Why Is Running So Hard?

Running can be really hard. Many people find it difficult to keep at it no matter how much they want to stay fit and healthy. Have you ever asked yourself – why is running so hard for me? Iron deficiency, fatigue, stress, lack of motivation, poor form – all these factors make running more challenging than other forms of exercise.

Is running a mile hard? In this blog post, we tackle the 12 main reasons why running can be so tough and share 10 useful tips to make your runs easier. We’ll answer all questions about this activity that will not only help overcome difficulties but may even turn running into an enjoyable experience for you!

Why Is Running So Hard on the Body?

Why is running so hard? Improper form, increased intensity or speed during runs, failing to warm up before running as well as iron deficiency can all make running hard. Yes, running is hard, but mental strength is an important factor in this activity.

A man feeling the hardship while running

Is Running Hard?

Running can be difficult due to physical and mental challenges, such as body fatigue or stress. All runners experience these challenges in different ways, from novices to expert endurance athletes. You need not only physical strength to get through the run but also mental toughness to push yourself beyond your comfort zone when times get tough.

Mental strain aside, physically speaking, there are many risks associated with overexerting our bodies during runs. When muscles and connective tissues experience repeated bouts of stretching due to impact from weight-bearing activities, it can lead to sprains or strains until you take some time off and recover properly.

It’s also important to consider the intensity at which you are running, as it can have a profound effect on your body while running hard surfaces. Running longer distances with shorter rest periods puts greater strain on muscles and ligaments than simply covering the same base miles over several days with adequate rest between runs.

Why Do People Run If Running Is Hard?

Despite the difficulty of running, many people are still drawn to it. Oftentimes this resistance makes the rewards all that sweeter. The sense of achievement after a run is one of many reasons why people continue to push through and keep at it.

Running becomes part of their lifestyle as they realize its numerous benefits on mental health in addition to physical fitness goals. It’s not just about pushing yourself physically – running also requires mental resilience and determination. Challenging runs can be exhausting both mentally and emotionally, but runners take pride in conquering their obstacles no matter how hard or far the distance may be.

The 12 Main Reasons Why Running Can Be So Hard

Why are some runs harder than others? There are 12 main contributing factors why running can be hard. Understanding these obstacles can help a runner identify areas that need attention for successful training.

1. Body Fatigue

Body fatigue is one of the biggest obstacles faced by both beginner and experienced runners. It manifests itself in two ways: as an exhaustion of energy that leads to a halt in physical activity and as pain or discomfort caused by muscular tension.

To avoid overexertion, you need to increase distance gradually and incorporate rest days.

2. Stress And Anxiety

Running can often be a mental challenge as much as it is physical. Many runners report mental strain while running, from feeling overwhelmed to worrying about the result.

One of the primary challenges for athletes, especially those pushing their boundaries and goals, is managing stress and anxiety that come with new physical goals. In order to combat the stress, try building up a recovery plan in advance. Add progressive muscle relaxation exercises (PMR) or massage therapy.

3. Inadequate Rest

Resting is crucial to achieving optimum performance for any runner. It helps the body to recover from physical exertion and keeps energy levels in check. Insufficient rest leads to fatigue during running, reduced strength, decreased motivation, and difficulty maintaining a pace.

This can be fixed with adequate preparation or by allowing extra rest days between each run session depending on your fitness level and intensity of training.

4. Lack of Planning

Not taking the time to plan your running goals may lead to discouragement or even injury. Set yourself up for success by preparing thoughtfully. Determine realistic expectations for each run and give yourself advantages such as appropriate footwear, a trail free from traffic or pets, and well-timed breaks.

5. Failing To Warm-up

It’s no secret that warming up is an integral part of a successful running routine. Failing to properly warm up before taking off on a run can lead to increased body fatigue and even risk potential injury.

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Pro Tip:

Properly warming up means conducting exercises relevant to the activity you’re about to engage in, such as stretching for running or specific dynamic exercise warm ups like high knees or butt kicks prior to running.

icon run

Pro Tip:

Properly warming up means conducting exercises relevant to the activity you’re about to engage in, such as stretching for running or specific dynamic exercise warm ups like high knees or butt kicks prior to running.

6. Mindset

One of the primary obstacles most runners face is maintaining a positive mindset while trying to reach their goals. When running feels challenging or progress begins to stagnate, it’s common for people to become frustrated and discouraged, making future efforts harder than ever before. Try to stay positive and set realistic goals not to get disappointed.

7. Increased Intensity

Intense exercise involves pushing your body to its limits, whether that’s measuring up against a set distance or time target or upping your speed until you reach peak levels during an interval session.

In addition, it is necessary for runners to ensure adequate recovery sessions between workouts in order to perform at their best.

