Especially during these cold winter months, I am often asked why I choose to put myself through the “torture” of distance running. Considering how physically and mentally taxing a task running can be, I can understand the question. For those who have never called themselves a runner, it can be difficult to understand why anyone would go out of their way to get a workout in at all hours of the day and night and in all kinds of weather when they have a thousand other things to do. But for those who have, they cannot imagine their lives without the sport. For the non-believers out there, I wanted to share a few of the reasons I make time for running in my busy routine.
Initially, I started running because finishing a race gave me a sense of accomplishment. Racing allows me to test myself mentally and physically, and every time I finish a race in a new personal best time or I overcome whatever obstacles I encountered along the way, I feel like I have passed that test. I love the competitive aspect of the sport, both against myself and my fellow race entrants. Running bolsters my self-confidence and makes me feel like a stronger person who can take on the world. And I do take on the world every time it throws snow or rain or wind or cold at me - and I win!
Now that I am out of the world of high school and collegiate athletics, I have new motivation to run. In a world where we are all busy juggling responsibilities from work to family to education, running forces me to take some time for myself. I am able to collect my thoughts for an hour or so and clear my mind, allowing me to return home to “real life” feeling more energetic and able to be productive. Other days, I am fortunate enough to use my running as a social activity. My running partners are wonderful friends, and they inspire me look forward to my workouts more than anything else. When you train through good and bad days together, you form the strongest bonds and learn to lean on each other when you need it most. Some of my closest friends are those who have laced up their shoes and hit the trails with me over the years.
Additionally, there are a variety of smaller reasons that add up to a lot of motivation for me to keep running. For one thing, after a good run, I have earned the right to relax and eat whatever I want for the rest of the day! Plus, running outdoors gives me a great excuse to buy a new athletic wardrobe when the season changes, which I tend to get fairly excited about. More importantly, running allows me to be involved with the community and support positive causes when I enter road races to benefit non-profit organizations. These races are an exciting way to meet new people and explore different parts of my community by foot.
When it comes down to it, running is a lifelong activity that allows me to get and stay fit. It helps strengthen my mind and body and keeps me feeling energetic. I hope to one day be an excellent role model for my children by showing them how to live an active healthy lifestyle. Each day that I run, I prove to myself that I can meet my goals and overcome difficulties. On top of that, this sport has inspired and developed some of the closest friendships I have ever known. If you have never tried it, today may be the day to lace up a pair of shoes and hit the roads to see how running can change your life.