It should come as no surprise that I love running—it’s probably what I enjoy doing the most. However, to explain why isn’t easy. So, in honor of a day when we traditionally celebrate love, I thought that I’d try to share a little perspective on why I love to run.
Running isn’t always easy or fun—it requires effort, sacrifices, and can be downright frustrating. There are many times when I’d rather be snuggled up at home watching TV or out with friends than lacing up my shoes for a run. Running can bring on the tears, too. I’ve come to expect that I will shed a few as I’m approaching the summit of Pikes Peak for my annual run up and down the mountain. It’s just something about this mountain. Some folks call this “finish line tears.” The tears of pain are much harder. I’ve been sidelined with injuries that have kept me from running and it can feel like the world is collapsing around me.
So why do I do it? Why do we do it? Why do we run? There are probably as many reasons as there are runners. Some of us run to lose weight, get fit, connect with nature, chase a PR (personal record), or raise money for a charity. For many of us the reasons are also probably intangible—when we run, we tend to get a sense of who we really are or who we want to be. Running provides me with a perspective that I can’t get from anything or anywhere else.
Running provides freedom—freedom from our fears, struggles, and doubts—or just a bad day. Or it can make a good day, better. It doesn’t really matter if it’s two miles or twenty. There’s just something about putting one foot in front of the other and the sweat dripping down our faces that reminds us that it’s okay, or it will be. I know that I’m happier, healthier, and more confident because I run.
As runners, we’re a little obsessed with numbers. For some, it may be about hitting a certain time to PR; for others, it may be about a particular distance—a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or even a 100-mile race. This year, I’m focused on the number 50—completing my first 50-mile race. However, our numbers tend to be arbitrary—as soon as we hit one number, we start chasing the next one. And I love the chase. But I also love the days when I forget my Garmin and my focus turns from the numbers on my watch to what’s around me.
Last weekend, I had a friend in town and I took her to my favorite trail for a quick 6-mile run. It was muddy, wet, slick—and I loved it—we loved it! While I tend to be a solitary runner, it was nice to share the trail with a good friend. During our run, I pointed out a landmark. “See that tree over there,” I said, “that’s when I know I’m almost done with my loop.” I love the familiarity of my runs, but I also love the excitement that comes with exploring new trails.
I love the feeling of accomplishment and exhaustion that comes after a tough, long run and my rituals that follow: Stopping off at the store to buy potato chips and then heading home for a hot shower and a nap on the couch. I also love heading out to Dog Mountain in the Gorge on a sunny day and having a great view of Mt. Hood as I approach the summit—twice.
Finally, I love that I can channel my passion for running to give back to our communities.
There’s just something about a run that makes everything seem right in the world—that makes us come back for more—makes me come back for more. So, today I’m celebrating love by heading out for a run and I encourage you to do something you love.