Why do I run? This is the question that is most often asked of me. Not by other people, but in my head.
Not in a negative way. Well, most of the time it’s not anyway.
I think about it more so as what is my purpose for running? What keeps me moving towards my goals day after day?
Runners can answer these questions in all sorts of ways. Fun, family, weight loss, mental health, physical health, outside time, competition – all of these and many others are answers that you might hear if you asked a runner what their why is.
There’s really no right or wrong answer to the question. It’s all up to you and the motivations that you have in your life.
As long as you know what your why is, you will always have it motivate you to reach your goals. And you don’t need your why to be constantly in your mind as you are running.
Actually, I like to think of having my why “available” in my mind if I need to draw on it to get through a hard run or a tough period of training.
It’s almost a subconscious way of keeping my mind focused at the times when it’s needed most.
So, what is my answer to the question that so often comes up in my head – why do I run?
I run to get better every day.
Not just at running but at everything in life because I think that running is a microcosm of life in many ways.
I know it might be pretty boring to say that but there are a few different aspects to it.
Getting better every day is very broad and can mean different things to me depending on the day.
Of course, the most tangible way of getting better is to improve my race times. This also might be the easiest way to quantify my own personal improvements.
There’s also the mental aspect of getting better. By this, I mean getting mentally stronger by doing things that you haven’t done before or finding a new or different way to accomplish them.
And then, finally, a combination of mental and physical improvement – at least in a running sense. An example of this is being able to run further distances more comfortably than you ever could have imagined. Doing this, taps into both the mental and physical aspects of getting better because it requires your mind and body both to improve over time in order to make progress.
The most basic way of putting all of this is that I try to take something positive out of each run, workout or day.
Taking a positive away from every day, increases my chances of getting better over time.
I think by having different aspects to my why, it allows me to have the same general focus during my runs, but also leaves room to take the positives out of each run.
Obviously, just like most people, I have days that are very tough either physically or mentally or even both, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t gained something from it.
Everything that we do or have been through, whether good or bad, adds up to where we find ourselves right now. In other words, getting even minimally better each day will add up over time to make a big difference.
Another part of getting better every day is continually raising my personal expectations so that I always have room for improvement.
The process of getting better can be very cyclical because if you continue to raise the level of expectations you might face some of the same challenges that you did the last time around.
For example, a few years ago, when I first started running again, each run had its challenges no matter how short or slow. As time went on though, those shorter and slower runs felt easier.
Then, I increased my expectations and started to want to do the shorter runs faster and add miles to my longer runs. Doing this meant that these new workouts presented some of the same challenges as if I was just starting out again.
After going through this cycle a few times, I’ve found that it’s become a lot easier to be prepared mentally for the challenges of getting better. Sometimes from the physical side though, there’s still some work to be done because the changes to my personal or running expectations are completely new or different and require me to focus even more on getting better physically with each run or workout.
I can honestly say that keeping my why in my mind and making it a daily goal to get better has really been a big reason in my improvements over the years.
At the end of the day, your why should help motivate you to reach your goals and to do the best that you can while in pursuit of them.
So, why do you run?