Reasons for running

When I started running nearly 11 years ago, it was mostly because I was too uncoordinated to do the more “popular” sports like tennis, basketball, or softball. Honestly, I sucked at running those first few years. And even after I was in better shape, it still wasn’t an activity that I loved. My high school teammates and I would often scheme ways to short cut our runs and eat popsicles. Until my 20’s, running was something I did to be social, to keep busy, to have fun. These days, my reasons for running have changed a bit (thankfully having fun and being social are still near the top!), so I thought I’d share them with you.

A good run can fix almost any mood. When I was feeling overwhelmed and scared (like the day I lost my first post-college job), I ran. When my heart felt broken, I ran. When I was so frustrated that I wanted to scream, I ran. I ran on the morning that I graduated from college. The day I moved to New York City. The day my grandfather died. All of these stressful events were mitigated by the comforting sound of my feet hitting the pavement. Even if everything else in my world seemed to be going wrong, running was something I could count on to feel the same.

It’s an inexpensive and healthy way to make friends – unlike the Manhattan bar scene. Sure, running can cost $$ (shoes, race entries, etc), but a long run with my girlfriends costs far less than a round of martinis and a cab ride home. Plus, it’s a 2-for-1 deal – I can fit in my exercise while spending time with some of my favorite people. While I love my non-running girlfriends, I share something extra special with my running buddies. We know what it feels like to be on the starting line of a track race, we remember the pain of mile 2.5 in a 5k, we can appreciate the pleasant exhaustion and feeling of accomplishment that comes after a long run. Even though we may run different races or live hundreds of miles away, we share this.

The feeling I get after PR’ing in a race produces an incomparable sense of accomplishment. Maybe if I had kids or my dream job, I’d feel similarly in other areas on my life, but I never feel so strong, confident, and proud of myself as I do after a tough run.

I love running because it’s hard – it’s not something that everyone can do or at least do well. I’m certainly not the best runner, but I’m decent enough. And you know what? When you’re good at something, it’s more fun!

I don’t run to burn calories or to be “skinny”. That has never been a goal of mine. I run because it makes me feel strong, because it enhances my social life, and because it makes me a happier and less stressed person.

After Saturday’s 21-miler, I knew I needed to take it easy on my calf for a few days. I aqua jogged for 40 minutes on Sunday and ellipticalled for 65 minutes on Monday. Can you say B-O-R-I-N-G? I know I needed to take some cross-training days, but yeesh…Sometimes I really don’t think I’d exercise (or at least belong to a gym) if I didn’t run competitively. Luckily, the running gods were smiling upon me because my calf has been feeling good and I was able to get back on the roads today. I ran 9 ish miles after work and was just so happy the whole time. Nothing makes you appreciate running like an injury scare!

This week is going to be bananas at work, so in order to make my week a little more bearable, I took a cue from Kelly and made a big bowl of Mediterranean cous cous salad to have for dinner this week.

Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad (makes 4 servings)


Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup dry whole wheat cous cous
  • olive oil, salt, pepper (to taste)
  • tomatoes (dozen small or 2-3 large)
  • one bunch of leeks, chopped
  • cucumber, diced
  • bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can of pinto or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • parsley to garnish
  • lemon juice and/or hummus (optional)

Directions:

  • Prepare cous cous according to package directions, set aside
  • Drizzle tomatoes and leeks in olive oil, roast at 400 degrees until soft and lightly browned
  • Combine cous cous, tomatoes, leeks, cucumber, bell pepper, and beans in a large bowl.
  • Season with salt and pepper (to taste) and garnish with feta and parsley.
  • Before serving, top with a dollop of hummus or a squeeze of lemon juice. Enjoy!

Whether it be running, yoga, or cycling – what is your reason for doing what you do?

  • Yum, that looks great!

    I think this video answers the question pretty well:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8eXqAWjJ_dE

    About to head out for a run now 🙂 As always, thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amen to all of that!! After a very stressful day at work today, running literally saved me from insanity and brought me back to my senses. 🙂

  • Awesome read, Megan!

  • I loovee this post! I totally agree that nothing makes you appreciate running like an injury scare. I am currently less than 2 weeks out from running my first marathon, and since my 20 miler a week ago my left ankle has hurt every run I do after about 6 miles. I haven’t run since Saturday and have been cross training at the gym on the elliptical. I look at the runners on the treadmill in envy now! I am taking running off until Sunday though but I am much more appreciative of running now.

