Monday, August 29, 2011
Why I Run
A concerned friend once asked me why I run and what I was running from.
I found this an odd question, full of (her) assumptions about my motivation.
At the time I was training for a mini-triathlon so for me it was more about what I was working towards.
The question didn’t gel with my sense of why I was running, but as with all good questions, it got me really thinking about what I get from running and why I keep doing it.
Our bodies are made to run; in fact you and I wouldn’t be here now unless someone way back in our gene pool was better than running than the person behind, or the animal in from of them; they either got away or caught the food.
Let me be clear, I don’t consider myself a “proper runner”. There are people who can run faster and further than I can.
I’ll get out and train for a specific event and sometimes mix up my training program with a quick couple of kilometres, but I don’t run several times a week with any regularity.
Having since completed more than a few mini-triathlons and other running events, I am far more aware of the internal benefits they give me.
I feel an incredible sense of calm before a race, none of the nervous anticipation I sometimes experience in the weeks leading up to an event.
On race day there are no butterflies in my stomach, no thoughts of “what if I can’t”, or of anything going wrong; there’s just me, calm and centred, knowing that I have prepared for what lies ahead, that I will do what I can do and get through this race.
I don’t always have a specific time goal in mind other than finishing and I’m usually quite conservative with my estimate of how long an event will take – the first time.
Then it’s a matter of working out my own level of challenge, and I'm happy when I exceed my own expectations.
Running serves a purpose that is less about the distance covered or the time taken, and more about shifting the focus to my body to clear the busyness from my mind, getting in touch with the rhythm of my breath and doing something I previously thought impossible.
Believing I can do it is important otherwise I would never even begin and preparation is key.
Training for any event means putting in the physical work and each event takes place foremost in the mind - that’s what gives up first, not the legs or lungs.
I finished the Sydney City To Surf a couple of weeks ago and race day was the first time I’ve ever run 14 kilometres. I didn’t run the whole way; I walked when I needed to.
When the going got tough, I checked in with myself to see if I needed to stop and walk or if I just wanted to; answering THAT question honestly, every time, is why I was so proud of myself when I crossed the line, not because of the time but because I knew I had run my best race.