Why do I run?

by Kate Blahnik

“What are your weekend plans?” asks a coworker. “I’m running a 10K this weekend.” Coworker responds, “Oh my god, ... WHY?!?!?!”

This is a question I often hear as I’m sure every other runner does as well. Every runner has their own unique response to this answer though. Sure, I have lots of reasons to not run, first and foremost, I have asthma that I have to battle with while running, which is no easy feat as my fellow asthmatics will attest to. I am not fast, I don’t win races or age group awards, unless there are only 3 people in my age group running. Many times, after a run I end up with a pretty severe headache, which I still have yet to figure out why as I’ve tried many various methods of hydration, fuel, etc.

I’m not even always able to run my entire run, sometimes I do a run/walk. While any of these reasons as well as anything else that comes up that day could all easily cause me to say, “No” to running, I still tie up my laces and get out there. I run because I like to challenge myself. I love seeing my times improve, noticing my endurance improving because that last mile was much easier than it has ever been before. I love the feeling of being able to enjoy a run when my asthma is not bothering me, it’s a totally different run for me on these days. I am able to notice the air, nature, people, life, and my thoughts so much better. I don’t look down at my watch to look at my pace or how far I’ve gone, I’m able to get settled into a great pace and even pull out some negative splits on these runs. I run because I like the fresh air. I run because after a long, tiring day at work it feels refreshing and decompressing. I run because I love trails and running is such a great way to experience them. Running often helps me find my inner child, splashing through the puddles when it rains, slopping through swampy mud covered trails, jumping over the fallen tree, doing the limbo under the tree that tried to fall but got stuck midway down, or even stopping to pick up a pretty rock to bring back home with me.

Running is a break away from the daily buzz and stress of life to clear my mind, refresh and breathe (if I can, hahaha). When I run there is no laundry in the hamper staring at me, no dirty dishes asking me to put them in the dishwasher, no work phones ringing to schedule test exams, it is simply me time whether it is me time with myself, friends, or my boyfriend, it is me time. I run because running is what all the cool kids do. I have met some of the best, most down to earth and genuine people since I started running, they cheer each other on, push each other, encourage each other, celebrate together, motivate each other, and are great friends with each other. Running races with these people is so much fun, I’ve laughed during almost every race I’ve done from something I’ve heard or seen. I must admit there is even a tiny part of me that enjoys being a runner because so many people think I’m crazy for being a runner.

No, not every run is a good run. I’ve had plenty of frustrating runs, times where I’ve questioned if I am truly a runner, times where I couldn’t wait for the run to be over, times where I cut it short because it just wasn’t happening for me that day be it mentally or physically but for at least each one of these bad runs I’ve had a great run to celebrate with PRs, furthest distance, no walking, no asthma problems, the list goes on. Each run is a new and different challenge for me to see what factors will come in to play for the day: humidity, heat, sun, cold, wind, rain, snow, asthma, IT-bands, sore legs, hungry, tired, low energy, feeling amazing, felling strong, breathing well, etc. It’s always interesting to see how the next run will play out. So yes, while many of my co-workers, non-running friends, and even family members think I’m crazy for being a runner, I’m proud to say that I am a runner and will continue to be as long as I am able because I love running.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 issue of In Passing.