I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts recently (ok, it was a while ago, but I’ve been busy). They did an episode where they discussed the different reasons that they run. Some of them resonated with me. Some didn’t. But, it got me thinking about the reasons why I run.
I thought it would be a good post, and maybe a good way to get some of you think about why you run.
I think the main reason I started running is for my health. Obviously. Regular aerobic exercise is good for you. I like being healthy. I want to be around for a long time.
But that will only get you so far. Everyone knows that exercise is good for you. Everyone knows that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for you. Not everyone chooses the good over the bad.
So, why do I keep running?
The easy answer is that it keeps me sane. Running gives me an outlet for stress relief, and provides some mental clarity. There are times when I feel myself getting super stressed out and the first thing I want to do to try to calm down is to go for a run. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible. By running regularly, I am able to build stress relief into my life before the stress gets the better of me. Granted, I still get stressed (I’m Type A, it’s going to happen!), but because I have that regular outlet, it isn’t so bad.
Running also gives me a chance to clear my mind. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have worked through a problem on a long run. There is something about spending an hour or two putting one foot in front of the other that gives my mind the room it needs to problem solve.
Running makes everything else in my life fall into place. This is something that my husband doesn’t understand…and he isn’t alone. And it is really hard for me to explain to people. But the reality is that I am much more productive on the days I run. I’m happier on the days I run. I can think more clearly on the days I run. Running makes me able to handle everything else that life throws at me. It gives me the physical and mental fortitude to better deal with daily stressors.
I have learned a lot since I started running. I think the biggest thing is that I’ve learned mental toughness. No matter how much I love running, there are days when that particular run is awful. There are days when I’m tired, or sore, or just lethargic. Those are the days I have to push through and suck it up. Running has provided this opportunity time after time. And it translates to other areas of my life. Mental fortitude is a great characteristic to develop and running gives me a lot of practice.
Running provides me a chance to set goals. I have always been a big fan of goals. I like the process of figuring out what I want, discovering the process of how to get there, and working hard to see it through. Through running, I have set, and reached, a lot of goals. And the greatest thing is that I’ve learned I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible. Every time I succeed in reaching a running-related goal, I can add another ‘success’ to my resume. And I don’t say that to sound egocentric. But reaching a running goal gives me confidence in being able to reach goals in other areas of my life.
Success breeds success. Reaching the finish line of my first marathon, or finally breaking two hours in a half marathon, or running a 10K in under 50 minutes…all of these things were things I once thought were impossible for me. But, I’ve done them. And now I realize that I am stronger than I thought I was.
Running has also taught me something about not reaching my goals. There are races that I prepared for in order to get a new PR…and it didn’t happen. I was disappointed. I was depressed. I was questioning my abilities….for a few minutes. Not reaching a goal can be sad and disappointing. But, I’ve learned that it provides an opportunity to look over my training and preparation going into that race. Could I have trained better? Could I have trained smarter? Was I injured? How was my diet? Was I getting enough rest?
When I don’t reach a goal, I have to look back and take inventory and learn from it. That way, when I set the next goal, I can adjust my preparation and have a better chance for success.
I also think it is important for my boys to see that mom runs. Not only do they see me having fun and staying in shape, but they see me pushing through and setting goals. I hope that they will learn from what I’m doing and be goal-setters in their own lives.
So…why do YOU run?