It’s a question I get a lot whenever I tell people I’m a runner. Which honestly isn’t exactly often, partially because of this question.
It can be kind of hard to explain to someone who’s already made up their mind about running. “Running sucks.” “Running is painful.” “Running is boring.” “I could never run that far.” Statements like these often follow that particular question.
It’s hard to convince people that you quickly grow to embrace the discomfort. That sometimes you get excited when you start feeling that burning in your legs. Some days you gladly welcome the shortness of breath and the pounding of your heart. Sometimes you even chase the pain and discomfort that some people are so afraid of. Because pushing your body and testing your limits feels good!
How do you adequately describe to someone the absolute joy and freedom that running brings? That just like in life, it’s often the smallest things that make it so great; how quite and peaceful it is while running through the falling snow, splashing through puddles after a rainstorm, watching the sunrise at 5 o’clock in the morning, the rhythmic sound of your feet hitting the pavement.
It’s not easy to articulate that the big wins, PR’s, and successful runs, training cycles, and races are great, but that the big losses are good too. Not that they always feel that way in the moment, but when you look back on them days, weeks, months, or years later it seems like you always realize that you learned an important lesson from that big loss.
Over the years I’ve learned that running is good for your body, your mind, and your soul. I’m not sure any other form of movement or exercise program can be as fulfilling and painful and beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing and pure and I could literally go on and on, as running is. But I’ve found that it can be hard to explain that to the people who’ve already made up their minds on running. And that’s fine.
I think running is almost like a religion in that way; people don’t want it shoved down their throats, especially by the people who are highly devoted to it. So I’ve taken a similar stance on running as I do with religion and politics and other sometimes hard to talk about subjects, I just won’t talk about it unless you ask me. Because I’m not about to try to change someone’s mind on anything. I just don’t have that kind of energy in my life.
So when I do get asked “why running?” I usually just respond with a smile and a quick “because I think it’s fun.”. Because a lot of people just don’t get it or already have their minds made up about it and that’s alright! Because I’m just going to keep on running.