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 One of the things that makes the act of running so satisfying to so many people is one of the most obvious.  That thing is that running is work.  Now running is of course more than just work.  It is other things as well- and the act feels differently at different times.  At the end of the day however, running is solid and sometimes hard work.  This really is one of the great things about it.

I sometimes forget the work aspect of running because I have been in and around it my whole life- most often as one who is doing the activity.  That long acquaintance (as with most things) can make you first take for granted the basics, and then sometimes even forget them.  This is often voiced in the expression, “does a fish even know it is swimming in water?”  And when it comes to running the water a runner swims in is work.  

Doing consistent real work gives a person a sense of accomplishment.  It can make a person feel good, proud, and right.  There have been times in my own life when the only work I felt good about was my running.  And that is one of the great values that running has given to me.  Just knowing that I have some positive work to do spills over into other areas of life.  And it does so in multiple ways.

One of the ways that the work of running spills over is knowing that I can do a hard thing.  If I can do a hard run then maybe I can do something else in life that is hard. The first time I ran two miles it occurred to me that I might be able to do other things in life that I had thought improbable at best.  Afterwards I wrote my second short story.  The first time I ran a marathon it occurred to me that I actually might survive the painful breakup that I had just went through.  The first time I ran up and down a mountain I realized that maybe I could learn to meditate.  All in all just knowing that I could do something that was hard work for running opened my mind to the possibilities that I had more in me than I had previously imagined.

One of the other ways that the work of running has spilled over into other areas of life and thinking is in recognizing the reality of how a thing works.  In running if I do too much too soon I will likely fail and quite probably injure myself.  As it turns out in the rest of my life if I take on more work than I currently have capacity for I will also quite likely have consequences that will not be pleasant- even if they have nothing to do with my physical body.  Also, in the work of running you have to recover.  If you do not you will likely find yourself in the position just referenced.  So in running I now make a point of doing mobility work and I know that both the quality and quantity of my sleep are essential for me to recover from the efforts I do while running.  Likewise I have realized that if I do not take breaks and say no to things (whether at work or my social life) I will burn out.  Basically, in running and in life, work requires rest and balance.

I tell new runners that getting into running will be hard.  It will be work.  But rather than that being a problem I have to say it is instead one of the reasons you should consider doing it.  Running is of course a lot more than work and it does not always even feel hard- but the work aspect of running is essential and I don’t want any of us to forget it.  You really can do the work and it really will (most of the time) feel worth it.  The work of running is one of the best reasons any of us should run at all.

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