Do runners hate running?

According to a news story earlier this week, Strava — the activity tracking app — did a survey that found that most only 8 percent of runners using their app say they love running:

Strava, which tracks the sports activity trends of some 50 million people in almost 200 countries, surveyed 25,000 runners and found that half of them say they either hate it or barely tolerate it, while only 8 per cent love it.

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andrew-dinh-hYTzyMok_a4-unsplashThis prompted a debate in our blogger group.  Nicole and I (both runners) expressed disbelief, noting that we both feel so much joy from running, and why do it if you hate it?  Nicole noted that maybe the survey captured newish runners who are still experiencing a lot of discomfort and hadn’t discovered their groove yet.  I acknowledged that I often find running a slog but the moments of transcendence and overall wellbeing make any discomfort or undo effort worthwhile.

Susan said the survey fits her profile — she runs because it’s good for her but she finds it unpleasant.  (Well, she actually said something much more eloquent:  I think I run to prove I can. Maybe it’s a primal “I could maybe get away from a predator” or “I could keep up with the pack”. I run so I can enjoy biking more. I run because it’s good for my heart (the physical heart). I get very little joy out of the act of running. It’s hard and I’m prone to injury because I’m not balanced in very fundamental ways in my body. These are not things that can be fixed only managed. So, while I do not run to punish myself and I do get pleasure after I have managed a run, I don’t like it and you can’t say I should!)

And Sam and Tracy (who also love running, though Sam is sidelined from it by her knees), said the survey fit their understanding — that a lot of people exercise for reasons other than enjoyment, including body image and “weight management,” and running gives people the most efficient workout.

What about you — do you run?  do you do it with gritted teeth because it’s good for you?  do you love it?  How would you answer the questions: Why do you run?  How do you feel about it?



Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who still thinks of herself as a “runner” despite low mileage, no plans to race and no consistent schedule.  Here she is dancing to Shakira while at a light during a run earlier this month.

7 thoughts on “Do runners hate running?

  1. Some days it takes some effort to get out there, but I’m virtually always glad I went. The only days I’m not is because I’ve overdone things and I’m just too tired or too injured and shouldn’t be out there in the first place. Running is an ongoing love affair, for me!

  2. I read the Strava results this morning. I also participated in the survey. I’m currently in the “I hate running category”. I’m heavier and less fit than I’d like to be, and running is HARD. I’m also not kind to myself about where I’m at right now – a lot of negative self talk about how I used to be faster etc.

    I want to love running. Even more than that, I want to feel proficient at it, but I never stay consistent with it long enough to see the big rewards.

    I’ve never loved running, but I like moving fast(ish) on my own two feet and I LOVE how I feel after a run. It’s a complicated relationship for sure. :/

  3. Lauri — it really IS a complicated relationship — I wish you kindness to yourself. I have a lot of the same “I used to be so fast, look at me plod along now” internal self-talk. I send you hope for reminding yourself that you are out there running because you love your body. And maybe more joy will follow 😉 hugs.

  4. I have to confess it took me years to start loving running. The reason I stuck with it was that I loved the concept – being outside, exercising, pushing my limits – but I hated actually doing it. I found it hard and exhausting and all I could think about while running was how much I was suffering. I don’t know what made the switch flip, but it did – and now I genuinely do love running! Not that I don’t have crappy runs, but most of the time it’s great. I think it might be just sticking with it and it gradually got less difficult?

  5. I love running. But I don’t use Strava. I don’t need to know if I have the FKT between my house and the Dairy Queen. There’s one more data point for you. 🙂

    A little more seriously, perhaps – I get that some people struggle with running, but they carry on because they appreciate the benefits. I applaud them all, and I hope that as stated in the comment above, perhaps one day the ‘switch will flip’ and they will enjoy the run. It took me a few years to go from “oh, man I have to go run” to “I can’t wait to go for a run” and now I’m an incurable ultramarathoner. Life is funny.

  6. No, I don’t run. Never say never.
    I have lived very close to major MUPs that are over 50 km, more like 100 km. long. I bike instead. If I need to build up cardio, etc. maybe I will. But it just looks hard and unpleasant. I also like to go far and explore.

    But then I’ve been biking for almost last 30 yrs. I don’t have a car. So…

  7. When I start running (for the first time/after a long break/after an injury), running is hard and not fun. I run at this point for the “afterwards”: I will feel better in general, stretching out warm muscles feels good, I feel like I have accomplished something today. Then, after (weeks, sometimes months) “running is hard” changes to “effortless running” where my feet are running but my body is dancing. Not every run is effortless, but enough are that I start to equate running with fun again. Then the weather changes/I hurt something/my schedule changes and we’re back to running is hard again. But I remember the effortless run and keep trying to get back to it.

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