The Hardest Run I Ever Ran

Almost two years ago, sometimes in July 2011, on a hot summer morning, here I am, on an alley in one of the biggest parks in Bucharest, all dressed up and geared up, ready to pick up running again. I have told myself so many times that I will start running and never actually did it, that I almost stopped believed this myself. Somehow, though, as part of a bigger challenge, here I am, on a beautiful morning, my iPhone attached on the arm, with a running app fired up, ready to record my first race. Ready to pick up running. To become a runner.

And here I go. One leg in front of the other, a bit leaned forward, breathing, balancing my arms back and forth. And, after these first sensations, I don’t remember anything. All I remember is that, 300 meters later, I stopped, almost choking, my head on the verge of exploding, my heart beating like a hammer and my lungs trying to escape my body, in a desperate attempt to get some more air.

300 meters. That’s how far I got. 300 meters and I literally thought I will throw up. I will always remember how bad I felt, not only on the physical level, but mentally, realizing that 300 meters is such an incredibly long distance. I crawled for 100 meters more and then tried again. Another 300 meters. This time, it felt better. A little bit better. My head was still hurting, my heart was beating wildly, but at least I was able to kinda breathe in and out.

From that moment on, things started to improve. But the first race, that 300 meters race on a July 2011 morning, well, that is a race I will never forget.

I may forget my first official competition as a runner, although I even won a medal, for the second place. I may even forget some of the sensations I experienced during my first marathon, but I will never, ever forget how bad it was when I started to run.

The Most Difficult Step In A Journey

It’s the first step. It’s always the first step. And it’s the most difficult for a reason.

That first step will dislocate a part of the Universe that was solidified. It will violently break up the current order. It will tear up old habits, old patterns, old frozen paths.

And that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do. It’s almost as difficult as carving a path on a rocky mountain with your bear hands. It will get bloody.

Many people don’t even take that first step. It hurts too much. The current order of the Universe is so cosy and comfortable that they don’t see any reason whatsoever to challenge it. The effort will be overwhelming.

And yet, without that first step, you’ll get stuck. You won’t go anywhere, you won’t feel anything new, you won’t experience any new taste whatsoever. You’ll just sit there, immobile as a statue. And statues, we all know, despite their surprising similarity in shape and appearance with human beings, are actually dead.

It Will Only Get Better

I experienced many variations of pain and many types of setbacks in my running routine, during the last 2 years. During the marathon I even surprised myself bleeding. I had injuries that kept me away from running for weeks or months. But none of these variations of pain, none of these setbacks felt so incredibly powerful like my first 300 meters race.

The first attempt to do something will always be clumsy and painful and, more often than not, ridiculous, just as I was ridiculous standing there, in that park, half leaned forward, choking, with a red face and all covered in sweat, being the target of all the practical jokes of little kids.

The trick is that, from that moment on, it will only get better.

11 thoughts on “The Hardest Run I Ever Ran”

  1. My experience was little different Dragos. My Hardest run was in a compitation. When I broke the long lasting record time of that compitation. I never forget that day. The half an hour after the race, I felt as if I am going to collapse at that place, but the crews caught me.

  2. Thanks for sharing you experience Dragos. Actually I was searching for some pain while I run, when I stumbled upon your post. Your story gave me courage, to fight any such pain I feel. I consulted the doctor. He just advised to increase exercise slowly. So that my body can be used to that.

  3. I would have to agree that the first step is by far the hardest, but it seems like there is always at least one hurdle or barrier to overcome even once you have some momentum in life. To me, the first wall that you have to break through is almost harder than just taking that first step. Sometimes I feel like I run full force into that wall and it is hard to talk myself into getting up and picking up the sledge hammer to break it down. Walking away is an easy option.
    This is why I feel like it is necessary to develop a good base of friends (relative to that goal) in the beginning of your first steps of whatever it is you are trying to achieve, so they can help you through those trying times.

  4. Agree with Craig above… it’s the first step that is the most difficult. I find it the same thing when I work out. I find it difficult to start, but once i’m going, I’m motivated and complete the whole workout.

  5. Aloha Drago,

    Spot-on Post—I think just about every digital nomad has a catharsis like running, walking, standing on one’s head and walking backwards… Enjoyed the post and hope to see and read more about your “foot steps” and running journey. Yes, the first step is hard. But yes inch by inch it’s a cinch, yard by yard it’s too hard.

    Running Myles

  6. Hey Dragos.

    Well said. “It’s the first step. It’s always the first step. And it’s the most difficult for a reason.”

    Take that first step and keep stepping. As anyone with a basic understanding of physics will tell you, maintaining momentum is significantly easier than creating it. The first step is both the scariest and the most empowering. It’s also the most important. Procrastination is the enemy of potential, the refuge of the weak and a synonym for fear.

    The vast majority of people who take that long-overdue first step usually say something very predictable like “I wish I had done this years ago” or “I don’t know what I was so afraid of”. Get your potential out of neutral, engage a gear, hit the gas and don’t look back. Everything after the first step is a blessing or a lesson.


  7. Hi Dragos. I gave up running and took to walking because the pain became too intense. I suppose you just go to know when to ,ove to the next level.


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