Why do you run?
I ran just over 26.2 miles on Sunday in 4 hours, 38 minutes, and 4 seconds; 23 minutes slower than I’d hoped. Regardless, I’m a marathoner and I’m so proud.
Reflecting on my journey made me realize that I didn’t take training seriously enough. I let life get in the way when I lost my job, and with my job and stability went all motivation to run. My goal of BQ’ing became a goal of 4 hours. And from there, it became 4 hours, 15 minutes. Saturday night, I was telling dad to expect the worst of my personal goals: 4:30.
In the end, I was fairly pleased with my time. I wasn’t angry about it, I’ll put it that way. It’s made me hungrier and I’m anxious to know what I’m capable of and how fast I can become. But my time and some comments in a Chicago Marathoners Facebook group made me think about my running a bit differently, and I want to pose this question to you: are you running for the right reasons?
My “why” I run is simple: I run to prove to myself that I can. To prove that I’m made of more than I think I am. To improve, grow, flourish. I run because I can, I run for my friends and family members who cannot, but would give anything to be able to. I run for me, for my mental health, for sanity, for clarity. I run because of how it makes me feel.
I have friends and family who run for similar reasons. They run for the sanity and calm that running promotes, or for the both physical and mental health benefits. But I saw an interesting question posed, and the answers left me frustrated: Would you run if there was no medal? No t-shirt? Would you run if you weren’t promised something material in return? Would you run if there were no bragging rights? No public glory? Nothing to flaunt to coworkers?
I added the end of that, but the question “Would you run if there were no medal?” was met with an overwhelming number of “No, I run only for the bling” answers and it frustrated me. I love the medals just as much as the next runner. They’re a fun souvenir for a race that you can display and enjoy for years to come. But at what point in our quest for “bling” do we need to stop and question if we’re running for the right reasons?
I have a friend who loved to run. It carried her through some of the toughest moments in her life and she cherished every marathon she had the chance to conquer. Her body disagreed with running and several surgeries later, she’s had to give it up. She would give anything for that freeing feeling again. And when I ran Sunday, she was one of the people I thought of and dedicated my race to.
If you’re blowing off training, not taking care of your body, and trudging across the finish line with your eyes set on that finisher’s medal like Scrooge McDuck on money, are you doing justice to the runners who are sidelined? If all you’re searching for is a moment of glory to brag about to coworkers and friends, are you doing a disservice to running as a whole? I’m not sure I have a definitive answer, but I know it frustrates me and has left me upset with some of my fellow marathoners.
What do you think? Is there a right/wrong reason to run?