Why Run?

I follow several fitness and running sites on Facebook, and they often ask why runners run.  It seems that each time they ask, I could give a different answer.  And sometimes I have no idea why I continue to run – those are the days running isn’t going so well.  There are so many reasons to run, or to participate in whatever type of exercise one prefers.  Some reasons are obvious; some are pleasantly surprising.  Since running is my exercise of choice, followed closely by Zumba, I decided to compile a list to not only encourage others to jump in that develop some type of work-out regimine, but also to try to motivate myself to keep on moving.

  • Obviously, running is good for my physical well-being.  It is an excellent cardio workout; it builds muscle; and it increases endurance.  I had proof of this when I had an EKG last year before having surgery.  The technician, upon reading my results, asked if I was a runner.  She said my heartrate is low, which is typical of runners.  Admittedly, I was quite proud that someone could tell I was a runner!
  • Running is excellent for my mental well-being.  I am rarely in a bad mood, and if I am, I can go for a run and return with a whole new outlook.  When I have had a stressful day at school, I know that a run will help relieve my stress.  I feel so refreshed after a run, even if it is just a short run.
  • Running builds confidence.  Knowing that at my age (45) I can run 13.1 miles, helps me believe that I can do anything I put my mind to.  We all suffer from self-doubt at some point, but setting goals and reaching them can encourage a person to press on during those moments of doubt.
  • Running is an efficient way to burn calories.  When I was trying to lose weight a couple years ago, I first tried walking.  I lost nothing.  Once I began to run, I was able to shed those unwanted pounds.  I figure I burn about 100 calories for every mile I run.  If I run an average of 20-25 miles a week, that’s 2000-2500 calories!
  • Running makes me appreciate my surroundings.  We are blessed to live in  a beautiful small town, and often I take that for granted.  When I get out and run, I notice the beauty of our town.  I have watched as Sam repaints the mural on the floodwall; I have enjoyed our greenways; I watch as winter turns to spring and the town seems to come alive.  I get to experience the outdoors during every season when not too long ago I spent much of my time indoors.  I have found that I enjoy each season.  I love running along the Might Ohio River and taking in the vastness of the water.  I smile when I hear students yelling, “Hi, Mrs. Stath!” as I run by their homes, and I hope that my running inspires them to remain active.
  • Running has brought me new friends, and strengthened the relationships I had with old friends.  Runners just understand one another, so we tend to stick together.  We understand the need to run, and how depressing it is when we can’t run.  We don’t mind when our friends are sweaty, smelly, and make-up free.  My running friends don’t get grossed out when I spit; I would never spit in front of my non-running friends.  When we run, we talk about everything, and we know it will never go any further.  We support one another; we push one another; we love one another.
  • Running mirrors life.  We have uphill battles that take every ounce of strength we can muster up, and we have days that we are running downhill and things seem to be going our way.  Some days running is easy and fun; some days it sucks.  There are days I feel amazing after a run, and days I can’t get to the bathroom fast enough.  Life really is a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul if we are lucky.  We have to set goals and work toward making life fulfilling.  I believe that God provides for us and gives us talents and abilities, but I also believe that we have to work our butts off to make those talents and abilities work for us.  Just as I have to constantly work with my abilities at work and in my home, I also have to work with my [limited] abilities when I run.  Running makes me live life better.
  • Running reminds me that I am not always in control.  There are days when I head to town for a run, and I am mentally prepared for a great long run.  Then I start to run, and my body does not cooperate.  My legs feel like I am running in mud, my breathing is labored, and I just can’t run.  While it is completely frustrating, I cannot control it.  Sometimes I can talk my way through those first couple of miles, and sometimes I just have to give in and hope for a better run next time.  We have to accept that not every run – or every day – is going to be perfect, and we have to start fresh the next day.
  • I run because I can.  Sometimes I forget what a blessing it is to be able to run, and then a conversation or a story reminds me that I am extremely fortunate that my legs will carry me through many miles.  Today I had a conversation with a friend whose husband is on the top of the list to receive a lung transplant.  Every day is a struggle.  I am sure that he would give just about anything to be able to get out and walk, let alone run.  Tomorrow when I run, I will be thinking of this couple, and I will appreciate each step I take.

Running has changed my life.  I am healthier, happier, and more productive.  When I begin to question my ability to keep running, someone thanks me for inspiring him or her to run or to get back into running, and I know I can’t give up.  If I can help even one person become healthier, the miles I put in are worth it!  So, why run?  Why not run?

2 responses to “Why Run?”

  1. Joyce,
    A lot of things happened when I read this post. I was not only inspired to at least explore the idea of running, but I was reminded of all the fitness promises I made to myself because of the huge payoff one can get. Your point about seeing the seasons change and seeing someone’s progress towards painting their mural as you run has been the single-most influential thing I have read today. It makes me want to try at least. I am not the definition of fitness and would be considered a beginner. What advice do you have for someone who is starting out?

    • Thank you for your kind words! I have to admit, they came at a good time. I have had a couple of horrible runs this week; I felt as if I were attempting to run through mud and I just could not move. We all need words of inspiration at some point, and while your intent was to let me know I had inspired you, you actually inspired me to keep on going!

      I am by no means a pro, but I can tell you what worked for me. I started out slowly, and I listened to my body. That doesn’t mean to quit when it gets uncomfortable; you have to push through some of those moments. When I started, I hated running, but I loved the sense of accomplishment when I finished a run. As I would run, I would tell myself ‘if it were easy, everyone would do it’. For some reason, that mantra helped. I also found a friend who was starting out, and we pushed each other. When she was having a bad run, I would push (or nag) her, and vice versa. Our first goal was to run 2 miles; we have since run three half marathons! Getting to the first mile is the hardest. After that, adding distance gets easier. I spent many years avoiding exercise with the excuse that I was raising my girls and busy going to school and working. And I hated exercise. Though I was not really overweight, I was out of shape. I would get winded going up stairs, and I knew I needed to do something.

      Set goals. After I could run 2 miles, I set a goal to run a 5K. After that, I was hooked. Having upcoming races gives me incentive to run. I can promise you that if you stick it out, you will experience amazing things. Your body will become strong; you will gain confidence; and you will gain new friends. My husband is also a runner. He is 16 years older than I and has an artificial knee. He is not fast, but let me tell you, he has more perseverence than anyone I know!

      If you have specific questions, email me at joycestath@gmail.com. Read as much as you can about running. Reading a Runner’s World Magazine always gets me excited about running!

      Thanks, again for your comments!

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