Why Do I Run?!

 

Oh, hey guys!

Long time, no talk (well, actually, long time, no one-sided conversation with myself). And WHOSE fault is that?! Oh, right, mine…

So here’s the scoop. It turns out that when you’re training for a race, working, and desperately attempting to have a life, it’s a challenge to find time to do things like writing in a blog about the aforementioned race training. It became one of those situations where you put something off and then as you keep putting it off for longer and longer, it becomes more and more of a challenge to get back on track.

Here we are, just one week and one day away from my first half marathon, and it’s been weeks since I’ve written. Inspiration simply did not come, no matter how hard I tried to summon it. Not until today, that is.

I was dragging my feet at the idea of going on an ACTUALLY long run, especially because I am on vacation. However, the day of the race loomed overhead, serving as an ominous warning that I’d better keep up my training if I wanted to succeed during my first half marathon. I told my inner dialogue to shut up but still heeded its advice, somewhat motivated by my two cousins, ages 10 & 13, who decided to tag along and act as my entourage.

Before recording my run with Strava, (because if you don’t, it means the run never happened) I was choosing a playlist on Spotify and I selected my go-to for runs, one called “Why the Hell am I Doing This?” (it’s a good motivator). My 13-year-old cousin read the name of the playlist and chuckled, and as we began our run (actually, I was running and my cousins were being wusses and biking), she said “so…why the H-word DO you run?”

In spite of being asked that question many times by others and myself, I never pondered the answer as thoroughly as I did right then. I was momentarily silent, trying to concoct some sort of honest answer, but I came up with nothing. “I’ll let you know around mile four,” I said.

Every step I took, I reflected on my time running over the past years and especially on my recent reconnection with the activity. I thought about how puzzling people found the fact that I ran so much, and participated in so many races, yet spoke about running so negatively about 90% of  the time. I complained almost constantly about the running-associated knee pain. I whined about the boredom induced by a treadmill. My inner self kicked and screamed like a spoiled child when I dragged it on a run almost every day. Yet in spite of all this…I haven’t stopped.

Mile four rolled around and my mind was blank. The “Running Pro/Con List” in my brain was, in reality, a “Con” list. This time it was the 10-year-old who asked me. He slowed down on his bike to wait for me, and asked why I run. I told him that I like getting the T-shirts at the end. I mean, it wasn’t a total lie; I do enjoy the “swag” they give you that feels free but isn’t actually because of the insane cost of registration. So, the thinking cap went right back on.

My goal had been to run 7 miles. It seemed excruciating until about mile 4.5, when I was overcome with this feeling of wellbeing (I know, I know, runner’s high), and I felt like running 7 would be a piece of cake. I was jamming out hard core to the “Why the Hell am I Doing This?” playlist, and suddenly it came to me. It was right there, in that moment, where I was in the zone and doing something honestly challenging for me both mentally and physically that I felt strong. Not just physically, but mentally.

It’s one thing to get myself climbing or mountain biking. I love to do the things about which I am passionate, yet it seems to be even more rewarding to accomplish that which you find truly difficult; that you honestly wonder if you can actually do. For me, that thing is running. When I cross a finish line, I feel epically spent but simultaneously motivated. As I continue to participate in races, I continue to break down barriers and accomplish goals I didn’t even know I had. It’s true that I often wonder why the hell I run, and I’m glad my inspiring little cousin (who’s not so little anymore) planted that seed of thought in my mind. After she did, and after I finished not just 7 miles but over 8 (yeah, I got a little lost), I couldn’t help but feel accomplished and motivated anew.

Now, I know why I run. Either that, or I am experiencing runner’s high big time. Not to mention I had a really rocking playlist for motivation. Either way…half marathon, here I come!

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