Why I Run
Arvay's most recent post How I Run started me thinking about WHY I run.
Unlike Arvay, I do not run purely for joy. On occasion, it's joyful. And those episodes are wonderful. They definitely hold a special place in my heart and form some of the motivation for heading out the door.
But often, especially now, when I'm pushing the limits of my fitness, running is not joyful at all for me. Instead it's difficult, challenging, and makes me question whether I want to do it at all.
Take last night's strength intervals, for example. The schedule called for 4X2400 at 10 seconds faster than race pace. When I showed up at the track, my legs were tight. I was tired and my running buddy was tired too. We pushed through the first two at 8:13/mile and 8:17/mile, but I couldn't motivate to do the last two. I was fairly certain they would take more out of me than I would get back in terms of fitness (my hamstrings were extra tight and my gait just felt wrong). So, we just just jogged the last 3 miles and called it a day.
If I ran purely for joy, I'm not sure I would have ran at all yesterday. I'm certain I wouldn't have finished the last 3 miles. But, I run for so many other reasons beside joy, too.
I run for discipline. Setting a goal and working towards it in a predictable step-wise fashion reminds me on a daily basis that I can do anything I choose, it's just a matter of follow-through. It also reminds me to be mindful about what I choose, because the follow-through can be time consuming, exhausting, painful, and take time away from other passions in my life.
I run to stay (or get) in shape. I love feeling like I'm taking care of my body. And, I like the way I look and clothes fit when I'm in better shape, too.
I run to stay sane. This is probably the biggest reason I run. I don't have to be on a training plan to run, but one of the biggest benefits of a training plan is that a good one demands enough of me physically that my emotional responses are damped. I have found that I am less prone to anxiety, anger, frustration, and other negative emotional responses when I run. This makes me happier, and a better wife and friend.
Essentially, I run because I feel it makes me a better person.