I was listening to a running podcast the other day and was encouraged to contemplate why I run. It’s actually quite a big and profound question and not easily answered. At least not in a single part – I have many reasons and some are more important than others on a given run. So here are my current reasons…
- Indigenous marathon project
This one is a big reason for me right now. I have chosen to raise funds for this amazing project through my running of the Disney Dopey challenge and I couldn’t be prouder to support them. The historical and contemporary treatment of Aboriginals in our country is nothing to be proud of and programs like this go a long way to changing that. This program supports indigenous people from all over Australia to get into running and, ultimately, to aim for the New York marathon, all the while earning qualifications in health and fitness and inspiring their families and communities. As a teacher, I know how much of a role model I am for my students, intentionally or not so I love that this project empowers young people to be the most positive role models they can be. I could go on and on about the benefits but I won’t. Check out their website and please, please – if you can spare a small amount to donate to my fundraising efforts, I’d be so grateful.
- My mental health
The physical benefits of running are well known and pretty obvious but so much of why I run is for the mental benefits. Running allows me to retreat to a zen like space in my head where all that matters is my breathing, where my feet are landing and the environment around me. Other things will pop in and out of my head but nothing sticks other than my basic needs. Quite often, I come home with solutions to problems I wasn’t even able to articulate when I went out. And when my anxiety rears its ugly, insidious head, the endorphins from running reign it in. Few of my stormy moods last past the 4th kilometre of any run.
- For the sense of accomplishment
I wouldn’t say I’m an overachiever but I have always been someone who set high standards and pushed to achieve them. The goals I set and achieve through running bring me such a strong sense of accomplishment – maybe because they usually scare me to begin with? Even my regular training runs end with me feeling almost a little smug – I got it done despite all the reasons I could have conjured up not to. It’s not about beating anyone else, it’s about beating me. Conquering fears and resisting the voice in my head that says it can’t be done.
- Feeling part of something
This is a bit of an odd one and not one I anticipated when I started running. I’d had flirtations with running, on and off, for a few years but have now been running consistently for 3 years. And when I say consistently, I mean it – I’ve run 3 or 4 times a week, every week, for the last 3 years. A significant contributor to me sticking with it this time is the running community I’ve found. First online through the inspirational five30runners, then through parkrun in Geelong and then through the network of running friends I’ve built up, locally and far away. I’m not a huge fan of running with people but knowing they’re around, either on the trail, for coffee afterwards or virtually through a facebook group brings me a lot of happiness and comfort. Most of my running is alone but far from lonely and swapping running tales with this bunch is guaranteed to make me smile. I wouldn’t even have contemplated doing the Dopey challenge if it weren’t for them, believing in me and doing it together. So it might not have started out that way but feeling a part of this running tribe is now a very big reason why I run and why I’m sure I’d feel lost without it.
I know there are more reasons but I’ll stop there so this doesn’t turn into an essay. Please note there is absolutely no ‘to get a better body’ type reasons anywhere in or near my list, nor will there ever be. I certainly run to be a better person but all of the benefits I care about are to my insides, not my outside.