Why Do You Run?

The boy who sits behind me in Advanced Information Systems class asks me how I feel about the sport of running. “I absolutely love it,” I tell him, but this simple statement just isn’t enough to express how much running means to me. I have written about it countless times and continue to tell my friends why I am so passionate about the sport. Simply put, I have always defined myself as a runner not only because it helps me maintain my current level of health and wellbeing. The sport has also helped me overcome personal adversities that I have undergone throughout my years as an adolescent. But my relationship with running doesn’t always convey idealism and progress. This morning, I woke up thinking, I don’t want to run today. Why do I even do it in the first place, completely regretting the fact that I have ever labeled myself as a runner. Later in the day, I came to the resolve that I simply won’t feel as energetic without it, as I was experiencing endorphin withdrawal[1].

After the halfway point of my run, I kept thinking, Running hasn’t felt this good in a long time, as the healthy blood traveling through my veins relieved the headache I had earlier. I turned left onto Richmond Highway where I stared, wide-eyed, at a monstrous hill. The ferocious incline stretched for about 300meters, and I only had two options: either reroute and let fear decide the outcome of my run, or tackle the hill with every drop of courage running through my veins. As the cool April wind kissed my skin and UV-rays greeted me on my way up the hill, I took several moments to acknowledge how I felt. The fear was just one illusion. I could hardly remember the last time I had felt this alive, and powerful, and strong, and beautiful all at the same time. Goosebumps arose on the back of my neck as the breeze helped perpetuate this feeling of euphoria. I crested the hill with knights in my heart that overcame a beast.

So while the boy who sits behind me in Advanced Information Systems class genuinely asked how I feel about running, little did he know that one sport could make such a powerful impact on thousands of individuals; people who become runners to lose weight, meet new people, or to simply find a way to enjoy life in its purest and richest form. I want to tell him all the things that I love about the sport. In fact, I wish everyone understood why I am so passionate about such a simple activity. But you will never truly understand unless you experience it for yourself. Experience the feeling of goosebumps arising on the back of your neck as a smile comes across your face because of how powerful you feel. Experience your heart beating slowly, rapidly, hard, or soft, as it reminds you that you have a purpose and that nothing can make you feel more alive. This sport makes oxygen and health feel like a luxury… because they truly are facets of life that should not be taken for granted. With my 30-minute run today, I know that I appreciated the world around me and my body to a great extent. I am thankful for the powerful quadriceps that help propel my bodyweight off the ground, for my arms that continue to pump even after fatigue has spread through my triceps. I am thankful for the heart inside my chest that was so deeply overwhelmed with happiness and confidence that the only way I could respond was to smile as I attacked the hill on Richmond Highway. And as the drivers who whizzed past me wondered, Why is that runner smiling, I know that they truly won’t understand what’s so great about running until they experience it for themselves. But for now, just let them wonder.

[1] Endorphin withdrawal can entail headaches, grogginess, and an inability to focus, which signal the body’s craving for the release of “feel good” hormones called endorphins.


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