At some point during a training cycle, a runner is inevitably asked the question, "You ran 10 miles on a Saturday morning for fun?" The question is obvious and simple. The answer may be not as simple. Is running really that fun?
Yes, if your idea of fun is setting your alarm clock at the crack of dawn to beat the Summer sun. It may sound ridiculous, but if you've ever finished a long run, you know that running, sometimes, is the greatest fun you've had when alone.
- If you like spending hours of alone time with nothing but your favorite podcast, an audiobook, or a killer playlist, then yes, running is fun. Whatever's weighing on your mind can be resolved with just an hour or two of alone time with your endorphins. Worried about a looming project at work or a difficult relationship? At some point during the course of your long run, the answer reveals itself. Always. Even if the answer is that you're too tired to spend any more effort worrying about the problem.
- If you like quality sleep, running is fun. Yes, runners set their alarm clocks on Saturday mornings to avoid whatever weather is coming in the afternoon, but those precious hours that they spend in bed are pure bliss. Their bodies and minds are better at soaking up quality shut-eye, and they know they need to prioritize getting seven to nine hours of sleep because their bodies need that time to repair whatever damage they've done to it in the predawn hours.
- If you love the chemical burst of endorphins hitting your blood stream, then yes, running is fun. Endorphins are better than any prescription antidepressant. If a runner is being honest, she'll probably admit that the first three miles of a long run aren't much fun. Getting acclimated to the route, getting your feet underneath you, and setting your pace can be challenging first thing in the morning. But once those endorphons kick in? That's why problems are easier to solve and running in the rain doesn't seem to be a big deal. When the endorphins hit, you feel unstoppable. That's fun.
- If you like eating half a pizza on a Saturday night, then yes, running is fun. Runners know that they can't afford to eat whatever they want most of the time. In fact, most of the time, their diets are pretty restrictive and a complex combination of what the experts say they should eat and what they know works best for their bodies. They know they can't overdo it on grease, fiber, or vegetables the night before their long run, but the night after the long run is pure freedom. If they've properly fueled all week long, then they can engage in one perfectly delicious post-long-run cheat dinner and still breathe easy when they look at their calories-in-to-calories-out ratio for the day.
- If you're into social media self-promotion, then running is great fun. Uploading after-run (or during-run, if that's your thing) selfies to Instagram complete with your mileage and pace for the day is shameless self-promotion, but it's hard earned and worth the "likes" that will start to flood your feed. Crossing a finish line and celebrating with your friends and family is the ultimate reward for the miles that you logged while everyone else was asleep. At some point during the training cycle, you actually even start to feel some sympathy for the nonrunners when you notice how many people tell you they wish they could run that far. That's fun.
So, is running fun? Maybe it's not fun when you're hunkered over your bathroom sink popping a blister or watching the clock come to a complete stop when you're sitting in your post-long-run ice bath. Maybe it's not fun when you order lean protein and whole-wheat bread while your friends load up on happy-hour treats the night before your long run. Or when the alarm clock goes off on a dark, Summer morning before dawn. But all things considered, running can be the most fun part of your life.