Why do I run...
A couple of my runner friends have posted this video on Facebook and I love it. For those that know me well it will come as no surprise that watching this made me reflect on my journey over the last year +. The simple statement that came to my mind as I watch this was that I run to prove to myself that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. As I continued to think about this video I also thought more about what I mean by that. I wrote the statement down so I could examine it more closely, okay, maybe I'm going too far, but I like the mental exercise of examining thoughts like this more closely, it's very therapeutic!
I run to prove to myself that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.
The first thing that jumps out is how many times I refer to myself. Running is for me, and me alone. It is one of the first things in my life that I have done exclusively for me. There are plenty of benefits for others, I'm healthier and happier so I am better for my wife and friends and will be around longer and I've been able to help give some motivation to others. Those benefits are great, but it isn't about that. It is only about me doing something for myself.
Why do I need to prove anything to myself? As I discussed in an earlier post, I've always had some self-esteem issues. Running is the best cure I've found. How can you doubt yourself after running 18.5 miles on a treadmill with no headphones?? How can you question your own abilities as you cross the finish line of your first half marathon still feeling strong?? Running does one thing very well, crushes self doubt.
Running is a great form of meditation. Non-runners think that running is a strenuous physical activity and there's no surprise that they are correct. Running is a far more strenuous emotional and mental exercise. Every time you go out for a run you are conquering your fear. It's just natural, we can admit that. Your body doesn't want to run for dozens of miles at a time. Your body creates fear and doubt to stop you from putting it through such difficulties. The exercise is training your mind to overcome that, to not consider that, to actually WANT that. I love the doubt I have starting a run, I love that I don't know if I can do it. Running is about focusing your mind while allowing it wonder. Running is about confronting the fear that you don't know if you can do it and beating that fear. I know more about myself after every single run.
The last thing I want to mention is also part of proving my strength to myself. This one I KNOW only fellow runners will understand. In every Long Run, Tempo Run or Interval Run, there is a wall you run into. Everyone's heard about that wall, but until you experience it you just have no idea. The wall is a point of complete and total mental and physical exhaustion. A point that you have absolutely nothing left in the tank, you can't keep your mind focused and you can't keep your feet moving. The problem is you still have many miles left in your run. The pride and gratification of pushing through it won't come until after the run. Right now all you have is the exhaustion. That's it, just you, the exhaustion and the many miles left to run, that's ALL you've got. I have learned to love that moment. I relish in that moment, I actually look forward to that moment. It's gut check time. Do you quit? Do you stop? Do you fall over and cry? Or do you keep running? Do you fight until you've hit your goal? Do you have the strength to fight when you have no strength left? That moment is the point where you learn who and what you are.
These are the things that running teaches me and these are why I run. I love running, I hate running; it's really the same thing. I am a runner and I love every painful, joyful, insightful moment of it.
Next time your out logging miles ask yourself this question and let that run be a chance for reflection and self discovery. Happy running, everyone!!!!