The problem with running is really quite simple, the mind wants to give in before the body.

My run today perfectly illustrates that problem.  It also is a good example of why many people give up on running so quickly.  After a good five minute walk and ten minutes into my run my shins hurt, my legs hurt, and my mind was saying over and over “Just throw this run in the trash, walk home. You can run tomorrow.  You can’t complete this run.”

I had to spend about five minutes repeating over and over in my mind, “I can do this, I can finish this run.”  After five minutes my runner’s high kicked in and the pain in my legs went, the pain in my shins was gone, and my mind was a perfect blank slate. But to get there I had to run through 10 miserable minutes, and 5 more horribly miserable minutes.

While this is perhaps the worst part about running, it is also perhaps the best part of running.  And as someone who has run off and on for the last decade I think it can be reduced to this simple rule: It only takes one good run.  What does this mean?  If you can push through the first 10 or 15 minutes of your run, as agonizing* is it might be, there is a wonderful feeling on the other side. After you feel it once, you will be aching for your next run.  [The preceding only applies to running on the road, treadmills are an entirely different story].

Oh, I almost forgot.  Stats.

My pace was a bit slower than usually, but much of that is because I took perhaps the hilliest route I’ve ever run.  Too see the varying elevations click on the picture above.  I came in just shy of 4 miles (missing the mark by .09)- and believe me I am kicking myself in the butt for not running the extra .09.  I am quite content with the 524 calories burned and can’t wait to see my BMI break in the 25s.

[*Note:  If your agony comes from chest pain please do stop your run and consult a doctor].

  1. Bwan Muffin says:

    [*Note: If your agony comes from chest pain please do stop your run and consult a doctor].

    I have chest pain just thinking about running. What does that mean?? 😉

  2. Ashley says:

    hahaha… I second bwan… Lol
    Yay running 🙂

  3. I think you are faking it.

  4. Sagan says:

    Thanks for addressing this issue! Thats always been my problem with running. I KNOW that my legs can keep going for waaaay longer, but my mind just says “come on, you’re bored, just stop already”.

    I think thats why I’m so much better at exercising when I’m frustrated or angry about something. My mind isn’t really on the exercising, so I can go for a lot longer because my body is simply capable of so much more than my mind is willing to grasp!

  5. Amen. That is one of the reasons that some of my best runs took place while I was studying for exams, working through difficult problems, etc. Your mind doesn’t have the time to worry about trivial things like, “my shins kind hurt” and your body gets to work while your mind is too distracted to dwell on the negative.

  6. Julianne says:

    i have thoughts like this ALL the time!! i keep thinking, you can always run the rest of it tomorrow. but i know things always come up for preventing me from delivering! good job on finishing your run, though. btw, where do you get that handy dandy map and elevation chart??

  7. “where do you get that handy dandy map and elevation chart??”

    Both are free over on

    If you register you can use the site to track your runs, routes, calories burned, etc. The interface will take about 20 minutes to learn, but it is worth it.

  8. Julianne says:

    Oh it’s from I’ve used it before. No idea they had the elevation chart thingie! Awesome. Thank you!!

  9. Laura says:

    I find the first few miles always the hardest – once I settle into running, I feel like I can go forever (at least until mile 21 or 22 when fatigue hits).

  10. aron says:

    it always takes me a few miles to get warmed up too! but once you get there is the best feeling ever… and i TOTALLY agree on the t-mill… get me off that thing!

    thanks for stopping by 🙂 christmas (for me) will be here soon!!!

  11. AndrewE says:

    Heh…I love the first 15 minutes of my runs. The problem is normally minutes 15-25. I find if I can power through thoses then I can go as long as I like really.

    Definitely a mental game.

  12. If you take an advil before you stretch it should kick in by the time you run- no pain! also, i see you go down a lot of deadends (right?) if theres a big 5 mile loop you could do, there’s no backing out and you have to finish.

  13. Nope, no loops here unfortunately.

  14. Fitzalan says:

    Isn’t it amazing how the worst workout ever leads to the greatest feeling of accomplishments?? I guess the thought that you won’t see results without working hard is true.

  15. Angel says:

    I just finished mine…whew! 🙂

  16. FatFighter says:

    Yes, the mind is an amazing tool, isn’t it? I’m not a runner, but when it comes to workouts in general I find that telling yourself you’ll just work out for x amount of time is the first step – once you get going, you go longer than you told yourself.

  17. Mark Salinas says:

    I am going to start my marathon training a week from Monday….2 months later then suggested! Great job with your running….very impressive!

  18. Jessica says:

    When I was coming back from injury a few months ago, I began to wonder how new runners ever get started. It’s so painful to get back into shape. You are so right though–it just takes that one special run to show you how wonderful it can be. Keep it up!

  19. Place me on a beautiful tree path and I can run forever. Place me on the pavement besides traffic and I’ll give up after 10 minutes. The secret is location:-)

  20. […] – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by samreckoner on 2008-08-20 My Run: It Only Takes One Good Run – […]

  21. Wow, that is really neat. My wife is a marathon runner (which, by the way, I find to be insane…a 20 mile training run?!?! Insanity!! Then again, I don’t blink at swimming 8000 yards in a single workout).

    I love the comment about running on a tree path vs. running on asphalt next to traffic. I couldn’t agree more! I hate running around traffic. I like serenity when I run. Hard to find these days.

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