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!