I was asked why I run….
“Why do I run?”…pause for more than a few seconds…all I could answer with was a big fat “I DON’T KNOW.” Given the fact that I run more days out of the week than not, my answer was followed by a blank stare back at me.
I got to thinking. Why do I run? Why do I lace up my sneakers? Why do I drink more than my fair share of water, pump my body with goo/gummies and prep myself throughout the day for that day’s jaunt?
I ran track (kind of) in elementary school, played every competitive sport from my wee days till present and even played lacrosse all through high school and at a Division II college. All of those activities and sports required some type of running, either to get into shape, stay in shape or for the sport itself. It’s safe to say that I’ve been “running” since I was a young whipper-snapper!
With every previous training step, my brain convinced itself (and me) that I was not, am not, a runner. I’m not built like a runner (5 foot, short and thick as my little brother would like to say), I don’t act like a runner…and here’s the best part of it all…I DON’T LIKE RUNNING. So to call me a runner is like calling a hockey player a figure skater. I’m dense, accident prone and far too involved with analyzing everyday details (for anyone who is a “thinker” during their runs, you can appreciate the copious amount of time you have to think and over think) to be crowned a real and serious runner. I ski raced my whole life (hence the dense comment), I max my stride out at shuffle distance (hence the short comment) and feel the need to push myself at all the times, which leads to multiple injuries and strains (hence the prone comment)…so yes, by definition, not a runner; I DON’T LIKE RUNNING. I may be beating this one into the ground, but I want to make sure I paint the picture, the hill I climb every time I get ready for a run or race, the amount of self-motivation and convincing I must do to “get out there.” I’m beyond capable of talking myself out of it, out of training or running. The devil/angel on your shoulder concept fails to apply to me. My little devil stomps on my angel at every opportunity. “Sure, let’s go get some ice cream!”…”Nah you don’t need to do 10 miles today, 8 is MORE THAN ENOUGH GIRL”… “Well you’re iPod has not been updated in weeks so let’s just take care of that first”…”Your legs tired? They look tired…they’re tired…no running today.” All wonderfully distracting and conclusive excuses to hunker down and not go running, thus canceling my cute and productive shoulder-angel’s suggestions or advice; she never had a chance!
I’ve run inside, outside, on trails, on treadmills (thank you teammate Mike Paquette for my toy!), around a track, up and down mountains, around a lake, in the rain, in the snow, at night, way too early in the morning, in spring, summer, fall and winter, in different countries, extreme heat, while overweight, while in the best shape of my life, with music, without music…I think you get the point; I’ve run through it all and as many places as I’ve physically been in my 28 years of running, it still stands…I DON’T LIKE RUNNING.
But still, I run.
I bring us back to the original question, “Why do you run?”
I run for and because of the feelings after I finish the run! I run to accomplish something. I run to find strength and empowerment. I run to realize I can do something I didn’t want to or thought I couldn’t (shoulder devil). I run to challenge myself. I run to stay in shape. I run to eat. I run. I run for the feelings after I finish the run!!
This answer is so very different and perhaps bamboozled for any and of all of us “runners.” From the elites to the never-evers, we find ourselves out there pushing and stepping one more step when our shoulder devil tries to murk the waters and distract us from our motivation to be out there. Anyone can run…I’m a preacher of that these days because I never thought I would run the races I have thus far, let alone sign up for Reach the Beach Relay (200 miler)! I am currently trying to convince someone to run a half marathon with me in October. They keep telling me they are not of the running type, that 13.1 miles is too long and that they’ve never run that far before. My advice, just flick the devil off your shoulder and get out there. Just start…that is all you can do, and before you know it, you will be running…EVEN IF you DON’T LIKE RUNNING! If you have the motivation and drive to want to accomplish something (like a half marathon), then just get out there and start running.
I also think we need to listen to our shoulder-devil. Go ahead, fill up that ice cream bowl, change your iPod running mix instead of training, ice your legs, go shopping, snuggle under the covers with a good movie or whatever excuse has been a reason to take a day off. It’s what you do the next day. It’s the decision to run a half a mile longer, set a timing goal, race yourself, push a little bit harder because you can tell that you have a little bit more in your tank which defines who you are and how you take on challenges. Digging deep, whether it’s fun or not in that moment defines and summarizes all of us, runners or not. From one non-runner to you (a runner?)…it’s the days you least want to run that are some of your best runs.
So whether you are or are not a runner, a noun; whether you give yourself the title of a runner, athlete, exercise hound, etc., run if you find something that keeps the road or gravel one step behind you and adventures ahead of you. Keep trying new things and reasons to get out there. Don’t be afraid to listen to your shoulder-devil/angel (they are on your shoulders for a reason)!
To my fellow Reach the Reach teammates, NH State Park Bloggers…I run for you today and NOT because I LIKE RUNNING!
– Jewels, NH State Park Blogger