For nearly 16 years, I’ve labeled myself a runner. This is a bigger deal than you think.
See, running isn’t just something you do in the morning before work. Or a fun exercise class you join for six weeks at the gym.
Running – and especially training – is a lifestyle. It affects what (and when) you eat, your approach to sleep, how stress impacts your life, what other activities you’re able to participate in, and even how you view weight loss.
If you’re training to run as fast as you can, you’re training to achieve your genetic potential. I’ve always wondered just how fast I can run. To accomplish such a goal, a long-term and patient approach to training is a must.
So for the last 15+ years, I’ve been training. And at nearly 31 years old, my potential is nearly met. I’m in the twilight of my competitive years with only a few good ones left. Soon, like anyone who started training at a young age, I’ll inevitably be unable to run any personal bests.
Is this sobering fact upsetting? Or depressing? Not for me.
Running is the single best thing to ever happen in my life. It’s how I met my wife Meaghan, chose my college, met most of my best friends, and how I decided to be a running coach.
Even if I’m upset that I’ve never run under 4:30 in the mile (my PR is 4:33), 16:00 in the 5k (my PR is 16:02), or run a marathon under 6:00 mile pace (my 2:39:32 PR is at 6:05 pace), I’ve had a deeply satisfying career as a distance runner.
As my training age makes me a senior citizen in the running world, I’ve begun to think about the reasons why I love running. And today I want to share them with you.
Why We Love Running
My love of running didn’t have the beginning you’d imagine: I joined my high school cross country team because I thought I could high jump.
When that obviously didn’t work out, I stayed on the team because the coach encouraged me and the guys on the team made me laugh.
I quit playing basketball to join the indoor track team because I realized I was better at running (being 5’7″ helped with that decision).
Soon I was hooked on running personal bests and for a long time, that’s why I loved running.
But over the years, I’ve realized that running opens doors. It helped me get into Connecticut College, which when I applied had about a 30% acceptance rate. My wife was a runner for Conn, too.
In the last few years, running has connected me with the running community in ways I never would have imagined. And when I travel, I’m reminded that running is truly the best way to experience the world.
Indeed, running is about more than getting fast. It’s the lens in which we view and experience the world.
With that in mind, I asked Strength Running’s Facebook fans, “What’s your FAVORITE part of being a runner?” I jokingly said mine was the split-leg short shorts.
Here are my two favorite responses:
“Seeing Jason in those short shorts” – James
“Making fun of people who wear short shorts with a split leg” – Sarah
Just kidding. Here are the replies that really resonated with me:
“I feel such a sense of freedom and happiness. Not looking or acting my age is a definite bonus!” – Marilyn
“The burn in your muscles after pushing yourself to the limit. Nothing like it.” – Barry
“Just the knowledge that I could go run 10 miles any old time I wanted.” – Cabe
“Not looking my age.” – Colleen
“Having the time to myself; feeling the air and observing the surroundings” – Cristina
“The feeling of accomplishment when I cross the finish line!” – Marilyn
“The end of the run!!” – Lynsey
“The feeling I get when I challenge myself.” – Lisa
“Being able to eat the carbs I love, knowing that they will be burned as fuel during my runs rather than stored :)” – Yana
We all run for different reasons. Whether it’s to get fast, look young, accomplish something beyond ourselves, or able to ogle me in inappropriately short shorts, our reasons are important and help define us as runners.
For me, I run to race fast, explore, meet interesting people, and learn about myself. I know of no more rewarding activity.
What do YOU love about running?
Today, I want to challenge you:
Leave a comment on this post telling the Strength Running community what you love about running.
I want to hear from runners who love running. From those of us who are passionate about the sport that has defined more than half of my life.
Tell your story. What motivates you to keep running? Why do you continue to run, even if it’s not always fun? Share why you lace up your shoes and go for your daily run.
At the end of today, we’ll have the biggest list of reasons to go running ever put together – by runners around the world.
Ready? Leave your comment below!