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Why I run

January 12, 2014

I often ask myself this question. Though I rarely look into it too much. I just take for granted that running is what I do, and I enjoy it, so there seems not much else to say. But, putting myself in anothers position. How could I make them understand what running means to me?

Most peoples opinions of running are so clichéd and clouded by presuppositions. Such as, “Oh, they must be a fitness freak”, “They take life too seriously”, “They don’t know how to relax and enjoy life.”, “They are just showing off how far they can go.” “They are single-minded and selfish.” “They are trying to take the moral higher ground.” 

None of this really scratches the surface of why I, or why others, run, I don’t think. To be willing to put yourself to the limit like that, to exert yourself with no one for company. To, nakedly expose yourself to your own absolute physical limitations. It takes something beyond selfishness or showing off, or moralising. It takes a deeply felt passion.

There are so many reasons I could give for why I run:

  1. I enjoy it.
  2. It lifts my mood.
  3. It wakes me up and gets me going for the day
  4. It keeps me slim 
  5. It feels invigorating and healthy
  6. It feels natural
  7. It gives me a challenge
  8. It gives me a chance to go to a gym and be amongst like-minded people

I could go on with much more I would think. But here are some things that certainly aren’t the reason why I run:

  1. To beat people. (I haven’t competed for years, and if I do this would still not be my motivation. My motivation would be reaching personal goals and achievements that I could be proud of.)
  2. To put other people down. (Just because you may see me run, and think you could not do this, or would not want to do this, that doesn’t mean you should be disheartened somehow. Running is not something suited to everyones natures. And also a strength in running invariably entails a weakeness in some other aspect of life. I can run for hours, but my communication skills are such that I often feel exhausted after a few minutes of chatting. This activity takes a lot of effort for me, and just doesn’t come naturally like running.
  3. Out of self-obsession. Running is less a self-obsession for me, and more an outlet for frustrations at inabilities to express myself well to others.
  4. Taking life too seriously. This is something I can have a problem with in other areas, but even here, running provides an escape from these problems. A hard run, better than almost anything else will free you from attachment and taking certain things in life too seriously.
  5. To take the moral higher ground. Moralising at others is something I never do, and is something that annoys me a lot when others try to do this to me. There is no higher ground in running for me, it is simply what I enjoy doing. When you are not enjoying your running, then you may be only doing it for moral reasons, but you should never let yourself be motivated in negative ways like this.

So I hope I have done something of benefit here to explain to an outsider what motivates a runner to run. There are so many misunderstandings out there, which comes largely from the fact that many people simply are not motivated in this way, so it seems alien to them.


  1. Jim Brennan permalink

    I like that running is an escape from taking life too seriously. That is perfect, and I can relate completely.

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