Run For the Joy Of It, Even When You Hate It

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Whether you love to run, or you only do it for the health benefits, there may be times that you feel like you truly hate it:

  • When it’s an obligation and your day is maxed out

  • When you’re tired or sore

  • When you feel slow or that you’re slowing down rather than getting faster

  • When you bonk at an event

  • When you get injured

The other side of the coin is the great, wonderful joy that running can be and, the important lessons that are gleaned from the trials and tribulations of learning to master your body and your energy. Let’s take a look at some of the scenarios when running can feel like more trouble than it’s worth, and turn those negative connotations around. Finding the positive in difficult situations is the first step to creating more consistent joy in your life and your running.

Running as obligation

Running can become just another thing on a long to-do list. Do you guilt trip yourself into exercising and feel badly about yourself when you don’t? That attaches some pretty negative feelings to running.

Turn it around:

It’s time to prioritize why you run and how important exercise in your life. I heard a meditation teacher say: “I meditate for one hour every morning, but when life gets really busy and hectic…I meditate for 2 hours.” Same is true for exercise. The busier you are, the more important it is to move your body, get out in the fresh air and clear your head. Take some time to really look at what is most important, and remember that a good workout will keep you healthy and help you remain calm, centered and focused; exactly what you need when you’re busy.

I’m tired and achy

Sometimes you get up early to run, or plan a run for after work, and just feel too tired. Maybe you’re even achy from a previous workout.

Turn it around:

When you are tired or sore, it’s not always easy to tell exactly what you need, so…experiment. Mentally plan for a very easy, light run, just to loosen up and “test” your energy. Do your Body Looseners at a very slow pace to warm up and see how your body responds. Spend lots of time Body Sensing as you begin to run. Stay in 1st gear for a long time. Danny likes to warm up for several miles, even on a short run! Chi Walk-Run and mix up your running with some ChiWalking®.

Most likely you do need to get moving. It can help get your chi flowing and revitalize sore muscles better than anything.  And,  maybe you do need a day off from running. Maybe a walk or yoga class is what is called for, or a hot bath and a good night’s sleep.


I’m slow and slowing down

If you’re a slow runner, or if you’re getting slower, you can easily compare yourself, negatively, to other runners. You might hear the voice in your head, “I’m just not a runner,” or “Running is not for people my age.” Why feel bad about your abilities when you’re doing something good for yourself, like running?

Turn it around:

Getting the joy and benefit of running does not require speed, but it’s true, if you are good at something, it is more enjoyable. Know that good technique will make your running easier and help you get a little faster without more effort. So, work on your technique. You can also add one speed workout a week. ChiRunning® speed workouts are very different. You are not going to push and force yourself in any way. Chi speed intervals are all about learning to maintain good posture, letting gravity assist you, and relaxing everything but your core muscles.

The other turnaround is to give up on the notion of speed. Walk-run, take breaks, go slow and just enjoy being out and moving. Speed can be way overrated.


Bonking at an event

You pull out of your half marathon at mile ten, with nothing left in you, or your plans for getting a PR at the 10K go in the opposite direction…it’s the slowest 10K of your life. Working towards an event and having it fall apart can be a huge let down and sabotage the most dedicated runners.

Turn it around:

Make sure you’re not injured. If you are, see the next section.

Rebuild your confidence with gentle, consistent movement: a short easy run with a friend, a bike ride, playing 4 square with the kids.

Review your training and the event to pinpoint where it began to unravel.  Over training,   incorrect fueling, under training – all are possible catalysts for a difficult event. If you can’t figure it out, get some help. You’ve uncovered a weak spot in your training, which, once improved, could mean success the next time you go out.

Don’t give up!! A difficult event happens to everyone. You might feel defeated but humility is an important teacher.  Take on the challenge and the goal of learning from your mistakes.  


I got injured

Running is a high injury sport. Getting an injury is probably the greatest of all frustrations and the reason some people fear running.

Turn it around:

Take care of the injury. Ice, rest, and gentle, fluid movement are all important. But the real turn-around is not getting injured again. Know that future injuries don’t have to be inevitable. The absolute best way to reduce the potential for injury is to focus, learn, and practice good technique. Nothing is more important than technique. If your technique is good, AND, you become very attuned to your body, you’ll hear the quiet whispers of potential injury way before they happen.


Running isn’t always easy, but many things in life that give us joy do require a little effort.  Listening to what your body needs, making good technique a priority, and not being too hard on yourself will keep running from feeling like a chore. Approach running as an activity that has the potential to create joy for you, and it will. 

Posted in Lifestyle

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