Found on Buzzfeed.com and written by Muireann Carey-Campbell
1. To redefine your belief in yourself.
“I started running during the biggest transitionary phase of my twenties. Post-university, I was unemployed and unsure of what I wanted to do next. My health was a mess; I was constantly ill, tired, and around 140 pounds overweight.
“From the start, running was a mental exercise more than it was physical. With every tiny victory — an extra few yards, a mile run without stopping — I redefined my belief in what I could do. I knew from then, I’d never be the fastest of my running friends by a stretch, or be able to run the farthest, but each run would give me a different type of triumph.
“A few years on, my life has changed significantly and the average run feels a little less momentous, but I still try to make every run cathartic. Usually, I’ll lace up and run when I’ve had a bad day, or a good day, or run when I need to think something through, and my favourite thing to do is run to check out my surroundings; running kicks come with me on every trip, without fail!”
2. For the sense of achievement.
“My school held an annual cross-country race down a stretch of the Thames towpath — imagine cotton gym-vests and plimsolls. Although I hated every minute and finished close to last, the race sparked my on/off relationship with running, which only really got going when I signed up for the London marathon in 2006.
“For me, running is a journey of self-improvement, but also the best release I’ve found. I love the sense of freedom it gives you, the opportunity to explore and the feeling of achievement. I’ve realised that however cold, dark, or early it is when you run, you never regret it.”
3. Because running is really a team sport.
“I started running to be on my own and to discover things that others won’t see. Today I run to share.
“Social media turned running into a team sport. During the darker and colder days my friends keep me going, because I see them running on Instagram. Of course I can’t stay behind. Something to do with the fear of missing out?”
4. To explore your city.
“I’m naturally nosy and run to explore. Whether it’s London — where I live — or traveling further afield, running offers opportunity to see your surroundings through a different lens.
“You become an observer on the periphery of all sorts of situations. That keeps me running through the rain, shine, and all in between. Other more conventional motivations are a good running partner — mine’s my boyfriend, who always spurs me on another mile — and goals too. Nothing gets you to your finish line quite like agreeing to run a terrifying race!”
5. To switch off from the world.
“I started running as a way to keep fit but also switch off from the world for half an hour a few times a week.
“Most of the time I run without music as a way of experiencing my surroundings with a clearer backdrop. What I like is its simplicity. Only cycling comes close to its efficiency of movement, and that involves significant machinery.
“I’m inspired to keep running by the things that first got me started. The only difference now is I have attached goals and more structure to this activity; however, I still enjoy the non-timed, ‘running on feel’ outings the most.”
6. To find the drive you need for everyday life.
“When I started running, I was almost unconsciously looking for something I could push through and achieve in order to mirror the larger-than-life challenge I was taking on day to day, that of starting and growing a business.
“To me, if I could train for and achieve a half marathon, I could build my dream. It may take a while to get there, perhaps I’ll have to slow down at some points, maybe have the energy to speed up at others; heck, I may even have to pause for a moment, but ultimately I can and will finish ‘the race’ and won’t quit. It’s on that level where running became my parallel to life. It literally became my example and my measuring stick and it has remained like that for me to this day.”
7. To get your mind right.
“I picked up running several times in my life. Early memories included literally chasing boys on the playground in fourth grade, and running as fast as I could away from my brother who I had teased to the point of no return.
“But to really pinpoint when I started my current running ‘streak’ would be to go back about 10 years to a 25-year-old me. I found running again at that point and developed a new obsession with distance. Why do I run? Well, it’s all the things that one might imagine. But really at the core, it just helps me get my mind right. And when the mind is right, the body follows! Inclement weather and dark days only push me more to get out the door, because I know I will feel that much better during and after my run. There’s plenty of things you can choose to do in life to make yourself feel ‘good’. I choose running.”
8. To do epic shit.
“I run to tell juicy stories when I’m 90.
“I started running to relieve stress and loved it so much that I ran right out of a law career. A pair of running shoes unlocks more than miles, calories, or sweat. Every time I lace up I have a chance to answer the question: ‘Who are you going to be today?’ I run to do epic shit. You have to get breathless sometimes to find answers.”
9. To feel invincible.
“It’s funny to be asked why I run at this moment in time because I’m currently out of action due to an injury. It’s been a humbling experience to make me appreciate exactly how crucial running is to my life and highlighted that it’s actually THE most important thing.
“To have the ability to be able to take off in flight wherever and whenever is the greatest gift that I have discovered and I’m so glad that I did! I only started running 18 months ago, and it’s totally changed my life and given me the most pumped, positive superpower. It makes me feel invincible, indestructible, strong, calm, and relaxed.
“Having this enforced period of rest has made me so, so sad that it’s given me even more appreciation for the simple ability just to be able to do it. I will never, ever take it for granted. Even if it is raining and cold I’ll enjoy every moment because I will be able to move instead of sitting still, feeling like a caged animal. I can’t wait to hear that rhythmic patter of my feet hitting the ground when I’m next in motion. The day cannot come soon enough. I want to be free and I want to be running free.”
10. To learn how to love yourself.
“Running keeps me sane. I started running at my darkest depression time — it saved my life and made me understand that I am enough.
“It showed me how to love, respect, and not give up on myself. What keeps me going even when the weather gets challenging is that I can’t [tell myself] that ‘I can’t’ any more, because through running I know that I can. And usually after those runs in bad weather, you feel like the biggest winner!”
11. To hang with your friends.
“Running in winter can be tough when it’s cold/windy/raining/all of the above.
“But if you’re training for spring races and can arrange adventure runs to go see/do/ eat things with friends, it gives you something to look forward to and you’ll have no problems lacing up your shoes and running out the door.”
12. To marvel at how awesome the human body is.
“I feel my most relaxed in my body and mind once I’ve exerted every last bit of energy running through the traffic. I’m inspired by how my body responds to the environment, like the change in temperature.
“What motivates me most after the running is the feeling that my body is weatherproof and that I generate my own heat, my own strength, and I’m adaptable and versatile.
“Running in cold temps is actually easier; human traffic is minimal, zombie hour exists, and the cold inflicts much less heat stress on the body. In winter I like running to get something or making a super-long round trip to forage for pancake ingredients. Running in winter is a greater challenge mentally, but way more satisfying.”
13. To get a fresh perspective.
“I want to say it’s for my health, but to tell the truth, a run changes my attitude.
“I want to be better inside out, so I run more. It gives me a new perspective in life. I know [that] sounds far from one leg in front of the other, but that’s it. Go longer, faster, harder, and see yourself differently.
“I run in snow because I’ve got to run and the snow makes the trail so magic. The sounds are different and everything is changed. Charge the cold instead of avoiding it. Plan for a warm car and hot chocolate after!”