An Anti-Love Letter to Running

Two runners stopped to stretch and take the time

I run, so I suppose I’m a runner. But the truth is, I hate running.

Why Do I Do This?

Give it time, I thought. People are always talking about this “runner’s high,” and I figured it was just a matter of time before I would find it.

Nothing is easy the first time you do it, but with a little consistency, keeping one foot in front of the other, the repetitive stride would eventually lead to that flow state, and I would find that inner peace everyone claims running brings. You will lace up just to let go of the day’s stresses and find the meaning of life while pounding the pavement.

But years later, countless miles, easy runs, long runs, speed runs, group runs…even races, I’m still left questioning, why do I do this to myself? I don’t run because I love it, I run because I hate it.

Hands massaging a runner's foot to work out a cramp

So, consider this the opposite of a love letter to running. These are the thoughts that have occupied my mind and facts I’ve gathered about running (and runners), that make it the worst.

In No Particular Order...

  1. One thing to remember about running is, it never gets easier, you just get better. Once you hit a goal that you swore would be the last one, another one pops up. Making the finish line just a little bit out of reach keeps you coming back.
  2. Running can be addictive. The endorphins released during a run can make you feel euphoric, which is why many runners describe running as their "happy place.” Don’t be fooled, just as it can bring euphoric feelings, it can just as quickly make you question everything. That 20 min run sounded so innocent, now you’re questioning who you are?
  3. Most runners swear if they didn’t have a full-time job and could commit all their time to training, they too could be an Olympic Runner. I guess if you run full time, you’re a professional runner?
  4. Running can be a social activity - joining a running club or participating in group runs can help you to meet new people and make friends. But if you’re an introvert, don’t let that scare you. Those extroverts will take anything and make it into a group activity but running is a solo activity, and if that’s how you prefer it, do you. Run how you want.
  5. If you’re a non-runner, always have a safe word when engaging in conversation with a runner. Runners love to talk about running - sometimes to the point where others might find it…annoying? Wait? People don’t care about my pace? My Strava stats? Interesting.
  6. Running friends are a different type of friend. A rare vulnerability happens when you meet a like-minded runner. Initial conversations may start normal, like “what are you training for?” and quickly turn to in-depth discussions about bowel movements. Running is a safe space.
  7. Race day anxiety is real. Seriously, why do I care so much about the local Turkey Trot? What am I trying to prove?
  8. If you’re in a race and someone says, “you’re almost there!” you are certainly not almost there. What do they know? Standing on the sidelines. The closer you are to the end, the harder it becomes.
  9. The runner's high can make you do some strange things - like signing up for a marathon after only running a 5K. Even after making a deal with the powers-that-be mid race that if they let you finish, you will never run again.
  10. No matter how good you think you look in your mind, race photos are a humbling reminder that you are far from looking like a gazelle. It’s truly amazing how they always seem to catch you on the down stride!
  11. Anywhere is a bathroom if you believe it. The “world is your oyster” mentality.
  12. Losing toenails is…cool? Watch tan lines are… cool?
  13. Running can lead to some pretty weird injuries, like chafing, blisters, and black toenails. But don't worry, they say it’s all part of the experience!
  14. Knee pain? Tight hamstrings? ACL that is doing something weird? Check, check, check. Complain about it, of course. But stretch? Forget it. Who has the time?!
  15. After trying quite possibly every shoe on the market, I’m convinced my feet must be incredibly unique. There is no glass-slipper. Somehow every sneaker leaves me with a different type of blister and yes, I’ve even changed sizes. It’s not me; it’s the shoe!
  16. You will always be hungry. Everyone talks about the Freshman 15 but no one talks about the First Marathon 15.
  17. No matter how far you can run, stairs will remain a humbling reminder that you are not as in shape as you think.

Just Keep Running

Runner resting with hands on knees

Yes, running sucks. But then again, maybe I'm just not doing it right? Maybe there's some secret to running that I just haven't figured out yet? Or maybe I'm just not cut out for it. Maybe someday I'll learn to love this stupid activity, or maybe I'll just give up.

Either way, I'll keep running, even if it's just to prove to myself that I really, truly, deep down, just hate running.

About the Author

Crossed feet wearing darn tough running socks

The writer would like to remain anonymous as to keep her reputation in the running community clean.