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Beyond the finish line: Why it’s not easy being a runner

By: Brian J. Ochoa - CDN Digital | May 06,2024 - 04:51 PM

struggles of runner

Officials carry a sobbing runner after competing in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association 2024 meet in Cebu. | Photo by John Velez photography

CEBU CITY, Philippines–The sight of a runner crossing the finish line with a triumphant smile can often mask the struggles and challenges they endure in a race. 

While spectators witness the physical prowess and determination on display, runners themselves grapple with a myriad of obstacles that test their mental, emotional, and physical fortitude. 

This was highlighted recently when CDN Digital shared photos of known photographer John Velez showing the struggles of runners competing in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVIRAA) 2024 meet in Cebu City.

Velez said he’s seen a lot of runners who collapsed after crossing the finish line in the CVIRAA athletics event held at the Sacred Heart School Ateneo de Cebu oval in Mandaue City, Cebu. He even said one athlete collapsed during a race.

He said, though, that medical personnel were quick to attend to athletes who collapsed during or after races. 

runner struggles

Team officials and fellow runners tend to a runner of Mandaue City who lost consciousness after a run in the CVIRAA 2024. | John Velez Photography

Multi-titled runner Artjoy Torregosa said challenges and struggles are part of a runner’s life.

“Normal ra gyud nang mga struggles nga ma-experience sa mga athlete karun maong padayun gihapon sa pagdagan bisan kapoy kaayo na, mag lisud na ug ginhawa, mag lisud na ug alsa sa tiil ug mahagba na pag abot sa finish line kay gihatag na nila tanan kusug kay naa silay goal nga makuha ang gold or ma-qualify para Palaro,” Torregosa said.

The Palaro is the Palarong Pambansa which is a multisporting event of the best student athletes in the country. Winners in the CVIRAA will represent their region in the Palaro.

“Tanan athletes mao gyud nay pangandoy nga makadula sa Palaro. Maong bisan sa kalisud, mopadayun gyud ang mga athlete. Dili lang kay para sa ila, kundi para sad sa ilang lugar nga gi-represent,” she added.

Collapsing is just one struggle of competing runners that may be caused by the heat these past days. 


CVIRAA 2024: No outdoor games from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. due to extreme heat

Coach Arvin Loberanis shares tips on how to become a good runner

What other challenges do runners go through?  

From the starting line to the final stretch, here are some of the common struggles experienced by runners during a competition:

Pre-race anxiety

The anticipation of a race can evoke a mix of excitement and nerves, leading to pre-race jitters. As runners gather at the starting line, thoughts of performance, competition, and personal goals can amplify anxiety levels. Managing these emotions requires mental preparation, relaxation techniques, and focusing on the task at hand.

Pain and fatigue

Endurance races push the body to its limits, often resulting in physical discomfort and fatigue. Sometimes, this is what causes an athlete to collapse. Muscles ache, joints protest, and the mind battles against the urge to stop. Pushing through pain requires mental resilience, a strong determination to reach the finish line, and sometimes the ability to distinguish between normal discomfort and signals of potential injury.

struggles of runner

EXHAUSTED. Runners who competed in the 1,500-meter race of the CVIRAA lie on the oval after crossing the finish line. | John Velez Photography

Mental battles

Races are as much a mental challenge as a physical one. Runners must contend with doubt, negative thoughts, and the temptation to give up, especially during moments of exhaustion. Overcoming these mental battles involve staying focused, drawing upon inner strength, and employing positive self-talk to push through adversity.

Weather condition

Mother Nature can throw a curveball during races, with unpredictable weather conditions adding an extra layer of difficulty. Extreme heat like what the country is experiencing these days can impact performance and increase the risk of heatstroke. Adapting to changing weather requires flexibility, adjusting pace, and dressing appropriately.

runner struggles

| John Velez Photography


The cheers of spectators, support from fellow runners, and encouragement from volunteers play a crucial role in boosting morale during a race. However, in the absence of external motivation, runners must rely on their inner resolve and self-belief to keep pushing forward when the going gets tough.

The struggles faced by runners during competition are as diverse as the races themselves. From battling physical pain and fatigue to overcoming mental obstacles and navigating logistical challenges, each race presents its unique set of trials. Yet, it is precisely these struggles that make the journey of a runner so rewarding, teaching invaluable lessons about resilience, perseverance, and the indomitable spirit of human determination.

Here’s a snappy salute to all runners out there!

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TAGS: athletics, marathon, running

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