Tonight’s run was a good one. I’ve been feeling anxious about running recently. Questioning why I’m too slow and feeling worried about running with others. But tonight was enjoyable and it made me think about the reasons why I run.
This year I’m on course to run more miles than ever before, as long as I don’t get injured, ill or let anything else get in the way of running. I feel like running is now part of my routine. A way of life. Before when it was something I had to force myself to do. I need to run. All this running got me thinking about the reasons why I started, why I pushed on and why I now get very grumpy if I miss a week of running.
I first started running because I was fed up of being fat and unfit. I didn’t run far, fast, or often. I plodded on like this for a couple of years, fitting in maybe one or two runs a week in an effort to lose some weight. I remember living in London and going for lunchtime runs along the Southbank, thinking I’d done something massive. Looking back at my running logs I was only running 2-3 miles once a week. Forcing myself to get out there was a big deal as I didn’t love running.
I started running more seriously a few years ago as a way to cope with heartbreak. I was desperately sad and lonely, struggling to hold myself together everyday, and running became my therapy. I ran further and harder as a way to deal with the pain. Literally running through endless tears until I stopped crying enough to get on with another day. Running for recovery. Running for head space. Running to prove something to myself. Since then running has been an important part of maintaining good levels of happy. This time in my life definitely set me on a path to see running as essential. It made me love running because running helped me like myself again.
I carried on running more seriously because I got addicted to the thrill of races. I signed up to my first half marathon in 2014. I didn’t believe I could do it but once I’d done one I was addicted. It gave me a reason to keep on running and something good to focus on. Medal collecting became my aim. Over the space of a couple of years my medal collection grew with many 10ks, 7 half marathons and a marathon between mid 2014 and the end of 2015.
Last year I discovered running for friendship. Moving around is hard and I wish I had been brave enough to get involved with running clubs much sooner as it would have made a big difference to my sense of belonging. I used to get jealous of religious friends who could go somewhere new and instantly find their new community through church. Now I know that if I needed to move somewhere new I could find my place much more easily. Running clubs have transformed my running experience and brought so many joyful times. When you are somewhere new and don’t know anyone then a running club makes you feel less alone. It might not bring instant close friendships but there is an opportunity for a greatly improved social life.
The final reason that I run is for the sense of adventure. I’ve discovered the joy of always packing a pair of running shoes when travelling. There is no better way to see a new place than to run through it. I love running in the hills, up mountains and in the wild. There is something incredibly satisfying about surviving a fell race or going out on the moors alone and knowing you’ve got the survival skills to get back home. I love running in the snow, wind and rain, battling against the weather and feeling tough. I run because it makes me feel strong. I run to see the world.
If I get a bad injury that stops me running then I’m going to need to find a good replacement for the head space, friendships and adventures that running gives me.