When I’m running, I have plenty of time to think about WHY I run. The reasons can be very specific (i.e., “I just ate a row of Girl Scout cookies and need to burn them off!”) or pretty vague (i.e, “I’m feeling kind of bummed out, not sure why. I’ll go for a run.”) But, during one recent run, I realized that my reasons for running basically fall into three general categories.
1. SANITY: This is a big one for me. Running keeps me from losing my mind on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. If I’m dealing with a difficult or stressful situation, when I go for a run, I feel like I’m pressing the “reset” button. Running helps me clear my mind, problem-solve without getting too emotional, and put things into perspective. What felt like an insurmountable problem somehow just doesn’t seem like a big deal after a run.
I always say that running makes me an easier person to live with. And I know that my husband and kids would agree. On the days that I run, I feel more peaceful and little annoying things just don’t bother me. I have more energy for my kids and I’m much more patient with them.
I know I’m not alone here. I frequently talk to other runners about how running keeps us sane. Recently, I saw a runner wearing a “Running is My Therapy” shirt. “Yes,” I told my friend I was running with. “I need that shirt.” She nodded her head in agreement.
2. VANITY: Wanting to look and feel healthy is definitely one of my main motivations for running. I love food, but I don’t want to gain weight and I want my clothes to fit. I want to be a healthy role model for my kids. And, yes, I do like that my arms are more toned and my butt looks better in jeans when I’m running consistently.
3. HUMANITY: I guess I could say “Community” here, but I like that Humanity rhymes with Sanity and Vanity. What I basically mean is, People! The sense of community among runners first attracted me to running and it continues to be one of the reasons I’m so passionate about the sport. I’ve met some of the most caring, kindest, most generous, and inspiring people through running. That’s not to say that all people who run are like that or to assume that people who don’t run are not kind or generous. But running attracts a lot of good, courageous, and inspiring people. As one of my running idols, Kathrine Switzer once said, “”If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”
I love helping people and running has given me plenty of opportunities to help others, whether it’s coaching runners, volunteering at a race, fundraising for a race, or writing articles and training schedules. The “pay it forward” vibe is strong among runners. So I’m grateful to running for allowing me to see the best in people, and inspiring me to be my best self.