Thursday, June 28, 2012

Why I Run

People ask me why I run (no one’s really asked me that, but I couldn’t come up with a better opening line.) Ok, let me rephrase that. If someone were to ask me why I run, I would give them five really good reasons. I run for the “Thrill of the Race,” Me Time, fitness, camaraderie, and one bonus reason. Sorry, you’re going to have to read to find out.

When I first started seriously running last year after a 10 plus year hiatus, it was as a result of the “Thrill of the Race.” I say seriously running because I would make attempts to start running again, but never stuck with it. That’s for another post. Back to last year. My brother had talked my wife and me into running the Shamrock Shuffle 5k race to take place on March 17, 2011. For my wife, who was part of a relay team running in the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon, it would be a great training run. For me, it would be a way to get back into running. I’ll leave the details of this race for another post; but let’s just say after this race, I was hooked. It’s the anticipation of the start, the agony, I mean, joy of running the race, and the elation of crossing the finish line. As a writer, I should be able to describe the sensation; but I wouldn’t do it justice. If you haven’t run in a race, you’ll just have to go out and experience it for yourself to see what I mean. Since that fateful day in March, I have only run in six races – primarily because races alone do not drive me.
Three children, a wife, a dog, and a full-time job can quickly consume one’s life as it does mine. Finding time for me can be difficult. I’ve discovered that running is that haven. It’s the place(s) I can go for some “Me Time.” I have no responsibilities to anyone. I don’t have to think about anything. I can focus on me; on my stride; on my breathing; on anything I want or anything I don’t want. I am in full control. Some would argue that I am at the mercy of the elements or my surroundings, and to a point, they would be correct. If I am running and it starts to rain, I can either let it affect my run or not affect me. Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t bother me. I love the challenge that the elements bring to the party. Running in inclement weather only makes me mentally stronger. I have a great story to share about running in frigid temps – again, a story for another post.

While inclement weather makes me mentally stronger, other aspects of running are helping to make me physically stronger. Fitness has become an integral part of my life. Last year when I started running, I was starting to gain weight. Now, I have never been overweight, and wasn’t when I started to run; but I was starting down that path. I’ve always had a great metabolism, and for the most part, I still do. I did notice it was starting to slow down. After all, I am in my mid-thirties, and these things happen. I found that the more I was running the better I felt, and the less I wanted to put crap into my body. It has become a cycle, a cycle that has reduced the amount of junk food in our house tremendously and introduced running to the next generation, my children.

Running has also introduced me to a whole new community, a community of like-minded individuals of all shapes, sizes, colors, and creeds.  I have met more wonderful people in the last year than I have since college. These are people who are supportive of complete strangers, people who welcome you with open arms and are willing to give you advice for no other reason than to see you succeed, and because they were a newbie once too. The camaraderie in the running community is amazing.

The bonus reason why I love running…(drum roll please)…I get to spend more time with my wife. As I said, we have three children; so, we rarely ever run together. Thanks to our babysitter and my in-laws, we run races together - something we lovingly refer to as Dates. Yes folks, instead of dinner and movie, my wife and I get our running gear on and go racing. In fact, we have a weekend getaway planned for October to run in the Hershey Half Marathon. Isn’t it romantic?

Running has become an integral part of my life. I owe my big brother a tremendous Thank You for getting me back into running. My wife and children deserve an even bigger Thank You for supporting my habit, er, I mean my running.

These are the main reasons that I run. Why do you run? Or if don’t run yet, Why don’t you run?