In a roundabout way, somebody asked me on Twitter why I bother running when it seems like I haven’t been able to for quite some time and when I am, it hurts. Good question.
A short, easy answer? I’m naturally competitive and I love the adrenaline rush of a good run.
Somehow I don’t think the short, easy answer is what people who ask that question are looking for.
I like knowing that in September of 2012, I ran my first half marathon. It was hard, painful, and downright ugly. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it sucked, but the feeling of finishing brought me to tears.
I like knowing that in May of 2013, I ran my second half marathon. I set a lofty goal for myself of dropping to 1:50, which I never thought would happen because it was over :30 faster/mile. I finished in under 1:43, a 15 minute PR for a 13 mile race. You do the math.
I like looking back at my training for my first half marathon and laughing at how pitiful it really was. Now, I like looking back at my training for my second half marathon and laughing that I barely hit 25 miles per week at my peak week, when most weeks were 20 miles or less.
I like to imagine the places I can continue to go.
Yes, improvements can be made in plenty of other aspects of exercise.
I could start body building and be happy when I can bench press an extra few reps week after week.
I could start cycling and feel accomplished when I hit a new high on the wattage.
I could start swimming and be happy when I finally learn how many laps equals a mile.
These are all things to be proud of (and I still would be, especially that swimming one) but for me, it just isn’t my thing.
Nothing will compare to setting out on a cold weekend morning when the world is still sleeping and returning to your warm home and find that the world is still sleeping.
There is nothing like tackling a trail that seemed impossible a month ago, but this time feels effortless.
Finishing in the top of your age group, even if the race is tiny and non-competitive, never gets old.
And the first time you run further than you’ve ever run before makes you want to tell everyone, even if “everyone” doesn’t care.
I don’t run to maintain my weight. I don’t run to improve my health. I don’t run so I can “eat whatever I want”. I don’t run because it doesn’t involve any real equipment or gym membership. I don’t run because somebody else does. I run because quite simply, I effing love it, even when I hate it.
I spend an hour every week in physical therapy, have spent hundreds of dollars attending physical therapy between gas and co-payments, and deal with aches, pains, and doctors visits when things are awry because running is a part of me. You can tell me I’m hurting my joints; I’m wasting hours that could be spent elsewhere; I’m spending money that could be put towards some other ridiculous purchase. It doesn’t matter.
I have one life to live. I choose to spend it doing something I love.
I can only hope everyone else finds that “something” to love which makes them tick, too.