Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Why I Love Running: It's All On Me.

The other day, while brushing my teeth and having deep thoughts (obviously), I was reflecting on why I love running. Ricardo had shared a great post he wrote on why he runs, and he encouraged me to post something similar, while Run Chat is collecting posts that share the love of running. Sometimes the question isn't even why I love running, it's why I run at all, since not every run is good and when you have a string of bad runs you're left doubting the entire sport.

So... why do I run? Because it's all on me.

There are few things outside of athletic pursuits that are 99% dependent on ourselves and the effort we put in. I worked really hard my first year of law school, knowing how important getting good grades was to getting a job. But ultimately, how you do on an exam is up to a professor with a pen reading the gibberish you typed out on a timed 3-4 hour exam. What she tests on isn't in your control.

In work, too, there's a certain lack of control. Sometimes your supervisors just don't like you. You can bust your ass but the partner says they don't like your writing style because you used Oxford commas (this is a legitimate point of contention for lawyers -- to use the Oxford comma or not??).

Not when you run. When I run, it's on me. Sure, I might have a stomach ache that I can't control or I might pull a muscle, but still, it's all my body.

Running is about my mind moving in sync with my body to power myself up hills and around corners.

Running is about pushing myself and seeing how much I am truly capable of, without any external limitations.

Running is a test of my strength and resolve -- how strong is my body? How tough is my mind?

When I have a bad run, sure, it sucks. It isn't pleasant. But a lot of life isn't pleasant, right? Even those who love their jobs aren't happy 100% of the time. So much of our lives are determined by how we manage the parts that aren't great.

For every hard run that I don't give up on, for every 400m speed interval that I sprint with burning thighs, I am teaching myself to get over the shitty parts of life, and I'm doing it when I have no one to blame but myself. It's on me to be my best.

And every time that I am my best, it shows me how strong I am. I learn how much I am capable of. In 2011, if you had told me that I could run 13 miles, I would have laughed at you. I would have laughed at the idea of my body being capable of that. But running has taught me that I am capable of that, and (I'm guessing) so much more.

Running has taught me is that there is always a reward for pushing myself, even if it isn't a shiny new personal record. There is a personal satisfaction in knowing I did my best in anything. I now carry that with me to the areas of my life that aren't as much in my control, like work or certain relationships.

I love running because it teaches me about me. I love running because it inspires me to be my best self, a "best" I am constantly rediscovering.

Why do you run? And, if you don't run, is there anything you love because it's helped you push yourself?

I created a Facebook page for the blog! I'd love for you to like it and let me know what kinds of things you'd like to see on the blog more :)


  1. First, I would like to say I always use Oxford/serial commas. Without it, the reader gets the impression that the coordinating conjunctions items are closely related, which is only sometimes the case. (Writing and Rhetoric major right here, clearly!)

    Anyway ... I love this post, Jen. It's tough for me to relinquish control (type-A, so guilty!), so when something it giving me trouble in life, I always lace up and hit the pavement; running acts as therapy or me-time, and it helps me work through any stresses or issues. Not to mention it's so much fun!

    1. YES! Thank you! The Oxford comma is essential. I think this graphic best illustrates the importance of the Oxford comma:

      Running is really therapeutic for me, too. Whenever I'm feeling down, I hit the pavement or trail and by the end I feel better.

  2. Running is my therapy. If I can't run during the day my family will tell you I am a monster. It's my happy place :)

    And yay for FB! Also I may have a secret love affair with that blue top of yours. Deff digging that color. Where is it from? And your face is so intense. In a relaxed way. I dig. Some people make the weirdest faces while running... I have a hobby of "people watching" runners and their faces. So I am in hog heaven at races hahaha

    1. It's from Lululemon! It's their Run:Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve top. I REALLY love it and have worn it in multiple races.

      And there's a reason I use that photo so much haha. It's like my best race/run picture ever.

  3. I agree with you that I love that running is only dependent on me. It is so opposite of figure skating which I did before. While I loved it, it is so full of politics and judges and all that garbage. I guess it is more like the real world. I love that in running it is just you against the clock which is completely unbiased.

    1. I used to do TaeKwonDo and for the form competition, it was SO subjective. I can only imagine what figure skating must be like... I love that running has no judges and how you do is purely up to you.

  4. Running is my me time. Alone with my thoughts and working toward my own personal goals. Too often in life we are focused on outcomes in how they relate to others and as you said are often uncontrollable (ex. dealing with a boss you will just never please no matter what).

    In running it is on me 100% - when I don't want to run am busy or tired, it just takes one second to think about my goals I have set and know that if I don't do that run, my goal will be that much harder to reach. That usually gets me up and running. I actually can't think of a time in recent history that I skipped a run or made an excuse.

    And the sense of can't bottle up and buy that feeling.

    1. Maybe we can work on bottling that feeling and become millionaires ;)

      I will switch runs around in my training plan but I've gotten a lot better about thinking about what I care more about -- chilling on the couch or meeting my goals. If I need a rest day, I take it, but if it's pure laziness then I feel responsible for getting up and out :)

  5. Great seeing you tonight! I can't wait to hear about cardio. I love running because it is so accessible. I love having a goal to work toward with running. I also really hate running because it's hard, but I guess that's why it's so satisfying.

    1. Good to see you, too, Melissa!! Really enjoyed Cardio and will post about it tomorrow.

      And honestly, there are few exercise classes as tough as that first mile. It is always a killer for me!