A good friend said to me recently, “you’re running crazy miles. Do you know what drives you? Is something chasing you?”
I smiled. Then I began to think about the question. When I remind my husband that “I’m running after work,” he often asks me, in jest, “what are you running from?” Another friend says you’d never catch her running from anything except fire or poop (A pretty good general rule of thumb, no?) All this, and my last post, has me really asking myself… why do I run? What drives me?
Physically, obviously nothing is chasing me. I’m not being run down by wild coyotes (or fire or poop). Though I would run if any of those things were true. And I’ll tell you (and so will my running partner) that there are days when the transition from work to running is really unpleasant. Last night it took a good three miles before I felt good – so you can imagine what I’m like during that time. Yuck.
Metaphorically, I am probably running from something. Depends on the day I guess. Perhaps I’m running from my fear of growing old, from my fear of getting fat, from my fear of being alone. After a good, solid long (or even short) run, I feel young, vibrant, thin, and able to deal with long periods of solitude, ready to take on the world. I feel mentally and physically healthy when I kick it out. I really come alive when I’m all sweaty and salty and gross. 🙂
Otherwise, I don’t really know why I do it. I can’t fully explain the feeling I get crossing a finish line, or, when not in an organized race, just getting to the point where I call it done. Accomplishment seems too strong a word, or at least an inappropriate one. I haven’t accomplished anything to make the world a better place after having completed a long run. [As an aside, I think that I also run from my fear of not leaving a work legacy that I’m more proud of. I have a great job, and I’m grateful for it, but I often struggle with the “I-need-to-be-doing-more-to-save-slash-change-the-world” 19-year-old college student who lives inside my head.] But I have contributed to my overall health, and I can’t make positive contributions in the world without being physically and mentally healthy. Running gives me that, even when it hurts. So that’s why I do it.
Several things come quickly to mind when I think about why I run:
Fitness – i.e. I can fit into my skinny pants, and I have really strong legs.
Physical health/activity – I keep running because I’ve put in so much time/effort I don’t want to lose it. Sloths are cute, but I don’t want to be one.
Mental health – I started running when my dad died, to clear my head…to stay active. Now there are so many other things that can distract me mentally. I work out a lot of mind fuck on my runs.
There’s something rhythmically soothing about a long run.
There’s something about facing the physical and mental challenges of the long run. And who am I kidding? Even a short run, on any day, can be a challenge.
There’s really nothing like a race start. Nothing like mid-race. Nothing like crossing a finish line. Here are recent start line, mid-race and finish line pics. See? Happy.
No one can run for me. I have to do it. It’s mine, and I own it, even on the bad days.
A recent television commercial for Scheels, a sporting goods store speaks to me.She runs to think. Or not. She runs to indulge her guilty pleasures. And for girls’ night out. But she doesn’t just run for her body. She runs for her soul. She runs to stay grounded. And to soar. She runs for her mother. And her own legacy. She runs. Not to escape. But to get closer to herself.
So, if you’re a runner, why do you run? If you’re not a runner, I’d encourage you to start. Being the perfect runner isn’t the goal, and the benefits are worth the temporary pain.