Three Tips to Help Decide What to do When the Struggle Bus Hits

Making this choice while running and struggling isn’t easy.

Michael Horner
Runner's Life
Published in
6 min readJun 1, 2021


The struggle bus departure. Photo by Juan Encalada on Unsplash

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been running all of your life or just getting started. Elite runners face this dilemma as much as the back of the pack runners.

When the struggle bus hits while you’re running, the choice to try and run through it or bag the run is exactly the same.

The choice to run on or call it a day is both physical and mental — processing and making the right choice will take your training and your next race to the next level.

Hopefully, these three tips will help make your decision the next time this bus decides to intercept your running route.

What Does “Struggle Bus” Mean?

If you were thinking a literal bus was about to hit you while running, it might be helpful to know what the “struggle bus” is and where the term originated. has probably the most helpful explanation of the term “struggle bus.” The word means that somebody is “struggling with some tasks or challenges in their life at the moment. It especially refers to tests that are originally pretty simple to handle, but for some reason, they seem particularly hard at the time.

There’s even a book and a country music song about the struggle bus.

When you hear a runner refer to the “struggle bus,” it usually refers to a run where it feels like you are running through quicksand. The more you try to turn over your feet, the more it feels like running in place and getting nowhere.

Often, you will find “struggle bus” runs happening when you are carrying far too much stress and/or getting too little sleep.

What To Do When The Struggle Bus Hits — Tip # 1

The struggle bus is real, not a legend. Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

A father of nine children wrote an entire book about the struggle bus. He even devoted a chapter to us strange creatures who purposely go outside for runs. Josh Woods’s book, “Struggle Bus



Michael Horner
Runner's Life

Full-time business person, ultra-runner, writer, and podcaster. I exist in the world of YOU CAN!

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