Why Do You Run?

One of the questions I ask most people I talk to and every single person I work with is, “Why do you run?” If running isn’t their thing, there’s the equivalent question for their sport, for working out, or their preferred style of movement. Why is a big question, and not one usually answered that easily, but I find that simply by asking you, “why?” you start thinking more about your answer, even after our conversation is over. There’s usually a first response that comes right off the top of your head or from the practiced response you give to everyone who asks. Something pretty general and understandable, like, “because I love it,” or “because I’ve done it my whole life.” Even something a little deeper like, “it’s just a part of who I am,” or, “I’m training for life.”

As I nod my head “yes” at you, feeling the familiar resonance of my own responses when people ask me “why,” I also look a little deeper into your face and your eyes, and wonder what else there is to your answer and your story…

“Why?” has so many layers of answers. There are many reasons that together like puzzle pieces make up your motivation, calling, dedication, and commitment; so many drivers that influence your behaviors, choices, priorities, and actions from day to day; so many elements of fuel that feed your drive, your desire, your ability to keep going and push through difficulty, and your need to have this movement in your life.

“Why” is also open for evolution and development over time. Why you ran when you started is probably different than why you do now. Why you race might be different than why you train for races. Why you need solo time on the road or the trail might be different than why you stay connected with your run crew, running buddies, or fitness community. And all of these “whys” matter. I’m simply challenging you to ask yourself the question and be open to exploring what you discover when you seek out—and maybe even find—the answer.

How do you channel your why into how you train, plan, organize and prioritize your time? How do you elevate the significance of your why through the confidence you build and the way you talk to yourself during your runs, as well as before and after them?

And can you make running, or whatever your movement is, more meaningful by focusing more on why you do it? You bet your ass you can. That question: “Why?” is literally asking you to say what it is you want to get in return from your investment of time, energy, and heart (not to mention some money likely as well). But are you getting it? If you run because you love running and it ‘makes you feel free,’ but most of your reflections on running are about how hard it is, how frustrated you are with how it’s going, or all the time you “have to” spend doing it, then you’re not getting out of it what you want. Your experience and practice of running isn’t giving you love and freedom. But it’s hard to let yourself see that sometimes—because it also probably feels hard to change that.

So why do you run?

It’s okay if it’s hard to answer. And it’s okay if you don’t know how to change it yet if you’re getting out of it just isn’t matching up with why you do it. I’m challenging you to ask the hard questions and to have the courage to explore the answers. And I want to know why you run—go ahead and share it with me. Then if there’s more to talk about, let’s explore it together.