re reading this, I am assuming you don’t just flirt with running. My assumption is you’re in some kind of relationship with running. Maybe it’s casual. Maybe not so much.
With a relationship of any substance, things come up. Things get complicated. Things can get tough.
Your (likely) complicated relationship with running has stages. What I have tried to capture below is the good, the bad, the ugly, and amazing. You will encounter all of it during your relationship with running.
If you truly love running and you’re committed to your relationship, the bumps in the road and the inevitable valleys you will be forced to deal with will be worth it.
Pure, unadulterated bliss
Every mile is transcendent. Every run is a thing of beauty. Love blossoms with every stride.
You are head over heels. You are invincible. Running makes you feel alive in a way you never have.
I have been very fortunate to find myself neck deep in this stage many times. It’s magical. It’s amazing.
For a rare few this feeling never fades. They manage to fall in love, stay in love, and ride off into the sunset. But, it doesn’t work that way for most of us.
For most of us, this bliss is a transitory thing. Maybe we feel it for a mile or two. If we’re lucky, this feeling accompanies us for an entire race. If you’re really lucky, this feeling is with you most of the time.
But, your relationship with running can’t be blissful all the time. It’s impossible. You log enough miles and you will uncover something you don’t like. You may uncover something that hurts you.
If and when you find yourself loving every stride, savor it. There’s no guarantee it will last. But, even if bliss dissipates, it can return.
The bloom comes off the rose
One day you show up and something is off. Something doesn’t feel quite right. The runner’s high doesn’t materialize.
Your run sucks. Running sucks. The magic is inexplicably gone.
You could be in this stage for a variety of reasons. Maybe you overtrained. Love makes you do crazy things and it’s easy to overdose on something you love.
Maybe you’re injured. Few things make you question your relationship like being hurt by the very thing you love. Injuries take time to heal. Some injuries never fully heal.
For whatever reason, running is not as fun as it once was. But, it’s not terribly realistic to think running is always going to be a magical, cosmic experience. The stars simply don’t align all the time.
Maintaining a relationship with running requires work. Even if you love running dearly, it’s still work. It can be very hard work at times.
But, if it’s work that you love, the magic can return. You may have to try something different. You may have to venture out of your comfort zone to find the magic again.
The scary, uncertain part
The love is still there, but it’s not the same. You want the magic back. But, how to get it back is unclear.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the question of ‘what to do?’ There are no easy answers. Just try something different.
Maybe you run less. Maybe you run more. Maybe you explore a path you never explored before. You may have to try a multitude of things you haven’t done before.
I’ve found myself most frequently in this stage while trying to come back from an injury. There is always anxiety and fear when trying to get back to running after a lengthy setback.
This stage can be scary. It could be uncomfortable. But, finding the magic again may require venturing into the uncomfortable territory of the unknown.
If the relationship is worth it, you can likely find a way through the discomfort. That magical feeling running used to give you is likely waiting on the other side.
Better. Faster. Stronger.
You weathered the storms. Whether it was boredom, injury, or something else that derailed your relationship with running, you fought through it. Inevitably, you are better as a result.
Maybe you discovered a new way to train. Maybe physical therapy finally helped you get over that nagging injury. Maybe you simply took a break.
It’s never fun to not know how to proceed (or if you should proceed). Dealing with this scary, uncertain stage can be challenging. It’s hard to have faith that things will get better.
But, whatever you did, it’s likely your relationship with running is now stronger. You’ve likely learned some things about yourself and running that you never knew. The wisdom you’ve gleaned can only help your relationship.
Ultimately, your relationship with running is better. I’m not necessarily saying it’s magical and blissful all the time. But, more often than not, the love is there and in many ways it’s better than it was before.
This is the stage no one wants to talk about. Breakups are uncomfortable. They’re painful.
But, if you’ve tried everything and the love for running STILL isn’t there, it might be time to end it. There’s little sense in forcing things. Ending your relationship with running might be the answer.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for a breakup with running. As someone who’s been running and coaching for more than two decades, I’m an eternal optimist. There’s almost always a way to fix things.
If you’re battling some kind of nasty injury that just won’t go away, keep searching for other ways to treat it. It’s likely there’s something out there that will help. But, I could be wrong.
Even if you do elect to end things with running, it doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. It’s entirely possible you could get back together again down the road. Time has a tendency to heal most wounds. Things can change.
No stage is forever
Whatever stage you’re in with your relationship with running, it’s important to recognize it’s likely transitory. Very few of these stages are permanent, including the end.
If your relationship with running is all sunshine and rainbows, savor every mile of it! There’s no guarantee it will last.
If your relationship is in a scary, uncertain stage, do your best to stay positive. Do your best to keep exploring things that might get you out of the scary, uncertain stage. Something (or multiple things) likely will work.
If your relationship with running is challenging due to injury or some other issue, try not to give up. Follow the direction of your doctor. Do your physical therapy. Almost every injury can be overcome.
Running makes you smarter, makes you healthier, slows the aging process, and fundamentally makes you a better person. You’d be crazy to not try to make this relationship work.
Want to hear more from Marathon Matt? Find out more about his coaching and running experience at www.marathonmatt.com!