Yeah, we probably are – not in a clinical manner mind you, but we probably all have a degree, or three of crazy. We run through the hot summers, and through the snow and ice covered winters, through bone chilling wind, and through the raw, cold and rainy spring days. We say things like,”Yeah, it was hot today, but it wasn’t so bad,” and “If you’re layered correctly, you’re only cold for the first four minutes that your outside.”
Every runner has a different reason, but we each have the same goal: to get through the run. Some of us run so that we are prepared for races, others run because they want to be faster, others run to lose or maintain weight, others still run simply because they love the feeling. We run because it clears our minds and removes the stresses of every day. We run because we like fresh air. We run because our gear stares at us until we jump into it and head outside. We run alone for solidarity and with friends for accountability. We run for the sound of feet landing on the sidewalk. We run for the feeling of accomplishment that we have at the end, regardless of how well or poorly the run went. We give each other a nod of support as we pass each other on the streets, knowing exactly why the other person is braving the weather that day. When our friends race, we show up to root them on and applaud all of their efforts that have brought them to this day. We tell them that they look strong and awesome because that is truly fact in that moment.
Running takes many forms. Some days are strictly for the purpose of building mileage, other days are for speed. Either way, we become better runners, but it’s never easy. We do it anyway; we’re not looking for easy.
Why do I run? The decision roughly nine years ago was simple. I was a regular gym-goer and group class attendee, but never a runner. When my father had suggested the idea in high school, I looked at him like he had eight heads. Then one day I woke up and realized that, other than the fact that I’m a little short, I’m built like a distance runner. My legs are long-ish and my frame is light and small. I don’t have a lot of weight to carry. It just seemed logical. I spent that first summer running indoors on a treadmill under the expertise of a walk to run program. Outdoors at the time would have been great, but I was living in Tennessee where the summer weather is unbearably hot for a northerner like me. My walk to run program went pretty well, and I ran my first 5K at the end of that summer, coming in just under 30 minutes. Seeing as it was a 90 degree September morning, I felt good about the race time, and it was reinforcement that this was a sport in which I could make progress. I’ve run a few more races over the years.
These days I don’t race much. I am signed up to run the Disney half marathon in January 2016, but other than that, I don’t feel much motivation to race. For me, running is a fitness and confidence endeavor. It keeps me in shape and makes me feel as invincible as a woman in her mid thirties can. It makes me feel like I can do more, go further, and always progress. It makes me thankful that I am able to put one foot in front of the other, as this isn’t a luxury afforded to all. It makes me thankful to my community of running friends who are always happy to see me, reinforcing why I do this.
Running will be a part of my life until I am no longer able to do it, and hopefully that won’t be for a long time.