When Running Is Your Reason

Have you followed the Olympics? Specifically the grimaces on the faces of the female sprinters as they raced around the track toward the finish line? Doesn’t it make you wonder: why run?

The reasons for running are as vast and varied as the paths, trails and rough terrain that runners pound for miles on end. For weight loss, to conquer 5k’s or halfs, to qualify for full marathon’s or run ultra-marathon. Runners risk heat exhaustion to run; endure frosty temps to run; suffer injuries and lose sleep to run. We run for breast cancer, for the loss of loved ones, for genetic diseases. The common denominator connecting all of these reasons flows deeper than any of those reasons. Runners have to run – for the sheer joy of running.

I discovered those feelings way before I started running. It’s the reason I always wanted to run – years after my father tried getting my sister and me into running with him in the mornings. I didn’t appreciate it then. It was the intense grimace on the sprinter’s faces during their Olympic runs. It felt like a chore, with no gold or bronze promise at the end; only the cabbage and orange juice drink Dad would process for us.

When I finally began to appreciate what running could mean to my life I had already gained 35 pounds and according to the physical assessment that I got from Lynn Bricks, my health age was over five years older than my actual age. Not cool! But I didn’t see running as the answer to my weight issues at that time. Running was hard. I’m not even sure you could call the little 3 minute intervals that I ran, jogging. I despised how flabby and out-of-shape I felt and how my heart pounded for such a short amount of effort. All I felt was the grimace.

I couldn’t count on any feelings of euphoria back then to endear me to running. I had to handle the physical pressure run by run. I made my mind focus on something else: routine. Three mornings a week after I finished my 12-hour shift at the hospital, I headed over to Lynn Brick’s and worked out for an hour. Eventually, I stopped feeling the grimace and embraced the euphoria of running.

It’s what I feel on the inside that keeps me running. The energy, the power, the dedication and determination to keep my legs pumping past my exhaustion, past my need to stop that I’ve talked myself into, past my embarrassment to run where people could see me run.

I run now because I have to; because I’m not complete if I don’t.

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