Sometimes when people casually ask me why I run, I say “to stay fit”. I leave it at that and let us both go on with our day. I do that because it is difficult to succinctly express the reasons I run.

Some people do it to lose weight. I’ve never been very successful at that aspect of running. I don’t run to lose weight.

At least not the physical kind of weight.

I run to lose the mental weight. The weight that bogs down my life, clouds my thinking, and is behind most of my bad choices. I run to clear my mind, to fill my mind, to concentrate, to forget, to contemplate, and to daydream. Every time I run, I come back a bit more of myself. A bit more – me.

The 11 Reasons I Run:

1. I run because I can

I have it within my physical and mental framework to run. That was not true before and it won’t be true later. But today, it is true. So, I run.

Reasons I run

Healthy and happy

2. I run to sync my body and my brain

In the morning, I make coffee and let out the dogs. Do I command my body to do those things and do I listen to how my body responds? Not really. I spend all day in my mind, and I bet you do, too. But when I run or do yoga or pole dance, my brain has deeper communication with the body to which it’s attached. It has to speak to each muscle and tell it what interesting and extraordinary thing I’m asking it to do. And I have to listen to its response.

3. I run to push my body

What are the capabilities of your body? I love to push to new limits, to watch my strength, endurance, and body grow. I celebrate its victories and understand its limitations. Running has taught me my physical capabilities.

4. I run to see progress

One of the most treasured aspects of running is how easy it is to track progress . While it is difficult or impossible to measure other aspects of your life, running is individual and measurable. Whether your goal is to run 3 times in 1 week or get a personal record for the mile distance, the sense of accomplishment is undeniable (and addictive). When I feel all of my life is stagnant, I set a running goal. Then I watch myself become victorious and lead my life with that.

5. I run to think about important, serious things

Reasons I run

Mid-run contemplation

What sort of things have I pondered on my run? Should I marry my boyfriend? Should I quit my job? Should I write a novel? Basically anything that has happened in these last couple of years has done its time out on the pavement. Running provides metaphorical (and literal) distance from other voices, and encourages me to listen to my own.

6. I run to enter a diffuse mode of thinking

Much the opposite of contemplation, sometimes you have to walk away from a problem to figure out its solution. Running is the perfect on-purpose step-back to occupy yourself while your brain works on the problem in the background. Be warned: new ideas, realizations, and approaches come without warning at mile 5.

7. I run to disconnect from the world

How many text messages and emails do I field a day for work? Too many. Radio, Facebook, advertising, television… it blasts at all of us. Running is my time to disconnect and let the world go on without me, at least for a few miles.

8. I run to connect with the world

The world isn’t what is just inside my head. It’s not just my home and my work and my car. The rest of the universe is out there. Running let’s me find it. I experience the outdoors, I breathe the same air as those around me, and I join a wider community in my runs.

9. I run to create space

Running creates space in my life. It becomes a time that is about me. I can separate all aspects of myself from everyone else. When I do that, I become capable of extending myself to others in healthy and helpful ways.

10. I run to infuse my life with energy

Reasons I run

Pre-run silliness

Energy cannot be created or destroyed. When I expend energy to run, I’m only transforming it. I gain it in my muscles. I gain it in my attitude. I gain it in my spirit.

11. I run to do something for me

Running is probably one of the most selfish things I do. It’s just for me, for my benefit, for my life.

I run, because it’s mine.

Further reading:

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Why do you run?

Do you run for similar reasons? Different reasons? Please share in the comments.