As runners we get asked this question more times than we care to remember. Have you ever thought about why you run? A multitude of articles and books have been written about why we run and finding the purpose to run. Read them all if you wish but running is a very personal matter. No one can push you into running, no matter how hard they try to convince you. Even if that person is your mentor in other parts of your life, you have to discover your own love for running – as the saying goes, you can drag a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.
“When your Why is big enough, you will find your How.” This quote is apt. It helps us understand what we do the things we do. If you have a purpose and reason for it, you will find a way and know what to do. I have seen people run in events to fundraise in memory of their loved ones, do activities for a cause and challenge themselves. For some, their purpose for running is so personal or complex that they do not share or make known their reasons.
Others have the simplest of purposes, to be or get fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle through running as a physical activity. For most people this may be the starting purpose but it can morph into something more. We evolve as we get better at something. Our purpose for running also evolves over time.
I’m not old, I can run
I recently met a 75-year old man by the name of Luigi. He started running when he was 53. He had participated in many running events. He rattled off several half marathons, 25 marathons, numerous fun runs and attends many Parkruns as a ‘Parkrun Tourist’. He was explaining how he lives a simple life and watches what he eats but also eats what he likes. No deep fried foods and little alcohol. Plenty of hearty foods that he likes, such as pasta and fruits. His training regime consisted of frequent running and running for as long a duration as he can each time. He strived for a target time and ran to it, when he’s done, he ran some more time but always listened to what his body tells him. He simply listened to his body and did long runs when he can. One hour, two hours, three hours, and he ran. If he woke up not feeling up to running,he didn’t. No guilt. His purpose for running was just to keep fit – essentially I thought he ran to get more life. Whatever excuse you gave yourself for not running, strike that!
For a Cause
People may find that they can support a cause not just by financial means but by doing something and offering their time. They end up volunteering their time for a multitude of things to do such as fundraising dinners, barbecues or cookie sales. For many, their efforts include physical challenges and running is their choice. It is incredibly noble and humbling to have people run for a cause. They join running events and raise money for their charity by encouraging family, friends and acquaintances to support their efforts by donating money.
To achieve a Goal or meet a Challenge
The desire to overcome challenges has been one of the ways people become better. You have a desire to better yourself through the physical challenge of running and so your journey as a runner begins. Others were challenged to run by people they know and they have a point to prove. Alternatively, you may have a point to prove to yourself that you can and you will be able to run. I was told my entire life that I was not born with an athletic body or that I am not a ‘sporty’ kind of person. Running proved them and myself wrong – I had no barriers but a mental one. You may have a Goal of running a specific distance and the way to achieve that is to do run training. Thus you’d follow a plan to run.
Getting fit or losing weight
Undoubtedly the expenditure of energy through your running efforts will help you to get fit and lose weight. This happens when your food consumption (that is, calories) is less than what you expend in energy. You train and run to ensure the loss of weight or increase in stamina and fitness. The running coupled with proper nutrition will help serve this weight loss and fitness purpose. Food must be nourishing and healthy – it cannot be just any food.
Improve your state of mind and relieve Stress
When your performs the physical activity of running, it calls on your body to generate all sorts of physiological processes. These include increases in chemical and hormonal changes. Various hormones work to buffer as well as boost your body’s ability to run. The increases in adrenalin, endorphins, and dopamine, to name a few, are the body’s way of boosting the muscles and associated body parts to enable more effort. This is then translated to the brain which help increase mental alertness and acuity. The positive side effects of this create a heightened state of mind and reduces mental stress. Whenever we are mentally taxed, a run will improve our state of mind. This is also frequentky referred to as the ‘Runers High’.
So whatever your reasons are (or will be), running is a natural activity that the body is capable of. There is no simpler or cheaper Sport where one can feel a sense of achievement every single time one goes out and completes a run. It requires a good and comfortable pair of running shoes (unless you do beach running), socks and appropriate attire for the season and you can be out and running.
Find the run and the purpose may find you. Happy running!