The other day I was driving around, doing some errands, and made an observation that led to the title of this post… I noticed that so many runners just look miserable when they’re running. So I asked myself, “Why?”

Is it because running is hard? It can be. Are they suffering? Maybe. Does it hurt to run? Sometimes. Is it that unenjoyable? Could be. I guess I don’t really know. However, I think the more important question is…

Why are people putting themselves through this experience?

In my experience it is because people think it’s going to get them in shape or help them lose weight. Can it work for some people? Yes. Does it work for most people? No. And if it doesn’t work for most people, why are people putting themselves through an experience that they don’t like?

Running can be nice exercise. Running and jogging should be fun and enjoyable. Running can be a great way to get outside, get some fresh air and relieve stress. Running should not be miserable. If you don’t enjoy running- DON’T RUN. If running hurts- DON’T RUN. If you get injured before, during or after you run- DON’T RUN. If you suffer when you run- DON’T RUN. If you’re hanging onto a treadmill trying to get your miles in- DON’T RUN.

Take a step back and think about the body. Running is a form of stress. Stress leads to breakdown. Stress leads to inflammation. Stress leads to illness. Stress leads to weight gain. A little stress is good and will make the body stronger if the stress is appropriate. Constant stress, particularly on an already stressed body, is not. Some light, enjoyable running is probably fine. Running a few miles for leisure is good. Long, miserable running is not. Short, intense running can also be good. Run some sprints or a mile for time. Good. Run 5 miles for time, now you may be pushing it. Run 10 miles for time over and over, only a select few can pull this off without detriment.

All of this is also predicated on decent running form, which is a rarity. People with bad gait, even if they love to run, who run 3-5 times a week are probably asking for trouble. Thousands of repetitions on a shaky platform is a cumulative disaster. Show me a running group that doesn’t have as many knee wraps as people in it and I’ll show you a running group in the minority.

Running is a remarkable and tremendously useful ability developed, honed, managed smartly and passed down to us from our ancestors. Let’s keep it on the pedestal it belongs. Keep it appropriate, keep it fun, and keep it outside. Don’t make it miserable.

The Bare 5 Bottom Line on Running

1. Use your body as your guide. It will tell you when you are running inappropriately.

2. If running is boring or miserable, find a way to make it fun or find something else to do.

3. If running hurts your body, find a way to run better or find something else to do.

4. If you are running mostly inside on a treadmill, get outside or find something else to do.

5. If you enjoy running, you don’t get hurt and you get outside while doing it, keep running.

Thanks for reading, have a great running (or not running) week!