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.
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.
- 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.
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?