I’m not naturally athletic.
I didn’t grow up running track. I’m much better at watching cat videos on the internet than I am at any sport. And even though I have long legs, I’m not great at basketball, and I’m definitely not a fast runner.
Yet somehow I’ve fallen in love with running and I’ve come to believe it’s an activity that nearly anyone can enjoy. Even if you’re like me and you’re not super fast, super sporty, or super consistent at working out. I think pretty much everyone can run and gain health benefits – physically and mentally – from it. But you have to first find your “Why.”
My personal Whys vary. Yes, often I run because it helps me burn the calories I consume. Yes I run because it’s healthy for my bones, muscles, and heart. But I’ve found other reasons through the years that get me lacing up my running shoes time and time again. It’s those reasons that I lean on when the lure of couch cushions and reality television marathons threaten to overtake my workout plans. As a supporter of the Together Counts™ program for healthy, active living, I wanted to share some of the reasons I run:
Because I can: Often when I start to make excuses why I can’t run, I think of people in my life who aren’t able to run like they used to, and I go out and run for them: wounded service members who now have prosthetic legs; a police officer friend who became a paraplegic from a training accident; a 30-year old friend who had emergency heart surgery and was given a pacemaker, stopping her in her tracks. I think of them and I run because I get to run, not because I have to run. I feel like I owe it to the people who can’t run the way they used to anymore. (And that’s not to say those things have to stop you completely – I still see amputees, wheelchair racers, and a whole host of others with significant health challenges in races, which is why I think it’s a sport for just about everyone.)
For the “Me” time: In a world of carpool pickups, work stress, soccer practice, and commuter traffic, it’s nice to find little pockets of time where it’s just you, clearing your head. I’ve processed work drama, mistakes, and heartbreak out on the running trail. I’ve literally laughed, cried, and prayed during runs. And one time I even ran into a man walking his 5-foot long pet snake. Sure, that can be startling, but you can’t say that doesn’t break up the day nicely!
To satisfy the primal urge to fight for something. We all have it. It’s why we love movies like Rocky, or get emotional watching the Olympics. Something inside of us needs to see people physically fight for something. Even better, we need to fight for something ourselves. When I push through more miles on a run than ever before, I reach a deeper conviction about what I’m made of. When I finish a race – no matter the distance, or whether I’m wearing the perfect running outfit, or a tank top and a tutu – I feel accomplished. Physically pushing ourselves fills a void inside us that working only our brains in cushy, air-conditioned buildings can’t. It feeds the inner caveman part of our souls that wants to yell things like, “I have made fire!” When I don’t feel like running, I remember how awesome that feeling is and I get out there again.
So the next time you struggle to get active, find a Why. It may be to set a good example for your kids, a way to have some alone time, or simply a way to feel one small achievement in your week. Find it and focus on that instead of the actual workout and watch how much more active you become.
Dana is the author of the #1 Best Seller “Confessions of an Unlikely Runner (A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated).” Dana accidentally became a runner over 10 years ago and has logged a vast array of average finish times since. She is a former White House staffer, and current military reservist.
Or follow Dana on:
For more running tips, check out these other articles from Together Counts!
- Five Reasons to Participate in a Girls on the Run 5K
- Fundamentals of Youth Running
- Born to Run, or at Least Get Moving