Is Running Supposed to Hurt? Yes it Is

The Guardian has a good article this week on seven distance running tips. All of the tips are important and helpful for all runners. However, one tip that stands out is the common question: is running supposed to hurt?

You may be saying to yourself, “Running is not supposed to hurt. It is important to take days often when I have pain.” Of course you should take days off from running if you have acute pain (i.e. achilles tendinitis, hamstring pain, etc.). With that said, there is a difference between acute pain and the “hurt” of fatigue.

Hurt Experienced by a Beginning Runner

When beginning runners are first attempting to run, making it as far as one mile can be unbearable. The person’s breathing is labored, muscles are sore, and the road to competent running seems like an impossible challenge. These runners often ask a simple question: is running supposed to hurt like this? The answer is YES – especially for beginning runners. But by sticking with your schedule and carefully building your muscles and cardiovascular system, running will start hurting a lot less. The body has an amazing ability to adapt and what may seem impossible now will be easily doable in the future.

Hurt of the Experienced Runner

After a runner has a solid mileage base, a 4-6 mile run at a steady pace is not very hard. Sure you’ll feel better some days than others, but many runners enter into a comfort zone after a few months of training. However, in order to truly realize your potential and run faster times, you have to get out of the comfort zone and make running hurt. Incorporating fartleks, tempo runs, and hill workouts into your training program will cause sore muscles, episodes of oxygen debt, fatigue, and a concern about whether running is supposed to hurt. But, as stated, pushing your body outside of its comfort zone is the only way to truly become a faster runner.

Therefore, do not give up if running feels hard for you right now – the only way to truly get better is to make it hurt.

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