Restraint in Running


The word has been ping-ponging in my head for a few months now.


As a runner, does that mean something to you?  Do you focus on restraint?  Do you harness it?  How much do you even have?

As I started running more and more miles, from my half-mile breathless romps around northwest Gainesville to 8-mile long runs in heat or downpour and sometimes both, the word restraint began to force itself upon me, as if actively taking on a new meaning.

As a new runner, I ignored restraint and it ignored me.  Where is the restraint in running until your lungs sear, your legs ache and your head spins.  And this in 10, maybe 15 minutes.  Even a mile run?

Is there restraint in taking a day off when wild horses couldn’t drag you out for a run?

I couldn’t find any.  Less so crossing a self-imagined self-imposed finish line on my first three-mile run; give it all you’ve got – 110% of your energy, joy, willpower.  Let it all out.  Get across that line.

Somewhere down the road, maybe literally, the word “cannot” melts. It drips from your forehead onto the road, stepped on, passed, eventually forgotten.  “Cannot” is replaced by “when” and “how.”

Maybe there’s no singular moment.  I can’t remember mine.  But “when” and “how” become lasting.  Everlasting, I hope.  “When” and “how” lead you to the doorsteps of… you guessed it.


Excitement.  Restraint.  Sprinting.  Restraint.  Two-a-days.  Restraint. 5 miles, 10 miles, 20 miles, marathon, ultramarathon, 100-miler.  Restraint, you mother fucker.

And a blessing or a curse?

Is restraint keeping my achilles attached, or is it keeping me from Olympic trials?  Is restraint keeping my mind sharp, focused, energized and burnout-proof, or is it unnecessarily gnawing at me, weakening me from the inside?

Questions to ponder, yes.  To answer? I don’t know.  I’m not sure I ever will.

Whether or not an aid or a Band-Aid, I see and feel restraint in my present self as a runner.  Restraint to warm-up and not bolt out the door.  Restraint to keep a pace that will see me through a 50-minute run.  Restraint to rest a strained achilles – my body saying “no” and my mind screaming “go!”

I believe it a powerful tool. I trust it will serve me well, but I can’t be sure, and only time will tell.


About Benjamin Markus

I am a 32-year-old runner living in Gainesville, FL.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Restraint in Running

  1. nerdthatruns says:

    awesome post. its a balance, and who knows if we’re really balanced or leaning too far one side…

  2. Anna says:

    Hey Ben, you’re a great writer. As someone who has recently started running (last 3 months of so), I often find myself thinking similar thoughts. I’ll be interested to see what’s ping-ponging around in your head next. 🙂

  3. Hutson says:

    I struggle with “rest days”.

    Of course, running quiets my mind an when my mind is working over time the idea of a day off is torture.

    Always my body has the last say. If I can run easy smooth light and fast then all is well!

    • Thanks for commenting, Hutson.

      Rest days really are a duality for me. When my training is really on point, I want nothing to do with them. But if I’m in a rut, or feeling run down, then I take some comfort in them. It would be nice to never need a rest day, but I know that for myself, both physically and mentally, I need one or two a week at least.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s