Why We Run
by Robin Riglin
Have you ever noticed that while other runners will
occasionally ask, "Why do you run?," non-runners almost
never do? It seems counter-intuitive, doesn't it? One would think
that we runners would know better than anyone why someone runs, and
there would be no need to ask.
Conversely, it would seem logical that folks who don't get out there
and pound the pavement during the wee small hours or in scorching
heat or blistering cold would ask why on earth anybody would. And
yet, I haven't found that to be the case.
When I step back and think about it, I think I understand. Non-runners
probably look at runners and assume they know why we do it. I would
imagine they think we run primarily for weight loss or maintenance,
or perhaps the general overall health benefits. Perhaps they have
even heard about the infamous "runner's high," which was
much-touted back in the '80's, and think we are in the throes of some
mystical exercise-induced euphoria. Or maybe they just don't find
the topic of running interesting enough to bother inquiring about.
Whatever the case, they generally don't ask.
Runners, however, are all too eager to pick each others' brains, to
get at the essence of our motivation. I believe this is because runners,
whether they are beginners struggling through a few miles a week,
or hard-core, don't-miss-a-day veterans, realize that running is about
so much more trying to keep the spare tire or beer gut at bay. While
the physical health benefits (and the ability to down Ben and Jerry's
with a little less guilt) are certainly nice bonuses, I think most
of us run for more intangible, and yes, maybe even (move over, Oprah)
When my local runner's club recently included the question "why
do you run?" as part of its online member bio form, I thought
about it less and had less trouble answering than I did all the goofy
questions about favorite movies and the like.
Oh, there was a lot I could have said. I could have mentioned the
feeling of freedom I get from getting outside and just going, or the
sense of accomplishment I feel when I've run a great time in a race,
or the feeling of iscovery in discovering new, uncharted (at least
to me) trails, or the belief that early-morning runs are the best
way to get to know a city I've never been to before. And, yes, I could
have mentioned the extra slice of pizza that I can eat without giving
it a second thought. But I didn't. I simply entered, "It's part
of who I am."
' Robin Riglin -- used with permission