It’s taper week. The marathon is Sunday, so that means nothing but rest this week. It is so hard. Seriously, when I’m used to working out and/or running 2 or more hours a day, just a couple of short runs (and I mean, short!) in a week makes me antsy. I just want to get out and move!
I had run the 20 mile training run Saturday morning and then went to work as usual for my Saturday night shift. My coworkers know I’m a runner, and one of them asked me how far I’d run that day. I told her, and her response just made me laugh. “And you do this…why?” she asked. It was like she literally could not fathom someone running 20 miles just for the heck of it.
But I get that. Before I was a runner, I couldn’t fathom anyone…running. Period. For any distance. Least of all just for the heck of it. I mean, if donuts weren’t involved…I thought they were all stark raving crazy because I hated running. But then I discovered RUNNING [fireworks go off while that inspired music plays]. And as the hours tick by to the marathon, I’ve thought a lot about running and why I do it when training has been so tough this time around. So for you, my friend, I run for these reasons:
- Running has connected me with people from my past. I’ve had the privilege of getting reacquainted with a friend from high school because of running. I was incredibly (I mean, incredibly) shy all through elementary and high school, so I really didn’t become close friends with most people in my class of 23 people. Yeah, I went to school in a super small rural town. But through social media and running, I’ve reconnected with a gal I went to school with, and it’s been so fun to share this love of running and get to know her as an adult.
- Running has given me new friends and a social outlet. For over a year now, I’ve run with a group of people almost every single Saturday and sometimes 2 or 3 days during the week. I’ve gotten to know some of them (it’s hard not to when you spend sometimes up to 4 hours with them every week and everyone knows when you have to pee because they all stop at the QT with you), and I count them as friends. We may not have a lot in common, but we have running in common, and that always gives us something to talk about. There’s that shared experience of training for a marathon, of running a certain race, of running up that dreaded hill, of sustaining one of those common runners’ injuries. We get each other, and I love hanging out with them.
- Running constantly challenges me. Running poses nearly limitless challenges. I can always challenge myself to run faster or further. There are races around the country I aspire to run one day. There are new and different ways to experience running such as trail running and barefoot running (both of which I hope to try one of these days). But I run because I like the challenge the sport presents.
- Running keeps me healthy. Whether you like it or not, some type of cardiovascular exercise is needed to keep you in tip top shape. And if losing weight is a goal of yours, cardio exercise has to be part of the plan. Sorry to be so blunt, but that’s the hard truth of the matter. It doesn’t have to be running; it just so happens that I enjoy running. Running helped me lose the weight, and now running helps me maintain my weight. And since I’ve been running, over the last year, my resting heart rate has dropped by about 10 beats per minute. A low resting heart rate (unless you’re on medication that lowers your heart rate) is one of the best indicators of cardiovascular fitness, and I like to see that my heart has become stronger and more efficient at pumping blood because of my physical activity.
- Running is my therapy. Yes, I need therapy. Who doesn’t if we’re honest? The sun on my face, the breeze lifting my hair, the sound of nature, the rhythm of my shoes hitting the pavement, my favorite playlist of songs…a good run just has a way of lifting my spirits. Good hard sprints let me leave my aggression from a crappy day on the track. A nice slow recovery run gives me a chance to just relax and let the stress and tension of the day go. A group run fills up that lonely spot in my soul and energizes me. Running is therapy, and I can’t imagine life without it.
- Running makes me strong. I’m not just talking physical strength. I’m talking mental strength. I used to be one of those people who tends to throw in the towel when the going gets tough. Truthfully, I’m still tempted to just walk away from tough situations, but running has helped to develop mental grit. Running a race, in the heat, up hills is hard when you want a PR. It takes a lot of determination to just keep going through the fatigue and fire in your legs. Running has developed a dog with a bone mentality in me of sorts. I am NOT going to throw away a PR for a hill! It’s shown me that I can do tough things, and that I can survive hard things. Maybe comparing running to tough life situations is simplistic, but when life throws me a curve ball, I find that attitude of wanting to finish what I started take over and push me through.
Whether you’re a runner or not, I’ll bet you’ll find these things to be true of activities that you enjoy as well–swimming, walking, Zumba, yoga, cycling, whatever. I don’t want to be a snob and say that running is the ultimate exercise because it’s not. It’s just what I love best. But the point of the matter is, exercise matters. Moving your body matters. Find something you love, and do it! I’ll bet you’ll have a list similar to this in no time about why you do what you do as well.
Talk to me:
What do you like to do to stay active?
Why do you do what you do?