Why Do You Run?

My six-year-old nephew asked me this on Christmas Eve when I walked in the door from my run. I paused momentarily, told him that it was quite a big question, and before I could even begin to answer it, he’d walked off. Fair enough. 

I am not even sure that I fully know how to answer this question. And I definitely don’t have a concrete answer to “when did you start running?”

For me, on some level, running has always been there. Not always with the same desire, passion, or commitment, but it has been there. Most of us have memories of the Beep Test and Cross Country in school. In moments like this, I ran because I was told to in PE, and then because I was asked to for the out of schools meets. 

I think many of us were brought up thinking that running was some form of a punishment. Made to run laps, made to run in the pouring rain (in basically a pair of knickers); it’s all very strange looking back. In my opinion, PE never focused on the pure joy or community that can come from a sport like running. 

I have now been an expat for about 9 years, and have witnessed firsthand how people turn to running communities to find like minded individuals in a new city, country, or continent. Initiatives like Parkrun have taken off, and so many people are willing to donate their time to make the running scene in their local area a success. It’s pretty cool! I can pretty much guarantee that the majority of these people were not on the Cross-Country Team at school. But like everything in life, people are there for their own reasons. Running means something different to everyone. 

For me, currently, I run to concentrate, to forget, to push, to relax, to work, to play, to inspire, to be grounded, to learn, to understand, to simplify, to explore, to navigate, to improve, to sustain, to enjoy, to decompress, to talk, to listen, to connect, to disconnect, to be with my thoughts, to be without my thoughts, to compete, and to accept. 

I guess my real question is, why wouldn’t you run?