Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's Supposed to Hurt

“It is always by way of pain that one arrives at pleasure.” - the Marquis De Sade

What better way to describe long distance running? The reason we push ourselves. The justification for engaging in the sport in the first place. No, not to intentionally get hurt running. That’s an unfortunate side effect most likely to occur when you’re over reaching a goal, or not running smart. But to find the point when running begins to hurt, and how you handle that pain.

I’m not speaking of the general discomfort most people would associate with running for exercise, or even for health or fitness. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, but I’ve never known an “exerciser” to run more than a few miles. A 5k or 10k at best. I’m talking about a half marathon minimum, or of course a full 26.2 miles. Something happens out there. You’re testing yourself. Your limits. Your spirit. And the reward is proportional to the sacrifice.

It’s supposed to hurt. It’s a marathon. The intent is to get you to run further than your body will want to run. How you engage in the physiological war that your body wages is entirely up to you. You can always stop. Take walk breaks. Or even drop out all together. But for those who choose to stay and fight, subjecting themselves to the pain, pushing through every mile, and eventually every step, the accomplishment of completing the race is all yours. The feeling of making a commitment to yourself and keeping it. Honoring yourself.

So enjoy your pain. Define your limits. What better why to get acquainted with your true character?

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