How Running Helps You Face Your Inner Darkness

How Running Helps You Face Your Inner Darkness
Photo by afiq fatah / Unsplash

Running can have a dark side to it. Over the last 10 years, I have learned a lot about myself through running. There have been times where I’ve been in an ultra marathon or another fitness event and I wanted it it be over. Physically I was okay, there was nothing wrong with my body. Mentally, my brain wanted to find a way to quit through any means necessary.

I have been in races before where I hoped I would get injured so I didn’t have to run anymore.

It’s freaky what kind of rationalizations the brain will make when it’s under stress.

You don’t have to run ultra marathons to face your inner darkness either. These thoughts can pop up during a tough workout or a day that you don’t want to run.

Running Amplifies The Noise

There are plenty of days where I don’t feel like going out on a run. The subconscious voice that all of us have gets amplified when we are going through a tough workout or a long run.

The importance of having this voice amplified is that it gives us an opportunity to face it.

Challenging that voice when it’s loud is easier then when it’s a whisper in your ear.

What other areas of your life does this voice occur in your subconscious?

Is it that voice where you make any excuse not to workout? “I worked out yesterday, I can rest today.”

These excuses are so subtle that we don’t even realize we are making them. They seem rational at the time because why does today matter when I can do it tomorrow?

Running Helps You Maintain A Commitment

I’m a believer that all of us should have one personal commitment in our lives that we do everyday. It doesn’t need to be incredibly hard but it should be something that is somewhat challenging.

The most challenging thing about a personal commitment is that there are no immediate external consequences from not doing them.

You don’t have a boss telling you that you need to hit this deadline or there will be consequences.

You don’t have a significant other to disappoint.

It’s you vs you everyday. No one is going to care if you do it other than you. This is what makes the internal battle everyday to quit.

The more you fight this internal battle, the stronger you will become against that inner voice that wants you to quit.

The lessons from making a commitment like this to yourself extend far more than running. It teaches you what it takes to have the discipline to start something new, learn something difficult and make those News Years resolutions stick that 87% of people fail to do.

Running Is Delayed Gratification At It’s Finest

People talk about runners highs but to be honest, even if you run everyday like I do, you don’t experience a runners high that often. Many runs are not enjoyable until they are over.

The purpose of the runs is learning what delayed gratification means. If you want to run a 1/2 marathon some day, skipping a day may hinder your goals. Running on a day that you don’t want to doesn’t feel great in the moment but it pushes you closer to that goal of running a 1/2 marathon.

Then when that glorious day of running a 1/2 marathon comes, you feel so accomplished and you will not regret skipping that day.

99% of the time, you will regret skipping a workout or a run. It’s always easier to not do something that it is. Especially when it comes to being consistent and that’s one of the things that running can teach you.

You Learn What An Excuse Truly Is

The other day, I was driving to work. My work has a gym in the building but you need to bring your own towels. When I was half way to work, I realized that I forgot my towel. A part of my mind wanted to skip the run entirely because I “couldn’t shower.”

There was an option, shower and dry off with paper towels. It wasn’t the best but I made it happen. That moment was when I realized that if you have exhausted all options and something is impossible to do, it’s no longer an excuse. If there still is an option on the table (that’s not illegal or ridiculous) and you choose not to take it, that’s an excuse.


Facing the inner darkness is hard. I have found that the best way to face the inner darkness is first you have to put yourself through some form of struggle. The road to struggle is the most challenging part. Once you get there, you will then have an opportunity to face the final boss which is that voice in your head that wants to quit with any means necessary. Once you face it, you realize how that voice is active in your everyday life. We don’t even realize that it’s there most of the time. All those excuses don’t sound like excuses. Every decision we made felt like it was out of our control and there was nothing we could do about it.

I discovered how to face this through running. How will you face yours?