06 September 2014

Running: Why I Run

In late 2009 and early 2010, I experienced a series of difficult losses that led to me being depressed in the summer of 2010.

One morning, I was lying in my bed, staring at the ceiling. Eventually, I said to myself, "I need to move or I'll never get up from this bed." Later that day, in the evening, I walked around my neighbourhood to figure out a route for running. The next morning I went for a run. I probably did barely 4km, and when I finished, out of breath and my legs heavy, I thought, "This is why I hate running!"

Yet I kept at it, and I steadily came to appreciate how good I felt after a run, like getting a natural high.

Running is now an essential part of my life. While I may not say anything truly new here, these are the reasons why I run:

1. Constant, tangible improvement and achievements. I remember the first time I ran 10km and the sense of accomplishment I felt. Whether it's going farther or faster than I've gone before, running always gives me the chance to do more, to get better, to meet new goals. You've run your first marathon? Okay, let's see if you can go faster for the next one! As well, there's always more to learn about running, from shoes to crosstraining to gear to technique to diet and so on.

2. It's my meditation time. When I'm out running on my own in the morning before the city becomes busy, I get to quiet my mind and focus just on my breathing and my pace and my body, while enjoying the sunrise or a misty fog along the lake or the crisp cool of the autumn. Running is me time, without headphones and music. Just me and the world and the sound of my shoes on the pavement.

First pair of shoes for marathon training.
3. The running community. In my first race, the Sporting Life 10k, the energy and eagerness in the starting corral was infectious. One of my favourite parts of races now is being in the corral surrounded by other runners, all of us there to challenge ourselves, excited by anticipation, ready to put all our training to work. To train for my marathon in October 2013, I joined the running group at The Runners Shop on the recommendation of a friend, and that has been one of the best decisions of my life. The running community is incredibly motivating, inclusive, optimistic, generous, and understanding. I am grateful and fortunate to be part of it (especially on those Sunday long runs in the muggy summer heat or biting winter cold).

4. My physical and psychological health. Simply, I love the way running makes me feel physically, even when it's tiring and gruelling. (Although, of course, running isn't too much fun when I'm injured.) I love the way it affects my mood, my state of mind. About six weeks into training for my first marathon last summer, I realised one day how "up" I felt -- stronger, more confident, more awake to everything, eager to face each day. Running is life-affirming. It's a way of life. It is even a metaphor for life.

5. Runners are funny, wonderfully quirky people. We're good at laughing at ourselves. As shown here and here.

Every runner has a story about how they started running. What's yours? Why do you run?

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