One of my favorite bloggers over at Happy Fit Mama recently wrote a post about why she runs. I absolutely love reading stories about why other runner’s run. Sometimes their reasons are the same as mine, sometimes they are different. But I can always relate, on some level, to the feelings they talk about when they’re running; to their “whys”.
And it got me thinking. Why do I run?
I started running in high school. I was a slightly chubby, decently talented soccer player who wanted to be better. I ran as part of conditioning workouts, and once I got past the point of hating the runs (i.e. they finally got easier) I realized how fun it was to feel like you’re flying. From there I joined my high school track team and competed throughout high school in the distance events (1600m, 3200m, and 4 x 800m relay team). I did pretty well, and even competed at our conference championships my junior year. My mile PR, which I will never come close to again, was 5:39! Running gave me confidence. Running gave me an identity, and a way to categorize myself, which was actually pretty important.
(I have no idea why anyone thought this uniform was a good idea. My favorite touch is the “scrunchy” in my hair).
I debated trying out for the cross country team in college. I went to a DIII school, so theoretically, it should have been possible. But it turns out that my college happens to have a girls cross country team that wins National Championships just about every year. I was more than a little intimidated, and did not try out for the team. Still, I ran in college. Not as often as I should have, but I ran. Running helped me keep my sanity, to de-stress from all the papers and exams. Running helped me maintain my weight, and not gain all of the freshman fifteen. Running helped me meet a few friends, and I learned how quickly miles can fly with good company.
After college, I kept running pretty consistently. I started entering local 5K and 10K races. I started to get faster, and I found myself craving times to run. I would get up before work to run and I am not a morning runner. But when it was a choice between that or not running, I made it happen. I became more consistent, and I fell even more in love with the sport. Running gave me the satisfaction of watching myself improve, of overcoming barriers and achieving new goals. I ran my first marathon in 2006. Running gave me an appreciation for what my body could really do.
(After the Detroit Marathon in 2006. All I remember is we finished on the 50 yard line of Ford Field and then had to climb several flights of stairs to get the heck out of there. Fail!)
When I was pregnant with my daughters, running gave me a healthy way to exercise. Running allowed me to keep moving and time to embrace the solitude while pondering what the coming months and years were going to look like. I stopped running (waddling?) eight months into my first pregnancy, and I ran again for the first time at four weeks post-partum. It was not pretty. I was slow and every movement felt hard and labored, not carefree and natural. But I remember almost every minute of that euphoric two mile (treadmill!) run. I was so happy I cried! To be fair, I was four weeks post-partum and cried about a lot of things. Running gave me an emotional outlet, a way to let it all go.
(After the completion of my first half marathon post-kid. My oldest was eight months here).
I run because I can leave a hot mess and return a calm and happy mama.
I run because I love a challenge.
I run because it’s a healthy way to compete, to push myself to improve.
I run because sometimes it’s the only hour of my day that I get to do exactly what I want.
I run because it feels amazing.
I run because I can hear myself think better.
I run because of the feeling of accomplishment that comes after a challenging speed session or long run.
I run because there is no better feeling in the world than running on a “good day” where you feel like you could go forever.
I run because I want my girls to see that women can be strong and confident – and that these are good things.
I run because I am so thankful to God for my body, and I want to use it to His glory.
I run because I love it, because it still defines me, makes me happy, and de-stresses me.
I run because I am – and will always be – a runner.
What about you? Why do you run?