  • I found myself nodding while reading this post. I have to admit that up until a few months ago, I exercised to lose weight. But now I run and do yoga and go to kickboxing and muscle conditioning class because it makes me feel GOOD. Great post!

  • Great post. I love your reasons for running. I especially agree with “running can change moods.” I love running when things are down because after the run my mood is usually more “up.”

  • I love body pump – i do it because it makes me lean and strong!

  • Hahaha, I loved scheming with my high school xc teammates to putz around during our runs! On nice days we used to run over to one of our houses and swim in the pool, then run back. On cold winter days we would run to this pond and “ice skate,” and then run back. I guess at least we got in some cross-training activities? What a bunch of slackers…

    I run because it slows down time and forces me to be in the moment. Also, racing hurts and that makes me feel alive.

  • A “decent” runner?! Girl, you’re a SuperWoman runner! Your times always amaze me. I run and do yoga because it makes me feel good. Being loose and limber helps with running, so it goes hand in hand.

  • i’ve never aqua jogged before. i think i’d get way to bored or not push myself in the way that i should. and i run mostly to prove to myself that i CAN do something and be good at it. but i started as a way to stay in shape for my sports

  • I can really appreciate this post– thank you for digging down and sharing all this. I started running during weight loss. Somewhere along the way, though, I fell in love with it. And now, whatever the pounds, I want to run. When I think about it, I think much of my passion for it comes from doing something different. Growing up, I was the book worm. I got a full ride to college on academics; no one expected me to walk, let alone run a mile. Now I may not be the fastest one out there or stacking up a trophy case, but I am good at something other than books. I’m good at something that is 10 times harder for me 🙂

  • I joined cross-country in HS because I really wanted a letterman’s jacket and it seemed like the easiest sport to earn a letter in. (Pathetic, right?) Also, I’m afraid of flying balls so…my options were limited.

    Good thing I was kinda okay at running and ended up loving it too. 🙂

    I love that you’re just now coming in to your running prime. It’s been fun watching you shatter PRs all summer!

  • Grace

    Thanks for this post! It makes new runners, like me, have hope that someday it will feel easier and be fun. I love events and get pumped up for them but the training is tedious. I have to have the “I am a runner attitude” to get me through. You are a true inspiration! Plus I am always super jealous of all the yummy food you’re eating in NYC!

  • I’m so glad your calf isn’t bugging you any more! AND, I am going to be repping my new company at the nyc marathon expo so you better come say hi!!! I run because nothing clears my head and makes me feel like a strong powerful woman like running!

  • David

    Hi. I’m new to your blog (I love it!) and fairly new to running (6 months). I was wondering if you had any tips on running in the cold now that Summer is over? Thanks!

  • Running is my “me” time. It’s the only time where I only think about myself. There isn’t any “what’s for dinner?”, are the clothes washed, dishes done. All these things go out of my head and I consintrate on me for a couple hours a day. I love it!

  • Running is such a stress reliever for me. I just haven’t been getting as much in and I miss it.

  • Lovely read. It’s so nice to be able to just go outside and enjoy and have no connections. I don’t know why I run as opposed to other activities, but I posted today about why I eat what I eat. Maybe they’re related? I think I prefer cold weather–you can always warm up, but it’s harder to cool down!

  • really interesting write up about this! i loved how you can remember major life events and that you know you ran that day. i think i am going to have to start doing that so i can have a layered memory of special events… like the day i get married, i will run some specific location/route or something. or “my usual” etc. 🙂

    interesting about the cross-training. you are “such a runner” haha 🙂 i think cross-trianing can become fulfilling if you look at it as meaning something. i give myself goals- 8 miles on the elliptical in 60 minutes is a good baseline for me “now.” when i started the elliptical after my surgery this summer (i never did the elliptical before!!!) i started with 10 minutes. so my goal would be increased amts of time. i also like to set “sprint” goals- so on a given day of biking or elliptical or stair climber i will do 5 2-min sprint intervals. goal= meaning= satisfaction for having done it and increases your likelinhood of doing it again (esp if you want to increase your XT or are anticipating more xt after your marathon).