A man run with increased intensity
Photo by ArthurHidden on Freepik

8. Inadequate Nutrition

During intense workouts, your body requires more nutrients to fuel and provide you with sufficient energy levels needed during a run.

If you do not take in enough of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and fats – it becomes difficult to sustain endurance and performance. Create a healthy nutrition plan and consult a specialist if needed.

9. Overtraining

Overtraining is a common issue amongst all runners, since pushing your body too hard can bring fatigue and difficulty breathing as it begins to reach its limits. If you often find yourself asking “why is it so hard for me to breathe while running,” it may be a sign that you need to slow down.

Taking regular breaks during runs and adhering to weekly exercise plans are essential for avoiding this problem.

10. Low Iron Levels

Low iron levels can have a direct impact on running performance. When iron is not consumed in adequate quantities, it deprives the muscles, including the heart muscle, of oxygen delivery, which negatively affects your performance.

Iron-deficiency anemia creates classic symptoms which are easily recognizable, such as fatigue, malaise, lethargy, and pallor. To avoid it, add foods rich in iron to your diet, such as liver, beans, and nuts.

11. Lack Of Sleep

Lack of sleep is a serious problem for any athlete, regardless of activity level. It can directly impact your athletic performance and the risk of injury due to fatigue.

Sleep deprivation is strongly associated with sports-related injuries as well as decreased performance levels. Try to get an adequate amount of sleep and maintain a healthy sleep schedule.

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12. Mental Burnout

Mental burnout is a state of chronic psychological exhaustion resulting from overexertion and excessive stress. It can be caused by overtraining, training with injury, or inadequate rest period.

Mental burnout often manifests as feeling unmotivated or lack of enjoyment during running sessions. It can be fixed with proper self-care routine and relaxation techniques.

10 Useful Tips To Make Running Not So Hard

To help make running a pleasurable experience, there are several key strategies to consider that can support runners in optimizing their performance and feeling their best.

5 Tips for New Runners

Starting a running routine can be difficult, especially for those new to the sport. Here are 5 simple steps to make the process smoother and more enjoyable:

1. Invest In Proper Running Shoes

Investing in the right running shoes is important for runners who want to stay healthy and improve their performance. The right running shoe should provide adequate support and cushioning, allowing the runner some space to move with extra room at the toes.

Having an improperly fitting pair of running shoes can lead to discomfort, fatigue, pain, and possible long-term injury. In addition to comfort and fit, proper footwear for running also plays an important role in energy efficiency during training or marathon events.

2. Set Achievable Goals

Working towards a goal that’s too challenging can lead to disappointment, so try to set achievable goals. Start small and gradually build up, making sure your plans are manageable and within reach.

Taking progressive steps makes success easier to achieve, as it gives you moments of confidence along the way, inspiring you to keep going even further.

3. Alternate Between Walking And Running

Running requires you to push your body to its limits, and if you don’t take the right steps, it can be hard on your body. That’s why many runners have shifted their focus towards alternating between walking and running.

Alternating between walking and running gives your body time to breathe during a workout session while providing the same amount of total activity as regular running does. For instance, taking walk breaks every 5 minutes for 30 seconds can help improve endurance without tiring out too quickly.

Runners alternating their focus from running to walking
Photo by nensuria from Freepik

4. Know Your Limits And Pace Yourself

Understand and respect your physical boundaries while running to avoid burnout and improve long-term performance. It’s important to understand what level of intensity you can safely sustain for an extended duration as well as your strength that allows you to maintain your pace.

Inadequate training and pushing too hard will eventually lead to injuries or even mental exhaustion.

icon run

Pro Tip:

Asking questions like “what do I need right now? What am I capable of doing? Will it be better if I slow down a bit right now?” offers insight into your body’s limits.

icon run

Pro Tip:

Asking questions like “what do I need right now? What am I capable of doing? Will it be better if I slow down a bit right now?” offers insight into your body’s limits.

5. Make Time For Rest And Good Nutrition

Contrary to popular belief, running is not only about guts and grit. Resting and refueling are also equally important for runners. Ensure you have at least one rest day a week if you are a pro runner and two rest days a week if you are a beginner. In order to maximize your training, ensure you are putting the right nutrients into your body before you hit the streets or trails.

Good nutrition is especially critical for long-distance events, as improper fueling during a run can significantly worsen your performance.

5 Tips For Experienced Runners

To give your body the best chance of success and to ensure that progress can be made gradually, build a consistent routine in advance. Here are 5 useful tips for experienced runners:

Experienced runners work to build progress in their running routine

1. Find Safe, Traffic-Free Routes

It is essential for any runner to prioritize safety and security while planning a running route. To ensure optimal routes, look for safe, traffic-free pathways before beginning your run or jog.

Planning routes with this advice in mind will help minimize distractions from vehicles and protect runners from hazardous areas. You should avoid secluded paths, narrow streets, or other dangerous places.

