Some run to survive the zombie apocalypse, some to escape their family, others to lose weight. There are as many reasons to run as there are runners and most of us have a combination of motivations. Not all of these reasons are understandable to those that don’t indulge in the activity. A lot of people understand the desire to get healthy and lose a few calories, but not as many relate to taking yourself to the very edge of your capabilities just to see what you can achieve. Whatever your reasons, there is something that can be easily overlooked in the calorie counting and serious training plans. Sometimes we forget that if we really didn’t like it, we would all be doing something else.
I started this whole running m’larky for 2 reasons, I was trying to shift a bit of a pot belly, and I am easily persuaded to follow other peoples hare brained schemes. In the past the second reason has gotten me into a lot of trouble, but in this case it has served me well. This hare brained scheme to run a half marathon has led to an interest and hobby that has changed who I am. When I came staggering across the line at Blenheim Palace half marathon I was completely spent. It did not take more than an hour to recover though, and by the next Tuesday I was out running as fast as I could to try and get my pace up. I already had another reason to run.
I was a regular at Parkrun by then and I really felt that a sub 25 min 5k was a possibility. That was why I went off on that first run after Blenheim like a bat out of hell. It was all about the pace. The need for speed though did not explain all my motivation for running. I had enjoyed the look on co-workers faces when I arrived at work and told them I had run 6 miles at the weekend, or I had been out for a couple of miles before work. It made me feel smug that I had something that others seemed a little jealous of. I am sure I am not the only runner who has a secret delight in standing out from the crowd by achieving something that others think they can’t. Smugpoints, definitely a good reason to run.
Even this does not explain why I still keep going. After a while people at work stopped being so impressed, it was just what I did. The pot belly was almost gone, and even the new sub 25 min Parkrun was done, targets achieved, why was I still out there pounding the streets? What I realised was that actually underlying all the other reasons and motivations there was something else lurking. I actually bloody like running, despite the pain, misery, and occasional loneliness that can bedevil the existence of a long distance runner. I actually like moving my feet as fast as they go, until my chest is heaving in great lung fulls of air because there is nothing else I can do. I also like the rhythmical plodding of a long distance, and the sweaty satisfaction of arriving back home breathless. Somewhere along the line I actually began to enjoy being fit and able to push myself to extremes.
Even with all of this the whole story of my reasons for running is not told. There is one more thing that keeps me coming back, and that is the community of runners. Whether they are people at Parkrun, those at my run club, or even those online at #ukrunchat I actually feel like I belong, and that is a very nice feeling. Unlike the work colleagues who have become blasé about the whole running thing, the running community while not as easily impressed is much more supportive. Perhaps we all have fragile egos that need a bit of boosting, but everywhere I encounter positive views on my ability, from the thumbs up I get as I run another bloody set of Yasso, to the congratulations on running another bloody marathon. If the community of runners is giving me yet one more reason to run, I am sure it is giving others that very same motivation too. Being surrounded by nice people, doing something you enjoy, while achieving what you once thought impossible seems to be the best reasons to run I can think of.