Reasons for Running

Deep thoughts appear in the predawn hours when you’re pushing up a long hill. My friend, Hari, and I had a conversation on our hill run about how our reasons for running have changed through the years. I said I wanted to keep running into old age to stay healthy.

Through the years, some of my reasons for running have changed. Some have remained the same, and others are no longer as important as they once were.

Sunglasses

Somewhat loosely in order, here is a possible progression of our reasons for running:

  • Running because we were amazed that we could. This is how it started for me. I couldn’t believe I could run, breathe, and sometimes talk at the same time. I remembered how I was always running when I was a kid, and wondered why I stopped.
  • Running because we loved it. This is what kept us coming back. After we stuck it out and finally reached the point where we didn’t feel like we were going to die during every run, we realized how much we loved it. It felt like freedom.
  • Running to get faster. Running became easier. We had a few PR’s and placed a few times in our age groups in races. We realized we could train more and get faster. We appreciated the feeling of running fast and passing others in a race.
  • Running because we couldn’t not run. We were hooked. Our runs came first over everything else on our schedules. We made running friends who became like family. We started spending more money on running clothes and shoes than our regular wardrobe. Vacation plans were made around race schedules.

Trail Shoes

  • Running to run longer and train for marathons. We listened to the stories and watched the more experienced runners. We decided we needed to run a marathon. This was serious business now. Training became our second jobs.
  • Running to prove something to ourselves. Without realizing it, running became something much deeper than merely logging the miles. Finishing our first marathons showed us we could do anything we set our hearts and minds to doing. We realized we were so much better and stronger than we ever thought possible. We learned to believe in ourselves.
  • Running to prove something to others. Not everyone believed in us. A lot of people thought we were crazy. The ghosts from the past laughed in our ear. We ran to prove them wrong and to still the voices once and for all.
  • Running so we could eat what we wanted. Bread, pasta, desserts, and beer. We could eat it all and not gain weight. Eventually we realized it would all catch up with us, and it did. It took awhile, but we became more conscious of eating healthier.

Water Bottles

Currently, these are the most prominent reasons I continue to run:

  • Running because we know it’s what our bodies were made to do. On a very deep level, we know our bodies were made to run. Especially when we run trails, we tap into something ancient and primal. This is living.
  • Running to stay healthy as we get older. Running by itself is no longer enough. We add yoga and strength training to our routines to stay flexible and strong enough for the trails. Recovery takes longer. But we look around at others our age and realize they look and move as if they are much older.
  • Running because it teaches us things about ourselves. Bad runs are the best teachers. Nothing has taught me more about myself, my limits, or my possibilities than running, especially when I have to dig deep, or when I fail to reach a goal.
  • Running because it’s what we do. Not running feels like we’re not being true to ourselves. There’s nothing on TV that could ever take the place of a good run. Unimportant things and concerns are brushed aside. Running is more important. It sustains us.
  • Running because it’s who we are. We have other roles, other friends, other lives, but first and foremost, we are runners. It’s how we define ourselves.

Why do you run?

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12 comments

  1. iRuniBreathe

    I like your comment on running because “it’s what our bodies are made to do.” I think when the endorphins kick in or you feel “in the zone” you really realize that this is essentially what you were made to do.

    I run for sanity, for fun, for fitness and because it’s no longer an option. I run because I breathe. 😉

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Exactly. It’s what we do. It’s no longer an option. We might get in a slump every once in a while, but we always come back to it. It’s not even second nature, it’s more like first nature, because it’s what we were meant to do.

  2. saltchronicles

    All of the above. Plus, running provides me with an hour or two to be alone with my thoughts, to be quiet, and away from my children. It relaxes me, lets me work out my anxieties on the pavement, and allows me to then be more present and patient when I return home. It’s my form of meditation.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I absolutely agree about running being a form of meditation, especially trail running. It’s still pretty easy to zone out when running on the road, but trail running demands that I remain completely in the present moment–or I’ll trip.

  3. A Wanderer

    Why I run depends on the day and the mood. I think I have a little of all the above in me at different times.

    I think I first started running to prove to myself I could (or couldn’t depending on the day). Now I think I run (1) so that I can eat what I want,(2) because I don’t need anyone else or a gym and (3) because it may hurt at times but it still feels better than the stress it helps relieve.

    Sometimes I wonder if really I run because I don’t like to fail. Once I start something… I like to see it to the end and running always seems to get me there.

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