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The Collective Running "Why"




I’m about to get super woo-woo.


I’ve been contemplating my personal running “why” for a long time. It is a constant evolution, a work in progress. When I think about why I run, I know that I sometimes lean a little too heavily on outcomes and expectations for my liking. Recently, I’ve been learning to lean into a why that puts community and relationships near the forefront. Because of my nature, I revere the challenge that running presents regarding self-discipline and growth. And a big part of my why has always been what I consider self-care from a physical and mental perspective.


I think if you were to ask any runner why they run, you would hear a multitude of answers, from the pursuit of progress, character development, mental health, physical health, friendship, adventure, setting an example for their kids, and maybe even the outright desire to win or set records. All of these are totally valid, and we are all on our own running journeys. But the more I think about it, the more I realize they all point back to one thing: engagement.


If you run for your mental health, you run so that you can engage better with your world and the people in it. If you run for your physical health, you run so that you’ll be around longer to engage with the people you love and feel better doing it on a daily basis. If you run to push yourself to get faster or run farther, you are engaging in a process of self-exploration and growth. If you run to explore new places, you are engaging with the tangible, physical world - likely with a sense of wonder and awe.


There’s nothing to me about running that isn’t about how we engage in our lives, the world around us, and our relationships in it.


I think we often feel like running is selfish. Like we are only doing it for ourselves. And I know it often feels that way (hello, mom guilt), but when you think about it from the perspective of engagement, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. To me, it’s about fostering better connections, whether it’s with ourselves, our loved ones, or the physical or natural world. It’s about being able to better engage in the present, it’s about being able to bring your best self forward when it counts. It’s about being able to process hard times when things don’t go as you’d hoped. It’s about time to reflect on how to do or be better next time. It’s about giving yourself the time to check out when you need a reprieve from the demands of the world.


It is about so much more than putting one foot in front of the other.


In order to live a more fulfilling and purposeful life we need to be engaged in every step of the way. Running is about connecting more deeply with the gift of being alive.


What is your why? Do you feel like this tracks?

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