Are runners generally happy people? Maybe after their runs. My anecdotal evidence tells me that many of us are self-medicating through running. Recently a friend was talking to another friend asking how she pushes herself so hard in workouts and why she herself couldn’t seem to. The friend’s reply: “you just don’t hate yourself enough”. I totally get it. Usually I need a little bit of self-imposed suffering in order to feel balanced.
This isn’t always the case with me, but mostly it is. There have been times in my life when I’ve felt generally at ease and happy. Usually these times coincide with vacations (coincidence?) which is why I think it’s so hard to keep up training while on vacation. When I’m not feeling anxious or a little unhappy with myself I can go for runs. I really enjoy them. But I don’t run extra hard or extra far. I don’t feel the urge, so I don’t do it. I’m reminded of the line from the Barenaked Ladies song which goes, “she’s like a baby, I’m like a cat. When we are happy we both get fat.”
Some people seem to tolerate pain better than others, and we know that that tolerance can be trained. You can learn to accept pain. But why would you? There is definitely a subset of people who relish the “cleansing” or “absolving” nature of self-flaggelation on the roads, track or hills for purposes other than simply running a fast time in their next race. The race is actually just a socially acceptable way to justify our need for ritualistic masochism.
So the question lies – if you’re a generally happy person who doesn’t hate yourself enough to train hard enough for that next PB, how can you harness this secret power? My running buddies and I had a good laugh about that the other day. Want to run faster? Try bombing a big presentation OR pick a fight with a loved one where you’re clearly in the wrong OR binge out on all your kids Halloween candy when they’re in bed. Whatever will make you feel guilty enough to dig a little deeper on that extra mile repeat the next day. I’m not sure if you can replicate the exact same twisted torment of self-hate that plagues the hardest working runners, but worth a try, right?