I originally published this post back in 2015, before the injury I struggled with for over a year. In rereading my 2015 post, I realized that while it still rings true, my perspective has changed a bit, and I felt that it needed updated.
Why do you run so much? Ask my students, my family, my friends. I shrug and give the simple answer: I run so much because I love it.
But my true reasons for running are deeper, and many. When people ask that question, they don’t really want my entire answer. But if they did, here’s what I’d say:
I run so much because I love it. I love the challenge of a hard training run or race: the fire in my legs, the ache in my lungs, the bile in my throat, all telling me that I’m giving it my all, that no matter the outcome, when the run is over and I collapse, I can be satisfied, knowing that I stretched my limits as far as I could.
I love the euphoria following a win, and in a strange way, I love the despair following a loss — because it’s the losses that teach me, that make me analyze my weaknesses, that inspire me to work harder and come back fitter, stronger, faster than before.
I love the hard efforts, especially after an injured hamstring kept me running easy for months. But in some ways, that injury made me appreciate the easy runs even more. After being sidelined for weeks, running at all, no matter how slowly or sporadically, felt like meeting an old friend — the kind of friend who loves you and accepts you no matter how long you’ve been apart or how much has changed. While healthy, I’d taken for granted the easy runs, but returning from injury reminded me that nothing brings me peace like the serenity of a quiet early-morning run, bathed by the light of the rising sun, serenaded by the first birds of morning. Evening runs are special, too: the day’s stress melts away with the sweat, and as the miles tick away, my mental storm clouds clear. Running helps me put my world in perspective. In both a figurative and the most literal sense, running keeps me grounded.
I love the places running has taken me, from literal places — exploring a new city while travelling or moving, discovering trail running and the beauty it brings — to mental journeys — pushing through a hard race to hit a once-impossible PR, slogging through crummy weather.
Running has always been my alone time, my chance to regroup and calm the chatter in my head. But running also gives me a social outlet, a chance to meet similar-minded friends, a way to connect without my usual awkward shyness. Running helped me meet people after we moved. It connects me with trail runners more experienced than I. And running brought me a sisterhood in the form of the Skirt Sports community. The solo runs are wonderful, but I’ve learned that running with others creates a bond unlike any other.
It doesn’t matter if I’m running trails — the mountains, the streams, the wildlife, the uneven terrain keeping me from obsessing about pace and holding me in the moment — or if I’m running roads — the pavement pressing against my feet, my lungs burning, the miles passing faster and faster– or even if I’m running on the treadmill, zoning out to mindless television and playing mental games. Wherever I am, running is my happy place, my stress-relief, my alone time, my friend-maker, my self-awareness enhancer. And I love it.
That is why I run so much.