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“Ask yourself: ‘Can I give more?’. The answer is usually: ‘Yes’.”
-Paul Tergat

I get this question a lot, in various forms: “When will running stop hurting?”

I totally get it. I have very vivid memories of being a new runner, suffering through countless hours of dragging my body slowly down the road and back home again, and thinking, “I hate this.” Very nearly getting out the door before I had to fight the urge to go back home and say “Forget it. Where are the brownies?”

It hurt. Running HURT.

As much as I hate to break it to you, after 4 years of dedicated running, thousands of miles, and truly falling in love with this beast, running still hurts.

But hear me out.

That pain has changed. At first, it was the pain of my overweight, undisciplined body fighting my mental desire to get out and run. But in a matter of weeks, there was less weight to pull against my willpower. More discipline, less fighting. It hurt, but it started to be worth it.

Later, I remember feeling like the front part of me was literally dragging my butt up the hill behind me. That was a unique blend of physical and emotional pain–daggers straight through my prideful heart.

But I also remember the first day I *didn’t* feel like that. It hurt, but there was progress in the pain.

And so I kept going. I remember the first time I realized I was getting faster, truly, markably faster. I was elated. I pushed harder, and so… it hurt. But I wanted it to.

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Me, a few minutes after my first half-marathon. I am on the ground because it… you guessed it… hurt. But IT WAS WORTH THE PAIN.

Running is not great because it’s easy. Running is great in part BECAUSE it hurts. And it may surprise you to know that it hurts even the elite athletes. Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher have both talked about how much of marathoning is basically a lot of pain management. Those incredibly fast, talented athletes hurt because they are pushing toward a goal, pushing themselves and pushing the other people around them.

Could there be a better kind of pain?

Running hurts, because it’s worth it. When it stops hurting, push yourself harder. Be amazed at you can do when you beat back your mental and physical obstacles. Whether you are seeking a personal record in distance or time, going for the win at a race, or just trying to get your health back, it will hurt. And it will be worth it. Give it time, not to hurt less, but to be worth it.

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.”
–Arthur Blank

disclaimer: I am not advising anyone to push through an injury. Duh–I want you to be able to keep running. i am talking about the general challenge of running, not a sharp, insistent pain or injury. Listen to your body. It will let you know the difference between discomfort and true injury.

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