By Gary Dudney

My book The Tao of Running: Your Journey to Mindful and Passionate Running could just as easily have been entitled How to Embrace the Suck or Embracing the Suck because one way or the other learning how to “embrace the suck” is part of every chapter in the book. Now why is that?

Running has a mysterious way of getting under your skin. You set out on a little jog looking to get some exercise and the next thing you know you’re a committed, even a fanatical runner. But what is not mysterious about running, is that eventually it is going to suck. Train hard at all, try lowering your PR (personal record) for the 10K, or take on those last six excruciating, devastating, soul-crushing miles of a marathon, and you’ll know what I mean. So which is it? Is running this wonderful thing that you are drawn to like a duck to water or is it luring you into “it sucks to be you” territory.

Both…and that is a good thing. Running does feel natural and invigorating. You feel your body adapting, getting stronger. But inevitably as you run faster and farther and push yourself harder, you will get to a bad place. You will feel awful, and suddenly you will find yourself in a crisis of character. How will you respond? Will you slack off and quit or will you find a way to take on the challenge, embrace the suck, and triumph over the adversity? Running gives you that opportunity over and over again. But isn’t that the most rewarding thing about life, when you have to overcome adversity, when you have to face down the hard things and win through?

No wonder so much of The Tao of Running is about how best to embrace the suck. When it comes to getting the most out of your running, that’s really the whole point!


About Gary Dudney

Long time columnist for Ultrarunning magazine, Gary Dudney is thrilled to share his hard-won understanding of the mind of the runner from being “out there” himself during 40 years of running. He’s written advice pieces and adventure stories for all the major running magazines. He’s completed over 200 marathons and ultramarathons, including fifty 100 mile races.  

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