As I get older, I start to think more about why I engage in certain activities. I’m not saying that this is a newfound sense of wisdom, but I think it’s part of the maturation process. And, at the ripe age of 36, maybe I’m finally maturing. I know my wife would appreciate that.
In any event, I was asked a couple of weeks ago what keeps me inspired and motivated as a runner. Honestly, I’ve given this a lot of thought lately and have found a few simple reasons with their own complexity:
- I want to see just how far I can push myself.I want to know what my physical limits are as an adult. I will obviously slow down at some point, but today is not that day, and tomorrow won’t be that day, either. Will I be as fast as I was in high school? I don’t know. And, trust me, I wasn’t winning any races in high school. But I’ll be damned if I won’t try to find out.
I was lazy after my last HS track meet (the Nebraska state meet in 1998) until 2012. I didn’t run much. Frankly, I maybe ran 20 times in those 14 years.
In 2012, I subconsciously decided to go for a run after watching the USA Olympic Trials in track. Having run track and XC in high school (at an average skill level at best), I suddenly missed it. I can’t say that it was any one performance, or any one individual, that got me hooked, because I don’t know that it was that simple. But it got my ass out the door.
Fast forward to today – I’m 4+ years into my adult running journey. I’m still a middle-of-the-packer. My PRs are nothing sexy: 5:38 mile; 43:19 10k, 138:03 half marathon. But, I know I have more in me, and I know that this journey takes time, and I am willing to get behind the wheel.
- I’m surrounded by positivity.Through the running community, I’ve made some of the best and most supportive friends imaginable. When I have a bad day, they pick me up. When I have a good day, they’re there to congratulate me. They help me see the positive in every adventure and help me expand my horizons in ways unimaginable.
Before 2014, I didn’t know there was anything longer than a marathon. By the end of 2014, I’d run a 50k. These friends (sometimes I’d rather call them “enablers”) help me break down my mental barriers of my perceived limits and push me outside of my comfort zone. For that, I’m eternally appreciative.
- I want to show my kids that no one can hold you back except for you.I have 3 kids, all of them under the age of 10. They approach the world with so much enthusiasm and creativity. At some point, someone will try to stifle that creativity. At some point, someone will try to kill their ambition. At some point, someone will try to tear down their sense of self-worth.
Running is simply a vehicle to prove that something is possible if you work hard enough for it. It’s a way to give the middle finger to doubters who think we have a limit to what can be accomplished.
When my kids see me run a race, or finish a training workout, or do yoga, I want them to see someone who won’t settle. I want them to be anything they want to be; do anything their heart desires. When we settle, we allow ourselves to be limited. They need to see that this world has no limits.
Running is cathartic. When I look back 5 years, I really wonder what filled the void that would exist if I didn’t do it. While running doesn’t define me as a person, it helps shape me. If I were told tomorrow that I had to hang up my shoes, I’d be ok. I’d be disappointed, but I’d survive. I’d find another physical outlet. But you’d better believe that I’d put myself through hell doing it to become a better person.