Running began as a simple gateway for confidence, solitude, and endorphins. Nobody in my circle of friends ran for just for the heck of it, for they didn’t have the desire or gumption. But I did—and it made me feel like a yellow tulip in a field of red roses. At the time, I didn’t own a watch and had no real conception of what a PR or a “fast”, “decent” or “slow” pace was. In those early 2000 days, before the birth of Garmin running watches and high-tech Ipods, the only noises I associated with running were the tap-tap-tapping of my feet, my breath, and the birds surrounding the fence of the middle school track. I didn’t know how long a marathon was, much less a 5k, 10k, or half-marathon.
I was an infant in a big running world—completely naïve of the infinite physiological, psychological, cultural, and historical components of the sport. It was the dawn of a relationship between my hungry soul and the endless road.
Many people’s relationship with running begins similar to mine. Primal, naïve, and beautiful.
Since the birth of this relationship with running, it can take on many meanings. For me in the beginning, it meant mean smaller jeans, a petite waist, and trim thighs. Over time, it transformed into something more—a quiet therapist during life’s rough patches. Later it was an ongoing battle for PR’s and social recognition. At other moments, it equated with a better relationship with my significant other; a means to help others; and a nice contribution to important causes like cancer.
Until recently, my relationship with running was firmly rooted in racing and performing well. It took a few rough lessons to realize that it was okay to re-define the relationship. Once I did, my love for the sport was re-kindled.
There is a common thread among the runners psyche: confusion about the permeable meaning of running. While there is no existing literature about this topic, I am going to take a chance by saying you will run longer, faster, and happier by understanding that your relationship with running can and will change.
Here are some meanings that you may allow running to take on at different points:
· Solitude: At times, running needs to be a time for peace, quiet, and serenity. After a long day filled with deadlines and errands, it can serve as a wonderful mini-getaway. Don’t keep track of paces and times; simply listen to your body and allow it to move at whatever pace it desires. Running may take on this particular role for weeks or months—and that’s okay. Running doesn’t always need to be hard-core. If you aren’t feeling the inner fire to push yourself, just retreat to the trails and run free and relaxed.
· Health: If you ever reach a point in your life where you have subpar health, run with the goal of achieving optimal health—be it weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, or muscular strength. Running is one of the fastest, cheapest, and convenient ways to maintain a healthy weight, and I would suggest it to anybody in this boat.
· Achieving Personal Goals: Racing, competing, and achieving goals is one of the most amazing aspects of running. Everybody, at some point or another should sign up for a race, set a goal, and do everything they can to achieve it. Reversely, if you ever reach a point where racing is draining your more than filling you up—it may be time to shift your relationship with running from competitive to more relaxed.
· Running for Others: If you’ve reached a personal plateau in the sport, you may consider taking up coaching or mentoring others. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you guided another person to running and/or a healthier lifestyle. Perhaps a little outward focus is just the ingredient you need to kick-start your passion again.
· Causes: There are an infinite number of causes to become involved with and support. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and log the miles in honor of it. Instead of running for health or a personal goal, it can be an amazing experience to run for a community and/or cause larger than yourself.
Running is one of the most primal, natural activities that we, as humans, do. No matter why or how you run, the important thing is that you enjoy it. When one aspect of the sport becomes dull—don’t quit; just re-define the relationship.
-Redline Running Company
Why do you run? What meanings does running have in your life?