Why I run

Do you ever wonder why you run? Why you really run? Maybe there are reasons that are hard to put into words… Maybe your reason is deeply personal or maybe you don’t even have a good reason. Maybe you run to stay fit, maybe you run for fun?

After I ran yesterday, I laid on my yoga mat and had a vivid memory…

When I was about 13, I started running on the “track” behind the house I temporarily lived in. I call it a “track”  because it was basically a huge dirt lot where 4 laps were equivalent to one mile. At this time, my family was going through a very difficult period. My parents were separated and it seemed everyone was going through their own personal struggle… We didn’t talk about it.  

I found myself being naturally drawn to the dirt lot behind my house. I don’t remember ever thinking about what I was doing. I didn’t “plan my runs” or buy new fancy shoes. I didn’t wear a heart rate monitor, check my pace per mile, nor did I ever know how far I ran. Sometimes I would count my laps when my mind needed somewhere to focus. Sometimes I would stop after a short time and sometimes I would lose track of time because I was so deep in thought.

I didn’t know it at the time, but running for me then was a way to handle emotions I didn’t know what to do with.  Running was an outlet, a time to let go.  Sometimes when I ran I would realize that I was actually crying.  That dirt lot became a place of therapy, a place of non-judgement, and a place of solace.

The perfectionist in me was struggling with the reality that I couldn’t make my family perfect.  In fact, I couldn’t even make my family whole.  Sometimes as I ran, I felt numb, a welcome change from feeling so much.  Other times, my run would make me feel alive, my anxiety would lessen, and I would feel more like a teenager, happy and carefree.

There have been times in my life when I have abused running- used it more as a punishment than a reward.  There are times when I have used running to combat guilt and other times when I ran simply because I thought I had to.

I am starting to realize that my relationship with running is complex, messy, and beautiful.  Lately when I am up & running before the sun comes up, I wonder why the hell I do it.  “Am I running just because I am training for a marathon” ?  The answer is no.

These days, I run for myself, not against myself.  These days, my running time is one of the few times during the day that I don’t have to worry about being good enough, that I don’t have to worry about planning my life, wondering if I will be successful, etc.  I run to feel strong, to celebrate my ability to get out there and move, and I run to explore the possibility that I am stronger than I give myself credit for… that I am capable of things outside my imagination.

I believe that over time, my reasons for running will change frequently.  I am deeply interested in supporting myself in this extraordinary sport, by fueling myself well and learning from any mistakes I make.  I also think it is great to acknowledge where you come from.  So here is my manifesto:  I intend to keep running as long as it is for the right reasons.  I plan to remember my past, not to wallow in it, but to respect where I have come from and always remember that the best direction to move is forward.  And last, I promise to always remember how lucky I am to be healthy and strong enough to run and push myself to be better, each and every day.

What motivates you?  Why do you choose to run?  Over time, have your reasons for running changed?

Thanks for reading & for inspiring me to share a bit more detail with you!



8 thoughts on “Why I run

  1. What an insightful post. I love that you have the self-awareness to recognize when running may have been a negative for you rather than a positive, and that the relationship is complicated. I also love that you plan to keep it positive going forward. That takes great strength.

    Right now, I run because it gives me a goal. I’m a SAHM, and even though it’s the right choice for us and I’m good at it, I need something for me, that I can do on my own schedule where it doesn’t interfere hugely with my family life. Running gives me that. In the meantime, I feel better than I ever have in my life and I feel like I’m modeling some excellent behaviors or our child to help HIM have a better and active life.

    1. Thanks so much for reading! I can’t say that I have always had self-awareness, but am glad that I have a little bit these days and hope to keep growing (always!). I love that you do something for yourself. I think that is SO, SO important for everyone, especially SAHM’s. Your child is blessed to a mom that realizes how important it is to take care of yourself so you are available to others. Keep on inspiring yourself, your child, and other mamas out there!

  2. Beautiful Post.

    I started running in 2005 – about three weeks after I found out my (now ex)-husband was cheating on me. Everything in my world was crashing around me. We had moved cross country, I was filing for a divorce, and had two kids. I had a particularly negative thoughts (nearly suicidal), and I realized this is NOT good. I knew that I needed to do something physical that would get me to release so many negative emotions–to get me to feel something again. So, I decided to run. I had never run more than a mile before that. I was about 30 lbs overweight. And I went out and ran five miles. After that run, I couldn’t move for a week, but I ran that first run the whole time, up and down hills, and I knew that if I could run five miles, I could do anything. It sounds cheesy, but it seriously went through my mind and strengthened me.

    After recuperating from that run, I started running more often, twice a week, three times a week, etc. I was soon addicted. I had no goals other than to get up and run. I feel like running saved my life.

    I love how you said that the best direction is forward…for me, I’m no longer a single mom. I’ve been married six years now, I’m a stay-at-home-mom and I have an amazing husband and children. For a while, I was getting stuck – I hadn’t lost baby weight, I felt all of these self-imposed pressures and expectations. I started to hate running because it became another stressor (instead of stress-reliever).

    When I started to see what running had become for me, I realized that I wanted my “old” running back. The one that made me happy. And, so, I’ve kind of tweaked my mentality. I’m not comparing myself to others. I’m remembering the joy that it is to get out there, and feel my legs burn, to get out of breath, to feel alive. I blast my music, I sing aloud, I trail run, I have fun. And I’ve fallen in love with running all over again–even here in PHX…where it is hot!

    Anyway–long comment, but I loved this post!

    1. You are wonderful. Thank you for opening up and sharing all of that. Your comment made me realize that is is writing posts & receiving replies like this one that made me want to start a blog to begin with. I can SO relate to running becoming another “stressor instead of stress-reliever”. Isn’t it funny how hard we can be on ourselves? I am glad that you realized the direction running was headed for you and were able to change your mentality to enjoy running again. Keep on running, enjoying life, and sharing your beautiful story! XO

  3. I loooooove this post. It gave me chills when I read about you running around that dirt lot behind your house. I can so empathize with running because…you have to to stay sane.

    My reasons for running have definitely changed as time has gone on (although it’s funny because I’ve only been running for less than a year). Now I really love it, and I would do it even if I HADN’T signed up for a race. Still, there is absolutely nothing better than going for a long run when it feels like everything else in your life has gone to hell. Those are usually my best runs. And the fact that running somehow saves me from those moments, and saves me from myself is why I feel so devoted to it.

    1. Amy! Thanks for reading as always! I totally agree… some of the worst days can be made better by running. I read a quote one time that said something to the effect of ‘The days that you feel like running the least are the days your heart & head need it the most”…. something like that 😉 I hope your IT band is feeling much better.

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