Running — as exercise, I mean, not as in “running for office” — is different from other activities.
Most human undertakings follow a familiar trajectory. At the beginning of the project, you’re full of enthusiasm, and the task is fun (even if it’s also hard work). The same thing happens at the end of the project: you’re enthusiastic because the goal is within sight, and the work is enjoyable.
But the middle segment is tough. The project isn’t new anymore: it’s familiar and boring. And the goal seems far off — too far off to provide much immediate encouragement. So the middle segment of any project tends to be a hard slog.
Not so with running! The beginning can be tough, at least for some of us. The body resists; the psyche resists. It requires self-discipline to get into your running apparel and out the door.
After four or five minutes, I find that my body warms up, my muscles get limber, and I fall into a comfortable rhythm. At that point, I feel like I can run indefinitely. It is almost effortless; I begin to enjoy myself.
But then, toward the end of a typical run, fatigue sets in. It takes an effort to add another stride, and another, and another. The end of the run is near, and that’s the only thing that keeps me going. But fun? Not usually — not for me, it isn’t.
Thus running reverses the usual pattern. Instead of easy/hard/easy, the pattern is hard/easy/hard.
But not this morning, I must admit. I woke up with a headache and a knotted muscle in my back. I went running anyway (Yay, me!) but after five minutes I knew it wasn’t going to get any easier. It was going to be a hard slog all the way through.
Some days are like that. On those days, running isn’t different. It’s just like any other human endeavor: there is no success without sustained, dogged effort.