As I was enjoying a glorious run through Epping Forest with my friend Rich the other day, this thought reared up in my head as I took in the beautiful sights and sounds of the forest bathed in the Autumn sunshine;
Why do we run? How would I explain it to an alien landing at the first mile marker shortly after the start of the Great North Run last Sunday.
What would it make of all the 41,000 odd humans running across the Tyne Bridge in a sea of colour at different speeds? How would I explain to it why human beings put themselves through 13.1 miles of physical effort and pain on an early Sunday morning?
A few tasty hills Iater, I came up with 5 answers that I think motivate us;
To escape the wild bear chasing us - running provides an escape from things that we have to face in our daily lives. The things that chase, hound and stress us every day. It helps us to relax, confront personal demons, work issues, family problems and give us the space to breathe in an often non stop society.
To reach the promised land - running challenges us. It full fills our desire to get faster, to get new PB’s and often to simply complete by getting from A to B. It puts us on a high. It takes us to Utopia.
To simply enjoy it - we leave the watch at home. We forget about pace or style. We just run for the pure joy of it. To smell the flowers, enjoy the view, listen to the sound of our breathing, share the experience with a friend or loved one.
To make us fit for purpose - we run to get healthier. To lose weight. To make our heart and lungs stronger so we can enjoy other things that are important to us in life. We often run for our children or to get fit to work.
To remember - we run for those far less fortunate than us. To help others by raising money for their charities. We run for those we miss. For those no longer here. We run to remember where we’ve come from.
I think most of us would fall into one or more of these categories. By helping to understand why, it can open our eyes to whether we need to change what drives us. For example 'As a result of becoming so obssessed chasing this PB, have I forgotten the simple joy that running brings?' or 'Do I really need to bring my stress from work home to my family when I can use running to vent steam instead?'.
So why do I run?
I run to improve my PBs.
I run for the sheer joy of it.
I run so I set an example to my clients that I’m out there too striving for the same things that they want to achieve.
I run to help others.
Most importantly of all I run for those who can’t. For those who can no longer run or are no longer with us. I run through the forest in the sunshine and remember them with a smile. Every time I run I remember how lucky I am.
The next time you’re out on a run, ask yourself the same question. You may find some other motivators from the ones I’ve said above or even decide to change the motivation that drives you. If you do drop us a tweet, facebook post or e mail.