Whilst I was out running this past week, I was thinking a lot about why I run? Why was my chosen activity running and not weight lifting or body combat or step?
I have tried all of those things over the years but it is always running where I get the most fulfilment.
Being able to exercise indoors in the comfort of a gym with an instructor telling me exactly what I need to be doing could be appealing. I guess it could be motivating to not have to think about what move I need to do next or worry about where I will carry my nutrition and water. But there's a level of excitement, challenge and adventure that running gives me that I can not get elsewhere.
And I am reminded of this each week as the km's climb in my training for my New York Marathon. Now that I am back running the longer distances and I feel like I am at my running happy place, I know why I love running.
Some of the reasons I love running are below:
- I use my body in ways I did not think possible - When I first started running, a marathon was so far from my things to do, it was seen as an impossible task. But each run slowly led me to run my first marathon. Each run showed me exactly what my body can do and still even today as I train for my fourth marathon I am still learning what I am capable of. Running has allowed me to use the power of fear and the unknown to chase goals that I would never have thought possible. Its taken energy from stresses of every day life and put them to good use during each run. And most importantly, it is given me the ability to believe that anything is absolutely possible.
- Strength of the mind and body - I love the state of flow that I enter into when I am running. I am always completely in the moment, body and breath connected simply enjoying the simple pleasure of being able to move my body and run. Running has given me a new appreciation of the strength of my body and mind. Running has taught me how to read my body and understand when I can push it and when I need to take it easy. I understand how to use my breath for ongoing stamina and endurance. The transformation in my mind and body has been profound over the years. Yes, it has changed me physically, but I don't run for weight loss rather its about the strength of my legs and core together with the power of my mind. There is so much emphasis in society of being "skinny", to me being fit is about being strong both mentally and physically. It's about using the power of both of these to chase goals and see how far you can go.
- Connection with others - there is a unique bond that us runners have. Despite our life outside of running, we are all connected by the power of our bodies being able to run. It doesn't matter if you run slow or fast, trails or road we all understand that we have an innate ability to put our mind to running and do it. Whether you run solo or in a group, we are connected by a mutual goal of running a distance, time or event. We all understand what it feels like to work hard and the feel the reward of our run. You will never find a runner who isn't excited to talk to another runner, nor will you never be motivated by another runners achievements.
- Being outdoors - witnessing morning beauty is one of my loves of running. Being a morning person, I love the excitement that running before or at the crack of dawn gives. It makes you feel alive and appreciate for the life we have. Even if it is suburban running, you will have a new appreciation for the roads around you - you will witness streets at different angles, parks in new light and you will very soon get to know where a water tap and toilet are.
Week 9 was a big week of running. Nearly 50kms for the week. Its been a while since I've run that distance but I LOVE it. I am absolutely loving the longer distances and it reminds me that this is where I feel most comfortable. I feel challenged, motivated and determined with each long run. I love the challenge of mapping out my course, setting a very early alarm and most of all doing the run. Pushing through the fatigue that kicks in at times, the sometimes monotony of each step is all forgotten when I reach my final destination and distance. The achievement of having completed the run outweighs all hard times.
Are you a gym goer or runner? How do the things I get from running compare to the benefits you get from going to the gym.