Runner’s Guilt

There’s the runner’s high, and then there’s the runner’s guilt.

The high is pretty self-explanatory. Elation has you feeling on top of the world, as if you could run forever, despite tired and sore legs.

Then there’s the runner’s guilt, which, similar to Catholic guilt you may have had pangs of before, is that deep-rooted feeling of disappointment within yourself. The feeling you get when you could’ve pushed yourself a little further, you could’ve left a little less in the tank at the finish line, or, you could’ve minimally crossed any line whether it be the stating or ending one.

The last thing I wanted to do was run the four mile race I had signed up for this past Saturday. It was cold, windy, and rainy, and I had gone out the night before with friends. I was tired and just wanted to be lazy and sleep in.

So, that’s what I did – I slept in. The runner’s guilt hit me quickly and I debated dragging myself to the race, a mere 7 miles away.

But, my heart wasn’t in it. I couldn’t be mindfully present. Because of that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself. That’s a problem. I never want running to feel like a chore. I want every run to feel like the first time I excitedly laced up a pair of running shoes.

I was looking forward to it though – not necessarily to run, but to see my friend, Joe. You might have read about him here and here. And in case you haven’t, let me tell you a little something about this friend of mine. He’s resilient. He’s a runner. He’s battling cancer. Oh yeah, and he’s 81 and I have never met anyone like him. So, if I feel regretful about anything it’s that I didn’t allow myself the opportunity to see him on Saturday and congratulate him on another race under his belt.

It’s okay to feel the guilt and swat it away like a kitten with a toy mouse. Beating yourself up accomplishes nothing. In life’s endless race there are many individual journeys and I won’t let a four miler make or break mine.

Have you ever skipped a race, or anything, because you just weren’t feeling it?

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