When I started running, I had two motivations: to distract myself from the bad things happening in my life and to lose weight. Whether it was immaturity, obtuseness or both, it never occurred to me that running could be more important to my life than that. Although I’ve learned to love the sport for many more reasons, until recently, those two benefits remained my only motivation for lacing up.
Anyone who has met me for more than five minutes will tell you that I’m not exactly a picture of good health. I have a wide range of afflictions, ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to chronic back problems and many annoying things in between. People have asked how (or why) I keep running with all of these issues. I’ve always answered that it’s because I love to run. And most of the time, except during the summer, when I’m sweating so much that my socks are squishing in my shoes, I do truly enjoy the sport. But deep down, I always feared what would happen if I stopped. Depression? Weight gain? Who knows?
Perhaps because there has been so much attention from the non-runners in my life about all the bad things running might be doing to my body (“It makes your stomach issues worse!” “Marathons can’t be good for your back!”), I’ve never spent much time thinking about the good things running has done for me outside of the aforementioned benefits of stress reduction and weight loss.
I’d like to issue a formal apology to running, because it has done much more for me than that. Running has helped me to recover from two fairly serious surgeries in the span of one year at a faster rate than any doctor thought possible. Imagine that—running is good for me. It does more than just help me feel more confident in a bathing suit! It sounds ridiculous, but it is true: I had never thought about running that way before. Now, I’m running (and strength training and cycling and kayaking and whatever else I find interesting that day) because I want my body to be able to handle whatever is thrown at it. I’m changing up my training because I want my mind to be able to handle whatever comes my way.
It’s a powerful thing when you start thinking about what your body can do—recover from surgery, carry a baby or carry itself 26.2 miles—instead of what it can’t—like fitting into the next smaller size or dealing flawlessly with stress. Maybe we should all be giving ourselves (and running) a little more credit—I know I should.
Why I Run
When I need extra motivation, sometimes it helps to embrace the little things. Here’s what’s currently keeping me going…
1. I just downloaded the new Taylor Swift song and want an excuse to listen to it on repeat.
2. I have to justify the three new pairs of running shorts I bought last weekend.
3. I might forget to shower if I don’t have a sweaty workout to remind me.
4. What will my family, friends, co-workers, mailman and pet sitter worry about if not the health of my knees?
Danielle Cemprola lives in South Carolina with her Rottweiler, Rocket. When she’s not running, Danielle blogs at trexrunner.com.