Yesterday a colleague of mine asked me why I run. Not why I am training for a marathon, but why I run. This is a question that most runners ask themselves at some point. I, like everyone, have lots of reasons for running.
Growing up I ran because I played sports that involved running. Then in college, I ran (a lot less) to exercise, and many times I resented it or didn’t do it at all. After college I started running more again, and it has since become a lot more than exercise.
It wasn’t even until post-college that I even considered myself a runner. I am sure if you asked some of my friends or family they would say I have always been running, which is true, but I didn’t really think of myself as a runner.
Now, however, I do use the word runner to describe myself. There have been times when my mind gets clouded with thoughts of being “too slow” or “not yet a marathoner” to be a real runner, but we all know that’s a load of crap. Running isn’t defined by those things. I run in whatever weather I have to face, no matter how early I have to get up, at whatever distance I have planned, because there is no other option. Obviously a lot of this has to do with the fact that I am training for a marathon, and I don’t know how I will feel when it’s over, but I know I won’t stop running.
And like I said before, I run for lots of reasons. I run because I like the challenge. I like to accomplish goals. I like the way I feel when I get home after a run. I run to stay fit, but now I find that I also stay fit to run. I run to clear my head. To think about everything. To think about nothing.
Mainly, though, I run because it’s a very quantifiable way make myself better. I don’t have a lot of things figured out at this point in my life. I don’t really know what I want my career to be, I don’t know who I will end up with, I don’t even know where I want to live. But I know this: If I go out for a run, I can be in complete control of making myself better. I can push myself to run a new distance or to reach a new speed. While I sometimes feel out of control of other things going on in my life, I know for certain that I can be in charge of running. I will get better, because I know I will push myself to.
Of course, it’s not always that easy. There are tons of set backs. Like this morning, I set out to run 5 miles, which is not very long for me at this point. Even though I got it done just fine, it was surprisingly hard. My legs felt like lead, which is most likely due to the taper (I hope), but it was not exactly encouraging. The park was warm but foggy, making it beautiful and eerie.
Setbacks included, I like to have something in my life that I can consistently improve. Although, we will see how things go on November 20th, because I may have a whole new perspective on this running thing.