A question that I’m asked often is “Why do you run?” It’s kind of a hard question for me to answer. I know why I started running. I enjoy it most of the time. I like how it makes me feel and I like that it allows me to eat chocolate every day without gaining a ton of weight. That’s not really why though. I mean.. It isn’t something that feels good all the time, in fact it often makes me hobble around the house like an old lady. It even makes me miserable at times. I think the reason it’s so hard to explain is because I don’t do it for any particular reason, I just do it for me.
I feel like I’m a better person when I’m consistently running. I feel like I’m better equipped to handle all of the crazy and wonderful things that life throws my way. I know I’m a better wife and a better mom. I’m more patient and have a lot more energy. I could probably get that from any form of working out though, right? It’s not exclusive to running. There’s just something about running that works for me and I’m really struggling to explain it.
It bothers me that I can’t explain it. I want to. I want people to understand why I spend so much time and energy pounding the pavement by myself. Is it selfish? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe it’s more selfish if I don’t do it, because then I don’t have the energy to run around with my kids or the patience to sing “Row Row Row Your Boat” for the ten-thousandth time today.
I’m not always by myself.
With my marathon training starting in just over a month, I figured it was time to really put some thought into why I am doing this. Training is going to take a lot out of me – I’m going to miss out on fun things with my family while I’m out doing long runs, I’m going to hurt, I’m going to wake up early to run and miss out on sleep, I’ll be exhausted. So, why? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I run, especially since I haven’t been running much. It’s not something that I ever thought I’d miss, but I do. I’ve been struggling lately to actually get out the door to log the miles though. I’m tired, it’s hot, the humidity is insane, the house is a mess, the kids want me.. all excuses. None of which are good reasons to bail. I sucked it up and ran a quick two miles last night – it was 91 degrees and terribly humid, but you know what? I survived. Not only did I survive, but I felt incredible (once I cooled off). It left me thinking about why I’ve been bailing on runs lately and why I started running, which led me back to the question.. Why do I run?
1. I run because it is good for me.
My family has a long history of diabetes and heart problems, and the best way to keep myself healthy and manage stress levels is to stay active. Running does that for me. It also keeps me motivated to eat healthy. I pretty much have zero desire to eat crap when I know I have a long run coming up, I definitely do not want to be stuck miles from home with an angry belly. That’s not to say that I have a perfect diet, not by a long shot (hello daily chocolate indulgences!), but it definitely helps me keep things in check. I want to eat things that will fuel me and help me perform better, not things that are going to make me miserable. Keeping myself healthy means I’ll be around longer and I’ll get to watch my babies grow up, and I’ll get to watch their babies grow up. I want to be here for that.
Seeing them at the finish line cheering? Best feeling ever.
2. I run because people said I couldn’t or shouldn’t.
Maybe I should mention that I’m stubborn? If you tell me that I can’t do something, or that I shouldn’t, then it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m going to do it (not just to prove you wrong, but that sure is a nice perk). I’ve heard all of the same stories about how running is so hard on your body and how I’m ruining my hips and knees. I’ve had “friends” tell me that only crazy people run marathons. (The same “friends” told me that only crazy people give birth without epidurals, but I did that too. Twice.) I don’t understand why people feel the need to say these things. Why can’t we support one another and cheer each other on instead of telling people we care about that they can’t do something? I don’t get it.
Finishing 13.1 in the pouring rain and loving every second of it, especially since it was a huge PR!
3. I run to inspire others.
This one came to me as a surprise, but it’s been one of the most wonderful things to come from my running. I inspire people. Do you know how incredible that feels? I was floored the first time one of my friends told me that I inspired him to start running. Since then, I’ve had a handful of people tell me that they decided to start because I showed them that they could. That makes me feel so good, you have no idea. I’ve had even more people ask me for advice on how to start running and for training tips. I love when people ask me questions about how I got started, about my training, races I’ve run.. I love talking about it, I love sharing my experience. I love that I’ve inspired people, especially people that I care about.
Crossing the finish line with amazing friends.
4. I run for my family.
This is a big one. My family is the most important thing to me. They inspire me, they motivate me, and they are my biggest cheerleaders. I know that no matter what crazy idea I come up with, they are going to support me. I love walking in the door and hearing Braden say “hey mommy, how was your run?” (Which is usually followed by “eww, don’t hug me, you stink!”) Seeing them along a race course, having them ask how my training is going, knowing that they are just as proud of my PR as I am — it’s an incredible feeling. They sacrifice so that I can do something I love and they are a HUGE part of the reason why I do it. Running makes me a better person, which in turn makes me a better wife, mama, sister, daughter, niece.. you get the idea. I’m a heck of a lot more patient and a lot less cranky and stressed. We can all benefit from a less cranky Kristin, that’s for sure.
Even more than my family though, I run for my kids. I want them to grow up in a family that values making healthy choices. I want them to see me working hard to achieve my goals. I want them to learn to love being active and fit. I want them to see that exercise, in whatever form you choose, can be fun. I want them to feel the incredible rush that you get when reach your goal after months of hard work. I want them to be happy and the best way I know to ensure that happens is to be a good role model for them.
Seeing them was almost better than knowing I was almost to the finish line. Almost.
5. I run for me.
Running keeps me sane. When I’m stressed, overwhelmed, upset, frustrated, angry, happy, sad.. I go for a run. It allows me to blow off steam, clear my head, think things through, and to see things more clearly. Running challenges me, and Lord knows I love a good challenge. I push myself with every run – to go a further distance, to run at a slightly faster pace, to tackle a hill without slowing down. I crave the endorphin rush and I absolutely can’t get enough of the feeling of accomplishment I get from it. I’ve gone from hating to run and being miserable with every step to the crazy girl smiling for the race photographers, simply because she’s having fun. Running pushes me to be a better me.
I guess what it all boils down to, is that running makes me happy. Just like other things in life, there are struggles that go along with it, but the struggles make the good times that much better.
Why do you run?