This is probably a question which many non-runners ask of runners. After all why would you want to do something that is physically very hard work and makes you hot and sweaty?
For many beginner runners their motivation has come from a desire to lose weight, get fitter, lead a healthier lifestyle, or they may even want to set themselves a personal challenge. They see others completing Park runs, Race for Life, half or full marathons and want to see if they can do the same. Sometimes, being affected by a family illness or loss of a loved one through heart disease or cancer inspires them to take on a running challenge to raise money for charity. The reasons why people choose to take up running are numerous.
My reason for taking up running was literally to see if I could do it – running was not something which I particularly excelled at or enjoyed when I was at school. However as an adult I had developed a passion for fitness, in particular cycling, working out at the gym and attending fitness classes, and as I had built up a good level of fitness I now wanted to see if I could take on running. I had also seen Race for Life being promoted on television and I thought it looked a lot of fun and as my nan had been diagnosed with cancer at the time I decided to sign up for my first Race for Life. Having completed my first 5K I then felt inspired to join a women’s running group – it was at this point I got the running bug. I loved running with others and as I got fitter I was able to run and hold a conversation. This was the point at which my relationship with running changed. Instead of it being about keeping fit or being a personal challenge it became my ‘therapy’.
The opportunity to run and have a good conversation (without any interruptions) for 45 minutes or so, felt very sacred, especially in today’s busy society. Sometimes the conversations are just chattering about day-to-day stuff, and sometimes it’s a chance to air a problem. The social interaction is wonderful – it’s just like have a coffee morning with a group of friends, except you’re running instead of drinking coffee! Of course, not all my runs are with others. When I run on my own, I find it equally therapeutic. I can let my mind roam, ponder about life, work out answers to problems, or just think up new ideas, or to coin a phrase – do a bit of ‘blue sky thinking’. Either way, running with others or alone is certainly very healthy for the mind. And, as for the post-exercise endorphins; they can change you. Sometimes pre-run I may feel tired from a poor night’s sleep or perhaps not in a particularly perky mood, but after a run I feel much more energised and happier.
I also love running because it gets me outdoors. I love running along in the countryside, exploring new routes, going across fields and finding hidden pockets of countryside I never knew existed. I love feeling and experiencing the weather – from hot, sunny summer days, to crisp, cold winter days. Oddly enough I prefer winter running to summer running. In the winter we are cooped up inside so much with the heating on, so it just feels great to get outside and feel the fresh air on your face. And even if it is freezing cold when you set out, you come back feeling warm and toast- with a healthy glow! Finally I love watching the changing seasons. Its amazing what you notice when out on a run; the first signs of spring with buds on the hedgerows, blackberries appearing at the end of summer, and of course seeing the wonderful autumn colours. Normally we are too busy rushing about in daily lives that we don’t get time to take in the world around us.
So, if you ask my ‘why do I run?’, well perhaps my answer is that it helps me to live life to the full.