  • Rebekah

    That was just the motivation I needed. I’ve been following your blog for a while and find it super helpful and inspiring when I’m in the middle of training for something. I’ve been feeling down and not up for a run the past couple of days, but you’re so right – running does fix any mood.

  • Kim

    I started running a few years ago for weight loss, but found myself really enjoying having some “me” time. I never realized how much it meant to me and how much I use running as a way to deal with stress until I broke my foot a couple of months ago. Now when I’m frustrated or upset I miss running even more. On the bright side I start physical therapy next week and hope to run either a Thanksgiving 5k (I may or may not be back to running soon enough for this) or a Christmas 5k. I know I won’t take running for granted any time soon.

  • Running is awesome…If all I do is run the 6 mile loop in CP on any given Sunday, I will have been productive in my mind.

  • What a fun post!

    I run because…it’s fun. I meet other people like me. It fuels the passion.
    http://nycbklyngirl.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/why-i-run/

  • You always inspire me with your running motivation. I won’t be able to run for at least another three weeks (since I just had a baby) but am really looking forward to it and becoming better at it.

  • I, too, love the people, but I also love how I can run the same route over and over again and still see something new and different every time!

  • Ashley

    Love this post! I run because when everything else is going wrong in my life, running is one thing that I know I can get right. I run because it makes me feel like a warrior everytime. And like you, I also run because that feeling of setting a new PR makes me feel so strong, proud and amazing that it is unlike any other feeling in my life.

    But I do also run for a good guilt free cupcake after haha ; )

  • yay for giant vats of delicious creations! That looks great! My reasons for running are similar to yours – it’s just such a great outlet for EVERYTHING – heartache, joy, sadness, etc. I also love pushing myself and improving, and the comaraderie of running and racing with people. I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself through running – especially during this marathon training cycle.

    See ya tomorrow, RIGHT??? jk, jk. 🙂

  • Love it. By it I meant aquajogging, but also the post.

    I run because I’m good at it, sort of. I run because I never finish a run feeling worse than when I began it. I run because it makes me feel accomplished and gives me heartache that is easier to fix that really serious heartache. I run because it brings out the best parts of my personality and tones down the worst parts of it. Among other things.

  • LOVE this post! Feel totally compelled to share even though I rarely respond to posed questions 🙂 I run because I used to not be able to run a mile on the treadmill without keeling over. Because I used to be 25 lbs heavier and got into the best shape of my life partially because I began to run. I run to challenge myself, to try to beat times, to try to beat distances…to keep myself on my toes. And I run because when I am running down the Hudson river on a cool, crisp fall day and I see the statue of Liberty and the beautiful Hudson River Park path, I get a lump in my throat thinking how lucky I am to live in the most amazing city in the world and be physically capable of running…and along those lines I run for those who can’t run or who are oppressed because I am so incredibly lucky…
    Sara

  • megan, i love this. it put such a smile on my face.

    i think there’s something so special about being dedicated to something, whether it be running or yoga or writing or cooking or really anything at all. having an outlet like that, something that is familiar and challenging and comforting and exciting all at once is so wonderful. i haven’t been practicing yoga anywhere near as long as you’ve been running, but i can see it playing the same role in my life. it’s certainly been there to ground me when i’ve been stressed or lonely as much as when i’ve been celebrating or happy, and doing something that makes me feel strong and capable works wonders in my life off the mat.

    i like how i take all your posts about running and turn them into yoga talk. 🙂

  • Hey Megan, Thanks for this post. I’m trying to motivate myself to get back in good shape and being unemployed lately has been hard on the ego! Running has been one thing that I’ve really enjoyed. When you think about cross-training, you should see if you can find your way into a crew shell. Rowing might be a really nice way to break up your routine. Plus, it’s outdoors and the regular rhythm of taking strokes is pretty hypnotic.

  • I run because it’s cheaper than martinis and a cab ride home…oh wait you said that already:) But a run and some delicious pumpkin beer is also cheaper than the aforementioned activity (we will do that again when your work week isn’t so crazy!)

    I also run because I don’t feel pressured to wear heels when I go out with my running friends!

  • I started doing yoga as a means to lose weight but then it took over! I love every aspect of it.

  • @Leslie – I love when you talk about your yoga practice! It’s very inspiring. I always feel SO much better after I spend time on the mat, but for some reason I have a really hard time motivating myself to do yoga…I think we should go to a class together sometime 🙂