I’ve been running fairly regularly since I started training for my first race in 2012, and 4.5 years is by far the longest I’ve stuck with any sport. I was raised to value mental pursuits over physical, and while my mom didn’t let me quit piano till college, she readily let me drop basketball (HAHA) and track, which were followed by brief stints in crew and taekwondo in college. So how or why have I stuck with running for so long?
If I’m being honest, there have been several moments over the past few years when I’ve considered “breaking up” with running and finding a new activity/sport because I got bored or felt slow or wanted my Saturday mornings back ;) Whenever that happens, I try to think about why I run and want to continue running. This is the list I came up with the other day:
1. Running is fun for me – this is the #1 reason I keep running. Summer or winter, rain or shine, I still enjoy most of my runs and feel like a rockstar at the end. It’s not easy to get out of bed and go for a run first thing in the morning, but remembering how great it feels once I’m running helps me get out there.
2. Running gives me identity – While the core of my identity is my standing as a child of God, I’m also a big believer in the idea that the more traits you identify with, the more stable you are when your world is rocked. I NEVER thought of myself as a sporty or physically capable person before I started running, so it still gives me a thrill to say “I’m a marathon runner” in conversations. Identity also gives you ground on which you can connect with others – I love talking with others about their favorite running paths, races, and training experiences.
3. Running makes me gritty – I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast on grit while running last week; grit is the character trait of determination or stick-to-it-ivness that comes in handy for many events in life. Like I said earlier, I’ve quit plenty of things before, but I’ve stuck with running for a while and it’s taught me how to stick with something even when the going gets tough and how to maintain passion past the initial rush of interest. I can’t prove that grit has translated to other areas of my life though, haha.
4. Running makes me feel good about my body – I know I’ve talked about this on the blog before, but I really think one of the best antidotes to my inner negative body talk is exercise. I don’t always lose weight while running, but I do always gain appreciation (see what I did there?) for what my body is capable of and it helps me see my body as beautiful and strong.
5. Running has many aspects to seek improvement – Improvement and progress in something really help me to stick to an activity/hobby, and there are so many ways to improve in running! In different seasons, I find myself working on endurance, speed, hill strength, my mental game, consistency, form, or even exploring different trails. There are so many ways to track and see progress and keep running from getting boring.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with quitting (look at my track record!), and sometimes quitting is the smart thing to do to free yourself up for something you want to do more. But I’ve also invested a lot of time (and $$) in running over the past couple of years and I’m not ready to give it all up just yet :)