It sounds crazy, right?! Why the heck are people so excited to get outside in the hot, cold, dry, rainy, etc. weather to suffer through pain, exhaustion and fatigue, sweat, intense hunger, and sore muscles?? I totally get it. When you first start out, most people are not super stoked about running. There is no denying it- running is a tough sport! And getting into "running shape" is extremely difficult, and requires a lot of sacrifice, self-discipline, and determination and persistence to not quit when the going gets really tough (which is basically all the time, every day when you first start).
The good news is that with time, running DOES get easier because you get stronger and fitter, and your body gets accustomed to heightened intensity levels of cardiovascular exercise. Plus, running has a ton of awesome health benefits that folks can easily get addicted to (in a good way!). The obvious ones are a leaner physique and toned muscles, but even more important are the mental health improvements that running can bring. Exercise releases endorphins that boost serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical in the brain that controls depression, and so a boosted level means lessened depression, lessened stress levels, lessened anxiety levels, and a calmer disposition. At the end of a terrible day, a brisk run can do WONDERS to reverse a foul mood!
Running also builds community. Simply look to social media for inspiration! There are tons of people with entire Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated to running, and reaching out and bonding with other runners who love the sport too. This is probably another reason why your friends enjoy it - because they can do it together! There's nothing like suffering through a really hard running workout with another friend. It is a bonding experience that can be really personal and intimate, even if it sounds cheesy. Plus, it gives a REASON to connect to people. What better way to reach out to a friend who might be struggling, or just need to talk or vent, then to invite them on a long, slow morning run. Plus, the pre-race carb load and the post-race treats are definitely meant to be shared with runner friends!