Running Life

I Asked Runners To Name Their ‘Biggest Challenges’ And The Answers Were Eye-Opening

biggest challenges for runners

Even though Chris and I have a good 20 years between us, we actually have two core principles in common; run hard and write to escape.

While I may be a better runner, Chris definitely has way more writing experience with his five- yes, five published books.

I have to admit that my writing skills are a little rusty, but I’m slowly getting my “legs” back under me.

I posted an Instagram story asking those to tell me some of their biggest challenges with starting up running or the obstacles that commonly affect avid runners.

I was surprised by the number of responses that involved physical barriers and how few responses involved mental barriers.

When I think back to my 15-year-old self, who so desperately wanted to be a great runner, I think of everything that held me back from achieving greatness early on.

To be totally transparent, I’ve struggled with my body image and eating disorders for a large chunk of my running “career.”  Needless to say, all of my cages were mental when it came to training.

I realize that my running experience was heavily influenced by my genetics and social and psychological factors throughout my life.

One of the more fascinating responses came from my friend Anna who wrote:

“(The most frustrating thing is) the role genetics plays. The simple fact that you will never be able to run at a certain level.”

I never considered this an actual factor, but the more I sat with this possibility, the more it resonated.

Either you’re born with it or have to accept that your best is good, but not quite good enough.

Is being elite tangible for everyone? Or only for those who are of Hermes’ lineage?

I can’t help but wonder what this factor is and why it is so rare for us to obtain that fitness level.

How do we know that we have reached our peak of greatness? And is that something we can keep taping into, or can we only hold on for so long before it vanishes for good?

Do runners truly do everything they can to optimize their performance?

Do runners get proper rest, eat enough, eat enough of the right foods, push in workouts, or stay comfortable?

Are runners doing too much and risking burnout or merely moseying through and cutting ourselves short?

Back to the IG poll. The weekend warriors all had one common variable – breathing. Maybe I should say their lack of breathing.

This seemed to be the number one obstacle.

Spring hits all of us like a sack of pollen to the face regardless of our skill level, but as the warmer months of summer creep in with outrageous temps and unbearable humidity, it’s enough to make the best of runners feel out of shape.

The only advice I can give is to plug in those headphones, blast your music or our podcast, and tune out any slight indication that you’re on the verge of collapsing.

Aside from the weather, staying motivated this past year truly has been harder than ever.  With most races being canceled, parks being closed, and refraining from running with large groups of people, the morale is low.

With so many of us working from home and dealing with children being home all day, it was nearly impossible to find the time to run.

I’m not a parent, but I can only imagine how insanely hard making the time to run would be, to begin with, but throwing all these obstacles together makes it seem incredibly daunting.

I have realized that all of our hurdles look very different, but we are all a part of the same race.

Ultimately we want to get faster, stronger, and extend our running career for as long as possible. I’m hopeful that once COVID is in our rearview mirror in the next few months will reignite the running flames.

Hopefully, we can get back to the typical obstacles running has to offer us with sore legs, blood blisters, missing toenails, glorious chafing, and struggling to dodge hilly routes.

Again, all physical barriers, but if you stop to ask yourself what your true motives are for running, I doubt they have much to do with feeling the pain and everything to do with the rewards of pushing past the discomfort.

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