Wednesday, May 04, 2022

It Just Takes Time

I've been an active runner for a long time. As I explained a few years ago in My Running Habit, I never ran long distances as a kid, but eased into increasingly longer runs as an adult. Now I typically run over 20 miles every week. It keeps me somewhat sane, and even more than somewhat physically fit.

Something I consistently hear from new runners is how they wish they could be enthusiastic about it, but it's just too damned hard. Like, grueling hard. It physically hurts. I remember that feeling. Faced with such negative consequences, what is the incentive to keep pushing ahead, trying to eke out another 100 yards, let alone another mile?

But something many new runners don't appreciate is that it gets a LOT easier. So much so, that when you're well-conditioned, running six miles is as easy as running three, or even one. For some range of relatively low mileage runs, adding a few extra miles only takes a little more time. Thus running becomes an incredible machine that takes time and converts it into well-being, physical fitness, and because it's a consideration for some of us, calorie consumption. As hard as it might be to get started, there's a reason for expressions such as "runner's high" and "second wind." At some point not only does running stop hurting, it becomes actively enjoyable. That's the real prize.

As lucky as I am to be on the other side of the beginner/experienced canyon with running, there are tons of other ambitions I have in life that I either put off completely, or only weakly pursue. Why? Just like running, they're all too damned hard. Any of us who try new things will inevitably face the humbling experience that the effort seems too great and the the result not rewarding enough. So we slam the guitar case shut, put the calculus book back on the shelf, or lose the gumption to join a chess club or take a pottery class.

For all the things you're not good enough at yet that it feels easy, there are undoubtedly other things that you have crossed the chasm with, so to speak. Things that are gruelingly hard for others, but that you find to be no big deal. As you look towards the things that you find harder, try to remember that there was a time when those things were hard for you too. You got better, and you'll get better at something else, too. Maybe running. Or piano, or calculus, or chess, or pottery! It just takes time.

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