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?
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