Each to their own


Sometimes, as a runner, you may be asked “Why do you run?”. This often comes from non running friends, family, or work colleagues. On other occassions, such as this one, it comes from a fellow runner. On the surface this appears to be a straight forward question. The answer however is much more complex. We no longer “need” to run. We jump in our cars and head off to the local supermarket to gather food for our families nowadays.We no longer have to chase down wild bufallos and gazelles in order to survive.Neither do we have to escape from wild creatures any more that think of us as a ready meal.

So why run? Why do something physically and mentally challenging, as well as being occasionally painful, if we don’t have to? Our own personal reasons for running are often tied up in our reason as to why we started to run in the first place. However our initial reasons for starting are in themselves often very fluid thing. For example – I started running because the Army made me.They didn’t ask me – they made me.Upon leaving the military I had a gap in running but returned to improve my fitness levels. Shortly after that “the bug” kicked in and I ran to see how quick I could be. My primary reason for running now is to keep fit and to enjoy the journey that running has taken me on. this is coupled with my love of  running trails. To that end I probably prove the point in The biophilia hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that there is an instictive bond between human beings and other living systems. The reason I started to run will always be the same. But my reason for continuing to run has changed as I have changed.

Looking purely at “why do people run” and ignoring the alternative question of  “why people even started to run”,  I posed this question to a group of runners on Facebook and asked them to reply with a single sentence. As such they represent a wide cross section of the running community. Here are some of the replies (I apologise to those who’s replies are not here – sorry but I just received too many replies to include them all.

  • Martin To try and stay just a little this side of obese.
    Jo  Keeps my mind healthy.
    Joanne  To be happy and healthy shake the stress away
    Julia It’s my dream to run fast!
    Debra All of the above but also I’ve noticed my skin and hair all look better when I’m running (well after I’ve showered not immediately after I’ve ran lol) x
    Abir It relieves stress by having something to focus on. More effective than getting pissed. I do like a beer as I do tinned fish and instant noodles
    Alan Because I can
    Sarah Because for 30 mins or an hour, I dont think…I just run
    Denise Because someone told me I would never do it but then enjoyed it for some strange reason
    Sarah To escape reality
    Natalie To eat cake!
    Mark It’s the only time I get any peace!
    Jessikha I genuinely have no idea but just know I want to keep running as long as I can!
    Kelly As protection against depression and dementia..
    Sarah A sense of well being
    Tracy To keep the 4stone of that I have lost
    Jodie Because my horse went lame and I suddenly had free time
    Rick  To FEEL ALIVE and to FEEL a deep sense of FREEDOM!
    Ashley-Jayne after training for 12 months and completeing a marathon last year which was on my bucket list to do (had never run before I started training) I got the running bug!!!!! now running makes me feel so FREE!!!!!!! I can be completely at ease on a run and lose myself in the music (when running alone- or part of a great team
    Ben So I don’t get fat
    Elaine I wanted to do something for ME instead of everyone else so tried it and look forward to each week to catch up with new friends and a great stress reliever….
    Joanne To keep fit and eat what I like
    Colin Medal whore; possibly a human magpie
    Sarah To keep myself sane.
    Sally  Me time & escapism from life!
    David  Health & appearance benefits, that and I enjoy it.
    Lee  Makes me feel alive.
    Kriss  To destress from work!
    Angela  Guilt-free chocolate eating
    Barry  Because I love it
    Louisa  Started for weight loss, now I have so many reasons. Freedom, fitness, training, that feeling when you’ve finished!
    Kelly Because my arse needs it!
    Ian Fight back against my asthma (& currently winning).
    Lisa  Cause id end up in jail if I didnt!
    Derek  Fitness and personal challange ‘s
    Skippy To keep up with my kids! (And because it’s me time)
    Lindsey  So I can eat cake! And to feel awesome
    Mark  Sanity,fitness,joy and freedom.
    Stuart Because even being fat and 49 I still think I’m an Olympic athlete

The rea­sons that peo­ple run are indi­vid­ual to each individual, and whilst many are for physical wellbeing (running is a physical activitiy after all so no suprises there) just as many are for their mental wellbeing. Oh……and to eat cake or get bling 🙂  There is no questioning that run­ning is spe­cial and has it’s own rewarding qual­ities to it. So it is therfore of no suprise that we all do it for highly personal reasons