2. Slow Down On Hills

Running hills can present a major challenge even to the most experienced runner. While it is essential for you to maintain proper form when running uphill, you must also learn to adapt your pace and technique in order to accommodate for the incline.

When attempting an extended hill, breaking it into manageable segments can help make it much more achievable. Shortening your stride will not only make upward progress easier but can also conserve energy throughout each segment of a shorter distance run or race course as well.

3. Incorporate Walk Breaks

Seasoned runners might view walking as a sign of failure; however, if done correctly, it can actually help promote faster running by allowing for active recovery periods throughout the course of a run.

This is known as the Run-Walk method, which has been found to be very effective in preventing burnout or injury while still progressing towards your goals quickly.

4. Don’t Ignore Rest Days

Rest days are essential for any runner’s physical well-being and performance. They help alleviate stress caused by regular exercise and provide the body with time to recover from intense workouts. Besides, they reduce the risk of injury and give your body an opportunity to adjust to increased exercise intensity and frequency.

Taking at least one full day off per week is important for recovery and overall fitness success. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sit around all day – walking or stretching after your runs will still give your muscles some rest while keeping them active.

5. Listen to Your Body And Practice Self-Care

In order to have an enjoyable and healthy running experience, it is essential for runners to take the time to practice self-care, which involves taking the necessary precautions in both physical and emotional health.

Furthermore, listening to how your body feels before, during, and after running can provide early warning signs if something isn’t right or if fatigue is setting in too quickly.

Can Running Be Enjoyed?

Sure! Running may be tough for some, but many people find it enjoyable. The physical and mental benefits of regular running can contribute to the enjoyment and satisfaction of this activity.

Why does running feel so good? The simple act of lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run provides a great chance to relieve stress, clear your head and enjoy an emotionally uplifting experience.

Regular running is good for your body not only on a physiological level, e.g. improved cardiovascular health and weight loss potential — it has also been proven to improve moods as well as boost confidence levels when you meet personal goals along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions: Why Is Running So Hard On The Body?

Why Can’t Some People Run?

There are many physical and mental barriers that could prevent someone from successfully completing a run. Lack of physical conditioning, breathing problems, or even psychological blocks can all keep the runner from achieving their goal.

Why Is The First Mile the Hardest?

The first mile of a run is usually the hardest and can feel like an eternity as the body and mind adjust to the rapid increase in oxygen demand and physical exertion. Before a run, our bodies are in a restful state, which makes it difficult for them to make the sudden switch to running full-speed.

Why Is Running on the Treadmill Harder?

While individual factors may play a role, running on a treadmill can feel harder than running outdoors due to three main reasons: shorter strides, more quadriceps load, and overall difference in biomechanics.

Final Thoughts: Why Is Running So Hard?

Running can be an incredibly rewarding experience but can also feel like a real challenge for many people, as it requires both physical and mental endurance. Body fatigue, inadequate rest, lack of motivation and planning, and poor form or technique can contribute to making running harder than usual.

Factors like iron deficiency or common conditions such as asthma can lead to difficulty breathing while running, which is another factor that hurts performance. Furthermore, running is primarily a mental sport requiring a great deal of mental toughness in order to keep pushing through the pain barrier and maintain pacing.

However, with consistent effort you will find your own path into unlocking your running potential. No one said it was going to be easy!

Do you enjoy running or find it hard? Are you an experienced runner or just starting? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Also read:


  1. Dominika Wilczyńska, Wen Qi, José Carlos Jaenes, David Alarcón, María José Arenilla, Mariusz Lipowski, “Burnout and Mental Interventions among Youth Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Studies,” Int J Environ Res Public Health 19, no. 17 (2022):10662, doi: 10.3390/ijerph191710662.
  2. Freya Oswald, Jennifer Campbell, Chloë Williamson, Justin Richards, Paul Kelly, “A Scoping Review of the Relationship between Running and Mental Health,” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 21 (2020): 8059, https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218059.
  3. Juha-Pekka Kulmala, Jukka Kosonen, Jussi Nurminen, Janne Avela, “Running in Highly Cushioned Shoes Increases Leg Stiffness and Amplifies Impact Loading,” Scientific Reports 8, no. 17496 (2018).
  4. Marc-Tudor Damian, Romana Vulturar, Cristian Cezar Login, Laura Damian, Adina Chis, Anca Bojan, “Anemia in Sports: A Narrative Review,” Life (Basel, Switzerland) 11, no. 9 (2021): 987.
  5. Marjan Wouthuyzen-Bakker, Sander van Assen, “Exercise-Induced Anaemia: A Forgotten Cause of Iron Deficiency Anaemia in Young Adults.” The British Journal of General Practice: The Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners 65, no. 634 (2015): 268-269, doi: 10.3399/bjgp15X685069.

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