DeAnne is one of the most faithful runners I know. She sticks to a plan, she is positive and encouraging. And if you see her logging miles on Riverside, she’ll stop and talk and give me a chance to catch my breath. And isn’t she lovely?
Many times over the past six years, different people have asked me why I run. Seems like a simple enough question and I shouldn’t have any trouble answering it. So, why do I? The truth is that, just when I think I’ve put my finger on THE reason, the reason keeps evolving.
When I decided to take up running, I was on a weight loss program, stuck on a plateau, and looking for the exercise that would give me the maximum calorie burn. A very dear friend, who had been running since she was a teen, swore to me that running was what I needed to finally get this weight off. But I didn’t jump on it right away. I had a group of online acquaintances from a weight loss message board who were actually losing weight and getting fit by running. They had come from the same place I had been in life and were leaving me behind. And I didn’t like it. In fact, it made me jealous. I found reasons (excuses) NOT to run. But as my friends were leaving me farther and farther behind, I finally got tired of being stuck where I was. So I found a beginner’s running program online, dusted off my treadmill, and learned to run.
Once I “graduated” from my beginner’s program, I discovered the world of organized, timed runs, and my reason for running enlarged. I was still running for the calorie burn, but after finishing my first 5K, I realized that I wanted to do more races and do them better. I found a sense of pride in my accomplishment and I found myself becoming addicted to it. So I began to try and improve my endurance and my time. These runs fed my inner athlete (a word I would never have used about myself before becoming a runner).
During this time, life was getting hectic. The economy and the always increasing busyness of my kids’ activities found me sneaking away for a run just to be alone with my thoughts, or to drown OUT my thoughts with music and the rhythm of my pounding footsteps. These were the runs where I began to notice my surroundings for the first time. Before, it was just about the mileage. I began to notice the bald eagles soaring over the Arkansas River or sitting with their young in the trees. I became of the Monarch butterfly that had been flying beside me for the past half mile, almost like a tiny spirit of beauty and encouragement, whispering “you’ve got this!”. I noticed the leaves changing on the trees, the smell of wild honeysuckle coming from the woods. I’ve seen woodchuck, beaver, fox, pelican, crane, geese, ducks, and hundreds of squirrels on these runs. I noticed the geometrical design the shadows of the pedestrian bridge made and the sun glistening on the water of the low water dam. The difference was in noticing them and not just seeing them. I stopped to take pictures on these runs, uncaring whether my pace was messed up by the constant starting and stopping. These runs fed my soul.
Most recently, though, running has become about sharing time with friends and with sharing my love for running with others who are just getting started. Solitary runs have their time, but there are other times that it takes conversation with friends to get you through the run. The time and the miles go by so much more quickly when you have a good friend to talk to. But whether it’s a long or a short run, this is uninterrupted time with a friend. No children to interrupt your conversation, no distractions of any kind. Just pure friendship time filled with good conversation…or no conversation at all. We can also pound out the miles in complete silence and still feel the support and encouragement as if we were screaming it out loud to each other. These runs feed my need for companionship.
So why do I run? I guess it depends on what day you ask me. Whatever the reason on any given day, I can say that it is always worth the effort. I come home tired, sweaty, and smelly, but always with a sense of accomplishment. And I’ll keep running until my body won’t allow me to run anymore.
Find DeAnne at her blog. She’s great. She’s new to blogging, so go say hey over there. You know you want to.