This time of social distancing has been tough on all of us. Many of us use running as a way for social interaction, and I’m no different. The greatest thing that this sport has given me are the relationships that I’ve built along the way. This time away from others has given me a lot of time to think about and answer the question of why I run. My journey to answering this question has been years in the making and I’ve learned so much about myself and the sport through this experience.
My journey into this sport started back in my Middle School days when I joined the Track & Field team to hang out with friends. I’ve always been a super competitive individual in all aspects of my life, so it was easy for me to channel my competitive spirit to a sport that I really didn’t understand. At this point in my life the sport seemed so simple (which in some sense it still is). Running was just a foot race between all those that stepped to the line. I hated to lose, more than I loved to win, so my desire to cross that finish line first was mainly driven by fear. Fear of failure. It turned out that I had a natural affinity for the sport and saw success fairly quickly. The combination of having success and my fear of failure drove me for many years. I was able to accomplish a lot of great things along the way and meet some unbelievable people.
Running is full of ups and downs and my college career was a great example of that. Overall, I’m proud of what I accomplished and overcame, but looking back I wish I had known the things that I know now. I wish I enjoyed the sport for the simplicity of it and the things that it gave me. Instead I was only worried about the results. I was worried if I would run a PR, score at the conference meet, qualify for the regional meet, and most of all make those around me proud. Again I was stuck in the fear of failure mindset and let me tell you, I did a lot of failing. At the time I was devastated, but now I’m grateful.
I had 11 years of running in fear without understanding why I ran. It took me hitting rock bottom with regards to my love for the sport and for myself to finally realize something needed to change. Yeah, maybe I’m not as fit as I once was (the roller coaster of time on/off due to injury and excitement about the sport will do that to a person), but that doesn’t matter to me. What’s important is that I wake up every day not thinking what I have to do with regards to training, and instead think about what I get to do. Changing my perspective and focusing on the why has helped to reignite my excitement for the sport.
So, now I can finally get to why I run. First, as the competitive person that I am I love the process of preparing for competition. I enjoy the fitness journey one goes through and the changes you see week to week and month to month by continually putting in the work day to day. I love the butterflies you get when walking to the start line. I love looking up in the stands or crowd to find the ones I love and see them looking back at me in support. I love the battle between competitors to see how far we can push our bodies and our minds.
I run to learn more about myself. When I’m out on a run, during a workout, or a race I enjoy seeing how far I can push not only my body, but my mind. Each run, race, or workout, is a new opportunity to learn a little bit more about myself. To learn about my resiliency, determination, passion, and drive. It helps me determine my strengths and weaknesses, so that I can work on those things to make myself a better runner, father, husband, brother, son, friend, and overall person.
To build off this, I run to reflect on life. I do my best thinking and problem solving when I’m out on a run. It’s amazing how quickly a 2 hour run can go by when you are having an inner dialogue and problem solving some of life’s greatest challenges. I enjoy that time out in nature when I’m able to truly focus without distraction.
I run because I know that this sport will always be here for me; it’s never ending. At times I have felt so alone in running, but I now know that I always had the sport to count on. I know that I can always go out for a run when I need some time to think and reflect. When I need time to decompress after a long day and blow off some steam. I know that this sport is always honest. It will let you know exactly where you’re at, even when you don’t want to know. The sport of running is a lot like life.
Most of all, I run so that I can learn as much about this mysterious sport and myself in order to help inspire others to be the best version of themselves. I love to share all the experiences that I’ve had in this sport to better those around me. To help people find true happiness in the sport that has given me so much. To take the things we have learned through our successes and failures in running and apply those to life, so that together we can make a better tomorrow.
Why do you run?