Many forms of movement — walking, hiking, skiing, yoga — are enjoyable to me, but I’ve had a long-term, love/hate relationship with running. After at one point running a lovely marathon in Ireland, I stopped running for oh, about a decade. Then I would dabble in running again from time to time but soon stop. When I at long last began to run again regularly, about a year ago, I jotted down a list of “reasons why I run.” These reasons still ring true now, and serve as a great reminder for why I do any kind of exercise.
MOTIVATION TO LACE UP THE SNEAKERS
BE HEART HEALTHY. Running is cardio I can squeeze in at almost any time for free, so I see it as an easy complement to my existing workout routines.
GET OUT THERE. I would rather participate than be a fan. Rather than simply spectating and being on sidelines, I want to MOVE!
MAKE PROGRESS. It’s a chance to set measurable progress and meet goals. It took me a long time to realize that perhaps I am (gasp) an athlete. I like to compete against myself, even more than competing against others.
CELEBRATE. Some foot races are more like a party than a competition. If there’s a cultural celebration going down, I want to celebrate! Running is a way to toast my progress toward a healthy lifestyle and mark how much I’m enjoying the best life has to offer. (Having said that, the thought of running a 5k generally makes me feel dead inside. You have to find what works for you.)
IT’S GO TIME. When I’m debating whether to run, I am motivated by these phrases: Just do it. Life is short. There’s no point in waiting.
BODY COMPOSITION. Running helps bring me out of my head and into my body. It also helps me improve the way my body looks and feels at the same time. I love that.
WEIGHT MAINTENANCE. Running helps me build good habits and serves as a tool for keeping off excess weight and body fat over the long term.
TAKE IT UP A LEVEL. I always enjoy walking, but when I run I’m “kicking it up a notch.” When life feels stagnant (or out of control), running allows me to set the pace and move as fast (or slow) as I want.
SOOTHE THE SPIRIT. Running feels good for both body and spirit. It can be meditative.
ROLE MODEL. I want to be a better role model for my daughter, in general and with regard to health. I want her to see me race and hope it will inspire her to set fitness goals, too.
CORE PURPOSE. By running again, I want to remember who I am at my core and what I can accomplish when I set goals and work toward them.
LIVE OUT LOUD. I’m something of an introvert, but ultimately I want to be seen and heard, to live life out loud. Racing can be a healthy vehicle to express those desires.
TIME TO LISTEN. I love to listen to music and podcasts while I run, and running long distances allows me uninterrupted time to just relax and enjoy the audio. At other times, I’ll turn my device off completely and just listen to the sounds of cars rushing by, wind in the trees, or water streaming. Most importantly, at these moments, I can hear my inner voice as well.
So, the list ends where it starts — with attention to the heart. The potential to reconnect with my own self, and my broader purpose to serve others, keeps me returning to this particular form of movement.
Originally published at medium.com