Why Do You Run?
Why do you run? What truly motivates you to lace up your shoes, leave the comfort of home and hit the pavement? Non-runners continually ask me this question. I came to realize that, for me, there is not one simple answer. The many reasons I regularly lace up my running shoes have evolved over the years.
When I was a young competitive swimmer, I ran because I had to. If anyone on the team showed up late, the coach would make the entire team run laps around the track before practice. And if we gained weight—above what he felt was “reasonable” teenage weight gain—he would make us run laps around the pool in our bathing suits. In college, I ran because it made me a stronger swimmer. After college, I ran to lose weight. In graduate school, I ran as training for a larger goal—completing a marathon. But I’ve also run for many other reasons. I’ve run to conquer writer’s block, to “get away from it all,” to forget about a bad date, to reminisce about a good one, to clear my head or to burn off a double scoop of ice cream. But most of all, I continuously run because I love the way it makes me feel.
Over the years, I’ve turned the tables on those around me, frequently asking coworkers, race participants and friends why they run. I found that their motivations were as diverse as mine. Some ran to be alone, others to be with friends. Some ran because it was a challenge, others because it relaxed them. Some ran to help themselves, some to help others. Folks ran because it was inexpensive and they could do it anywhere or because it made them feel young again.
No matter your motivation for running, the benefits of lacing up your running shoes are immense and include:
- Increased energy
- Decreased stress
- Decelerated aging
- Protection against heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other diseases
- Improved mental health and mood
- Increased sex drive
- Increased self-esteem
- Improved body composition
- Improved sleep
- Greater coordination
- Increased bone density
- Reduced risk of high blood pressure
- Improved HDL or “good” cholesterol
- Reduced LDL or “bad” cholesterol
- Increased calorie burn
Most people rarely consider such benefits. When you ask someone their motivations, I can almost guarantee that you will hear “I run for beer” or “I run for chocolate,” long before “I run for increased bone density.” But no matter why you run, the one benefit that everyone seems to agree on: Running makes us healthier, happier people.
Why do you run?