As you may already know, I am a runner. I’m not the most elite nor am I a novice but I run – quite a lot. Perhaps the most common question I get asked as a runner is “Why do you run?”. Whether the asker is a non-runner who simply can’t understand my motivation to endure the “pain” or a fellow athlete who simply wants to know what inspired me to start and what keeps me going, it is a question that does not have a straight-forward answer. My first response is usually: “it is more fun once you start” which is very true but really does not begin to cover it.
I admit, when I started running, I hated it. My dad and brother dragged me off to junior parkrun – much to my protests. I was in no way a talented runner at first – nor did I ever imagine I would become one. I would walk half-way through and complain about stitches every few seconds. My younger brother, Sam, however, did enjoy it. He used to go out on training runs with my dad and occasionally compete in the “adult parkrun” (5K). Slowly, he started catching up with me in the weekly 2k run (junior parkrun). One week he was only one place behind me. Being the insanely competitive girl I am, I could NOT face the embarrassment of losing to my younger brother. To make sure that didn’t happen, I asked my dad if I could go on runs with him. That same week, we ran every single morning (I was not confident enough to run when it was busy out). We did a simple 3.8k circuit around a nearby park. The following weekend, I broke 9 minutes at junior parkrun. Our daily training runs became an important part of my life. At first, I struggled a lot but gradually became more and more comfortable.
So, technically, I started running to avoid being mercilessly gloated at by my younger sibling. Not the most inspiring story, I agree. But what is really important is what kept me going:
Over a space of four months, my 5k parkrun time went from 29 to 21 minutes and my 2k went from 9:15 to 7:41. During that time, I fell in love with the sport. I was fitter, healthier, happier. Finally, I was good at something that was good for me and I enjoyed. I made so many new connections and lived so many awesome experiences I would never have come across if it weren’t for running.
To tell the truth, there have been times where I have wanted to quit. The added pressure of competing and meeting all these people who have been running for years and are so incredibly talented was – and often still is- a little demoralising * I will make sure to create a post about my struggles with anxiety through running *. But every time I want to give up, I remind myself all the reasons why I run:
Running is not just a sport, it’s a lifestyle. The supposedly simple action has given me so much health and happiness. It has boosted my confidence and my fitness and opened up so many opportunities for me. When I run and push myself, I get the most incredible thrill and – I think any runner can agree – there is no better feeling than finishing a hard run (and no better taste than a post run breakfast). I love the shoes, the stats, the stretching and the challenge. Although I do have a large share of “bad” runs, there is nothing more exciting than finally getting a PB or defeating a rival. But perhaps running isn’t all about times and positions. Perhaps it is about experiences and communities. As I previously mentioned, running has introduced me to so many amazing people and has brought me closer to my family. It has even allowed us to support charities and raise quite an impressive amount of money.
Running does become an addiction and it would seem insane for me to stop now. My life would feel pretty empty without tramping up the hills and round parks. We runner’s are pretty crazy people, but that is what brings us together. Although it can be tough, nothing worth doing is ever easy. I run for the challenge. The achievement. The adventures. The people. The thrill. The triumph. I may not or never be the best but I run because I love it and I hope I continue running for the rest of my life.
So, there you have it, a not so succinct answer to such an important question. I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed writing and I hope this will inspire some of you to start running -if you don’t already; if you do, feel free to tell me why you run as I find it very interesting,