Running, a magical reality check!

I always get asked this question, probably at least once a week by someone. Some people don’t understand my dedication towards running and can’t see why I would spend half my life training to become a better runner.

Why would I just run for the sake of running? Why would I sacrifice aspects of my social life in order to run a certain distance in a quicker time? 

This got me thinking, and so I want to share my thoughts on what it is that makes me lace my trainers up every day and chase my dreams.

To start off with, I want to say this article is relevant to anyone that has a passion and wakes up every day wanting to achieve something that means a lot to them. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it means something to you, you enjoy it and you want to do whatever it takes to achieve it, then you are already halfway to getting where you want to be. When people tell me they don’t understand my running commitments, I simply tell them they don’t have to.

Everyone is unique and has gifts that provide them with a purpose. Running is not my only purpose because that in itself is not a healthy concept, but for at least the time being running is a huge part of my life. So to answer my question in 3 words, it would be because I enjoy it. I am sure many of you will be able to relate no matter what your choice of sport is.

But first, let's look into the concept of who and what a runner is. There are millions of individuals around the world who run, but less than 50% of these individuals classify themselves as ‘a runner.’

Why is this? What does it mean exactly to be “a runner?”

Simply put, I would say a runner is someone who runs for the pure joy of the sport, not for weight loss, not for aesthetic reasons, not running purely to get fit, but instead getting fit to run. It’s rewarding, it’s exciting when you beat your personal best, no one would disagree that when you excel at something it is human nature to want to keep doing it. But there is definitely more to being a runner than the achievements that come with it. If it was purely about the achievements, why would so many ex-competitive runners keep wanting to run even once they have retired from competition?

For me, running gives me time to reflect. Time to be present. I love the feeling of being free in nature. Running may disconnect me from others at times because they don’t understand my love for the sport, but it has enhanced my connection with myself. The feeling of pushing harder, the concept of battling with yourself to realize your limits, but your real limits and not just your perceived limits. It gives you that chance in your day to reflect on so much, and become so much more aware of your own body and how you feel.

"Running may disconnect me from others at times because they don’t understand my love for the sport, but it has enhanced my connection with myself."   

The feeling I get after a run is not comparable to anything else I have ever experienced. If I am having a bad day, I can guarantee that 9.5 times out of 10 I will be in a completely different mindset after a run to that of which I started the run in. I guess this is all thanks to the endorphins (those feel-good hormones) that get produced when you exercise. Due to running’s intense nature, I guess you get more of those hormones in comparison to a lot of other sports, most probably why, in my opinion, no other sport can have the same effect on me. It’s like the stresses you were carrying pre-run get pushed to the back of your mind and you get a new outlook on your situation, let's call it a magical reality check.

"It’s like the stresses you were carrying pre-run get pushed to the back of your mind and you get a new outlook... a magical reality check."   

Running takes a lot of discipline, anything that requires hard work does, and pursuing running as a D1 athlete is no exception. Running has taught me to be a lot more patient and appreciate the good in situations that I may not have thought possible. Injuries are common, and the emotional journey of recovering from setbacks has genuinely helped me to become a more durable person.

I feel that for the majority of people they don’t give running a chance. Anything new is usually tough and so when the tough gets going people label running as something that ‘isn’t for them.’ As children, it was no big issue for us to run around the playground and view that time as fun. So why is it that as people have grown up they look at something so natural to human beings to be something that is so difficult?

To all my fellow runners, keep pushing your boundaries and enjoying the process, no matter what anyone else thinks about your efforts. If you're someone reading this who doesn’t associate themselves as a runner, I would strongly encourage you to give it a chance. I’m almost positive it helps with every aspect of your mental wellbeing and can benefit individuals of all sporting backgrounds. Maybe it’s the extra component that your training needs to get you to become a next level competitor. After all, they say runners are some of the toughest people out there (wink wink).


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