Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What is your "Why"?

I run because I love the trails and nature!

I have been reading a lot of blogs and comment posts lately and what I found, and I guess took for granted, is that everyone’s "Why" is different. We all can have many reasons why we run.  And these “whys will change over time, meaning that the type of running we do will change over time.  Some of the reasons I have found are:

  • ·         Speed
  • ·         Distance
  • ·         Test your limits
  • ·         Keep healthy
  • ·         Love the trails and nature
  • ·         Love competition
  • ·         Constantly raising the bar

Why do you run?

As I have stated in the past, I wasn’t always a runner.  In fact, I had bought into the argument that running isn’t good for your body.  It damages your knees, causes irreversible damage to your heart, it is addictive, etc.  This was primarily due my upbringing.  So I focused on bicycling to stay fit. 

The only time I enjoyed running was when I was a sophomore at Stadium High School.  We would be given a choice of running the track or running the trails below the school and of course I would pick the trails.  I really enjoyed running on the soft but technical terrain through the Douglas Fir overlooking Commencement Bay in Tacoma.  There was something peaceful about it.  I would also try to run from my house, along the streets, but I didn’t have the same motivation.  My “Why” back then was that I loved running because I could be in and see nature.
I run because it is something that I enjoy with my wife.

More recent in life, my wife and I started running for health.  We were both overweight, and chose running as something we could do together.  We would also include our children, either in running short distances, riding bikes, etc.  So our running was done as a family.  It was a great way to keep balance as well as to reach our goals.  In fact, our why for running marathons and trail runs is to keep focus on our “whys” for running, being healthy and activities with the family.

However, to balance out our running, we have really begun to focus back on the trails.  We love being out there, running the creeks, seeing a bobcat, tarantula, or snake every once and awhile, pushing our limits on the hills and distances.  In fact we kind of get bored running our long runs on the road.  So our additional “Why” is just the enjoyment of the wilderness.

It is funny though how one person may feel their why trumps all other reasons.  For example, recently I posted a question on LinkedIn asking “ Are trail runners really runners?”  I then post a link to the blog post of the same name.  While the premise of the question was to answer the question that if a trail runner walks some of the hills do they fit in the definition of a runner.  As any reasonable person would answer, most people said yes, a trail runner or any runner for that matter who walks a portion of a run no matter for how much is a runner.
Another Reason I run: It is a family activity!

However, when the argument broke down, it was due to the interpretation of the question filtered by runners “why”.  For example, one commenter stated that anyone who runs over an 8:30 pace wouldn’t be called a runner, and someone suggested the threshold should be at 16 minutes.  Their reason for running was more for the competition and for speed and they felt that their reason trumped everyone else’s reason.

It is interesting that we can forget our most important “whys” for running.   On a recent podcast on Trail Runner Nation,  one of the interviewee’s  (ashruns100s) who has run a few hundred mile races suggested that she had lost her “why” for doing these races and she was ready to do something else.  This has been also expressed by Sarah Lavender Smith and Footfeathers.

However, with further examination, we all have a why.  After her podcast, ashruns100s did a self examination and provided further explanation of what her "why"is as well as discussing the need for a "why."

On the flips side, when you visit the different runner’s blogs or read about different endeavors, you can found out their reason for running.  For example, if you go to Leor Pantilat’s blog, you can easily see that his love of nature and photography trumps competition as the focus of his reason for running.  Or how Dean Karnazes desire to push the limits of his body is his why.

So at the end of it all, we all have our own reasons for running: whether distance or speed, trail or road, etc.  The greatest challenge we have as runners is remembering our why and nurturing it.   

So what is your “why” for running?


  1. wait...our "why" is to stay healthy?? I thought my "why" was because I get to stare at your awesome back-side mile after mile.

  2. Hahahaha Beth! You are too funny.

    I seem to have lost my why right now. I am so in sloth mode. Very irritated with myself.

    1. Is this Diane, as in Mrs. NTL??
      Diane as in just did CIM, and heading towards Way Too Cool 50k, Diane as in laying down some speeding times as of late?? Diane as in you are so speedy that your hubby injured himself trying to keep up with you? : )
      Your sloth mode puts us all to shame!
      Slumps happen, but you've got an exciting year of races ahead, you'll get back your mojo in no time!

    2. I guess that is this Diane! It sounds much better the way you put it! I hope you are right.

  3. My "why" started out as "just to get in better shape". Then I discovered trails and the unique challenges they pose. So while I still try to get in better shape, the "why" is largely now more along the lines of "I love being in nature and challenging myself and being among others that are doing the same thing". And it's something that I can do with Diane and the rest of the family, each at our own level. And there are SO many fun people (such as you and Beth) that we get to play with! And… OK - I'll stop now.


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