The other day at work someone asked me why I would want to run a half marathon. It was funny being at the answering end of that question. The fact is one year ago I had the same question. Two years ago my question was more general…why would anyone want to run at all??
If you are a runner you are bound to hear these questions frequently. So I should have some perfect answer that would explain why I am willing to train my body to run 21.1k, right? In fact, if it is something I am so passionate about, shouldn’t I have some kind of brilliant and thoughtful summation of running and the human spirit? Shouldn’t I be able to come up with one of those quotes you could post on Facebook to motivate even the most sedentary person? Instead all I could come up was this: at the end of it all I feel like superwoman, able to do anything. Kind of lame, not particularly inspiring. My colleague’s next question was a good one – is it worth all the work for a few moments of feeling like superwoman? All I could say was yes, absolutely! But why is it worth it? Why do so many of us do this? Why is it that almost every weekend in this city there are races packed with hundreds or even thousands of average people pushing their bodies for the sake of a medal, a bagel and a banana? I don’t even like bananas! I can’t answer for the thousands of others, but here – in no particular order – are the reasons I run:
– The obvious answer, to keep fit. I am in better shape now than when I was in my thirties. I am hoping to be in even better shape when I get to my late forties.
– For “mental fitness”. When else do you get time to think uninterrupted, or for that matter have time to think about absolutely nothing uninterrupted? I work with kids and I have kids, I can’t even count the number of times I am interrupted in a day. But not when I run. Running is the ultimate “me time” while still accomplishing something.
– To listen to music uninterrupted. Once upon a time I spent a significant amount of time listening to music. I even have vague memories of going to concerts on a regular basis. Then we had kids. It is now pretty much impossible to listen to a favourite song all the way through without being asked a question or having to calmly and wisely solve a sibling conflict. O.K, the reality is I can’t hear the song over my yelling at the kids to solve the problem quickly or they will be in trouble. But when I run I stick in my ear buds and enjoy my music. Sometimes you will even catch me running and singing out loud. Not such a bad thing when I am running in my rural area. The cows and wild turkeys seem willing to tolerate my singing. I have, however, caught myself running and singing out loud in suburbia. It was the time that I was singing Ed Sheeran’s “I’ll Be Drunk Again” out loud that I realized I should be a little more careful!
– To set an example for my kids. Right now they think it is normal for mummy to go out for a run. If it is normal for mummy, maybe running – or another physical activity – will become normal for them. Both my boys already run in kids’ races and my 10 year old is looking forward to doing the 5k with me at Ottawa Race Weekend. They have both already experienced the feeling of doing their personal best and the fun atmosphere of races. I hope these memories will stick with them.
– To get away from my kids. Sorry but somebody has to say it. If you look at any races, there are a large number of women participating, in fact the women often out number the men. I have no scientific proof, but it seems to me that once women have done the pregnancy thing, the nursing thing, the diapers and sleepless nights, the toddler music and gymnastic classes (need I go on?), they are ready for something that does not involve their children. Something that can be done quickly and without a huge investment. Of course nobody warns them (or nobody warned me anyways) that once you reach one goal, say a 5k race, you will be addicted and the only thing to do is to keep readjusting your goals. Suddenly your long runs require more than 30 minutes. You find yourself saying crazy things like, “I won’t be long, should be back in about 2 hours.” You will go shopping for clothes for work and instead come home with piles of black spandex pants and neon shirts with reflective stripes. You will know you have really gone over the edge when you want to start wearing these clothes at work. But I digress…
– To prove I can do something I thought I couldn’t. I am not a natural athlete. Running requires work on my part, and regular work at that. But I have proven to myself over the last two years that I can set goals and reach them if I am willing to make the effort.
– Finally, I love the simplicity of running. Really, it all comes down to walking out the door and putting one foot in front of the other. I know, there is more to it…the hills, the speed intervals, the long slow runs, the short tempo runs. But ultimately, you put one foot in front of the other, week after week, and you end up accomplishing amazing things!
So, why wouldn’t I run???