Monday, September 1, 2008

Why Do I Run???

It all started back in my teens. That was my first foray into the world of exercise. I think I just decided to give it a try one day and I discovered I was good at it. I'm not a sprinter, but I'm a good distance runner, and I run at a good pace. It turned into something that I always kept coming back to. I went with all the workout trends as they came and went, but running was always there, somewhere, in the mix of things. Back then I did it purely for exercise and burning calories to rid my body of the fat I thought I had back then. These days I run for (i) the challenge it creates for me, and (ii) the mental clarity it gives me.

I'll start with the challenge part first. Back in the winter of '01, I took my kids on clear, sunny, but snowy day out with a friend and her kids for a day of sledding. Well, the four kids were laughing and having a great time and my friend and I decided we wanted in on some of that as well. Well, trying to be like my daughter I stood on the sled and went down the hill like that (snowboarding was just becoming 'the' thing back then) and I did great. It was second run that took me out-I picked up too much speed and put my foot out to slow myself down and bam! My foot planted in the snow, but the rest of me kept going. Cut to the chase--I have an ankle held together by plates on each side, multiple screws and I believe 3 or so pins. Therein lies my running challenge--my orthopedic surgeon told me I would never run again. I'm stubborn, so prove him wrong I did and still do--as often my crazy life permits too!

Re the mental clarity, well it does just that. It clears my head of everthing that clogs it up. I tend to take a lot of things to heart. I agonize over things beyond my control, I take on more than I can and should, and I tend to let things that shouldn't get to me, get to me. When I go out for a run, I can put a lot of things into perspective. I'm by myself, it's my time and I can run the wudda/cudda/shudda's and why/why nots of everything through my head. Most of the time when I finish I feel much better about situations that really troubled me or had me down when I started. I don't know why this is, but it works for me. A lot of people ridicule the 'runner's high' that people claim to get. I, for one, totally get it. The feeling you get following a great run is a stimulant for your body.

I could go on and on about this, but I'm curious to hear other people's point of view on this. Why do you run? What does it do for you?


workout mommy said...

Great post! My reasons for running have changed along w/the changes in my life. Before kids, I ran to stay thin and burn lots of calories.

I ran marathons to push myself to the absolute.

Once I became a mom, I ran to feel better about myself, to clear my head, to hear my kids cheering "go mommy!". I run to stay healthy and to feel like an athlete.

Now that I'm injured, I am not really able to run and I miss it so much. It's part of who I am. Without it, I am not the same person.

When i can run again, my new mantra will be "I run because I can"!

Scott Tousignant said...

Fantastic post!

I run for many reasons and weight loss is at the very bottom.

Like you, I run/brisk walk to clear my head and prepare for the day. I use the time to reflect on my accomplishments and open my heart for the dreams that I am about to achieve.

I run to educate myself... I listen to self improvement, fitness, and business audios often times when I run.

I run because I love nature. I'm always outdoors when I run. I'm lucky to have a nice stretch of road that follows a quite little river and there is farm land on the other side of the road.

I run because it's the one time of day that I can become in-tune with myself.

It's the only time of day where I actually pay attention to my breathing, my stride, and the amazement of the connectivity between body and mind.

If you told me to stop running because it's not the most effective way of burning fat, I could possibly quit exercise all together.

I do what I love and that's what makes my active lifestyle something that I will always stick with.

Thanks for the great post!

Scott Tousignant

LindaM said...

workoutmommy -- I love that -- "I run because I can!" So right on, that statement. I 100% concur. Thank you for commenting...

LindaM said...

Scott, I too, do what I love. I also agree that its the time of day I focus on me and my thoughts... You added much perspective to this and I thank you too!

valeriewaters said...

Linda, My story will feel somewhat familiar. I started running right before high school started. The HS track coach had invited all 8th graders to try out for the team. We ran around the track and then we were told what events we would excel at (hint, everyone made the team)but none-the-less, I was good at something!! Naturally, I went to practice every day and ran my heart out because I was told I was good at this (it didn't occur to me until years later that I didn't really have any special speed or talent here but through effort and perserverance I did well enough to win some meets. My love of running was born in those first few months. I loved that feeling after a hard workout, a feeling of satisfaction. I loved who I felt I was, an athlete!! I loved knowing that regardless of what teenage angst I was going through (fight with parents, boy didn't call, etc) that I could go for a run and leave it on the road. I carry that feeling with me today even though it is now difficult for me to run. I am trying to work my way back. Seeing a PT and just got orthodics. I miss the feeling of going for a run and just blowing things out, even if it is not the best thing for my body now. It does my head good.

LindaM said...

Hey Val, thanks for stopping in! Never thought about how track could be a self-esteem builder for kids--but it's true--everyone can run..just have to find the right niche for it. And it's funny we all seem to agree it's not the most 'efficient' of weight loss tools, but the other benefits it brings to each individual and their personal reasons for doing it far outweigh most arguments people have with it. Thanks for your story..these are all great!

Stacey Shipman said...

I used to run for the weight loss, then the challenge of running races and marathons and now it's because I love to be outside and no other exercise clears my mind like running. I have written speeches, newsletters and found answers to questions I'd often been struggling with. And I always feel great after a run. I can't run as much as I used to - it's hard on the body, but I do it when I can and I love it. It will always be "my" exercise.

Mark Salinas said...

I run for various reasons....sometimes to challenge myself. Other times to clear my head. So many benefits from running. Thanks for sharing your story...great post! :)

LindaM said...

Stacey, I went through a period of hating to say I even did it because so many frown upon it, but I've come to listen to my body and I now incorporate everything that I know 'works' for me. Thanks so much for your thoughts and input.

Talli van Sunder, DPT said...

Running is a great way to elevate your mood. The feel good hormone levels, endorphines,increase when we run. For me running does more than keep me in good cardiovascular health it is a place where I can clear my mind, feel content and reflect upon the past and present events. Running just feels good physically and mentally! :-)

LindaM said...

talli, so glad you stopped in! Thank you! I'm seeing from everyone's posts how running really is a personal thing for most people..and how it brings out the best in them. You guys all rock--I thank you all so much for your thoughts on this!

Rachel said...

I enjoy running for the freedom of responsibilities. Honestly, cycling is much more fun and creatively liberating if that makes sense. Something about my wheels turning on the road makes my head spin in really positive directions.

MizFit said...

*trying* to get into running.
no comment.
just here to read the comments.