So, some people think I'm crazy to run 1 mile, much less marathons. They don't understand why I do this and why I think it's fun. I'm not sure I fully understand it all the time, but I'm going to try and make sense of it here with my Top 10 Reasons Why I Run (in no particular order).
1. I learn something about myself when I run
Running gives me a lot of time to think. I learn who I am as I run, not only because of all that time, but also by how I run. If it's a hard run, I find out that day if I'm strong or not. I may realize something about myself as I think about my life and what is important to me. Or something I see along the way may remind me of something from my past. Running can be a very introspective experience.
2. I'm a social runner
Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I wake up at 5 am to go and run. I don't have to wake up this early to run and get to work, but some of my friends do, so I do it. This is three times a week where I get to go and run with my dad and a group of our friends and just chat, swap stories, and have a good time, all while also running. We sometimes even run races together, which makes it all worth it.
3. I strengthen myself
So, this one is kind of two-fold. I am obviously strengthening my body in many ways. I won't go into that here, but there's lot of research on that. What I'm talking about here is more an emotional and mental strength. When I get to the last three miles of the marathon and I'm basically dead, it's this strength that gets me through. I know that I have trained for it and that I can finish. As we've all heard, "Running is 90% mental and the rest is physical".
4. It helps my mental health
Speaking of strengthening myself emotionally and mentally, running is good for my mental health. This strength that I gain does more than just help me at the end of a marathon. It helps me to fight off the depression and anxiety that I sometimes experience and gives me the mental fortitude and discipline to do the things I need to in life to make myself better. How's that for a benefit of running!
5. I can eat what I want
As an athletic trainer, people assume that I eat correctly, but I don't. I know I should and I'm working on it, but one of the benefits for me of running is that I can eat what I want and most the calories get burned off as I run. I just have to be careful with this, because if I stop running but keep eating....
6. I sleep better
I've had trouble sleeping since I was a teenager, so this one is just great. When I am consistently running, I sleep better, which ultimately makes me a better person, or at least a less grouchy one.
7. It gives me bragging rights
Let's be honest, if you run a marathon, you tell everybody about it. This is part of being a runner. I love to tell people that I've run 11 marathons, or that I ran 15 miles that morning and it was no big deal. It's the vain side of me, I know, but I like it. And I'll continue to do it. Let me know when you find somebody who has run a marathon and never told anybody about it.
8. I get to set and (hopefully) achieve a goal
So, sometimes my goal is just to finish the race. But you know what? That's more than can be said for many people. Other times I have a time goal and I train to achieve it. Sometimes I do, but sometimes I don't. If not, it gives me a chance to assess what I did wrong, and then to try again. My marathon PR of 3:34:59 may not be record setting, but it's something that I'm proud of and gives me a goal to beat someday in the future.
9. I get to try new things
I did a race this last January that I never thought I'd ever do, and it was awesome! It was the Frigid 5K and Penguing Plunge in Utah County. After running the 5K with my wife, we went and stripped down and jumped into a hole cut into Utah Lake, in the middle of winter! I would have never done this if I was not a runner.
10. I just think it's fun and it makes me feel good
At the end of the day I don't think I really need any of the above reasons to like running or to justify to anybody why I like it. When I'm out running, I just like it. It makes me feel good and I'm going to keep doing it as long as I can.