Why I Run

It’s always funny to me when people (often yogis) ask why I run.  Because I don’t think I have an adequate answer.  Does anyone have an answer for why they do something that’s second nature?  It’s like asking why you hold a fork or a pen a certain way.

Because it feels right. 

 Because that’s how I do it. 

 I don’t know.  

Recently, newest OG addition, Laura Nelson, asked me this very question, and because she tends to pose great questions (we met last year while she was interviewing me for a Boston Globe article) and I like her, I wanted to do better than shrug dumbly and say, “I dunno; I like to sing to myself and look at the geese along the Charles River…”

Among the many reasons why I need running in my life (as opposed to strictly yoga, yoga, and more yoga) is the space it allows me to think.  Some runners call it “meditation,” but, to be fair, this is inaccurate—partly because thinking can involve so many f-bombs while running.

When I meditate on a zafu cushion or yoga mat, my goal is to observe my thoughts, remain in the present moment, and just be.  If brooding, speculating, or daydreaming occurs, I practice detachment and the patient, sometimes painstaking, skill of staying focused on the moment as it’s unfolding.  When I run, I do the opposite.  I let my mind go there.  I brood.  I speculate.  I daydream.  I visualize.  I talk to myself.  I talk to other people (in my head).  I write blog posts that may or may not ever see the light of day, which means—in a way—I talk to you.  Sometimes, I’m out there purely for athletic reasons: speed, endurance, or fitness.  Occasionally, I feel like I discover some huge secret of the universe.  It usually happens somewhere around the Mass Ave. bridge at sunset, and it’s not so much a big secret as the assured, faith-filled feeling that there are no secrets, that the answers I need have been with me all along, like Dorothy and her ruby slippers and the ability to go home whenever she wanted.

Instead of red ruby slippers, I have neon Nike frees, and I’m not clicking their heels together as much as I’m kicking them up behind me to propel myself forward.  I’m not meditating on the present moment as much as I am thinking about what’s next.  Because both are essential: observing what is and planning what you want next—out of life or for dinner.  For me, these are embodied in the mindsets cultivated through yoga and running, the difference between meditating and thinking. I like the way they go together—like two sneakers, one for the left foot, one for the right. Together, a pair.

Why do you run?  

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  • c

    I run because u told me to. :-) and reminded me that I actually like it. or, then again, maybe I’m just chasing a gazelle in the amazon somewhere.

    • http://www.omgal.com omgal

      Still one of my favorite moments of ours. LOL!

  • http://www.carolynlevine.com Carolyn

    I love this post, Rebecca! I’m with Nicole; it’s one of my favorites! You captured so eloquently the sort-of-like-meditation-but-the-inverse-of-meditation mental space that running creates for me too.

    I would love to see an instructional post or video (series, perhaps?) in the future about running. I was always an athlete, but never a “runner” so I’ve never been taught how to run. I always feel like I’m doing it wrong, or rather that I could be much more effective. It’d be great to get some basic tips and tricks on running form and technique.

    • http://www.omgal.com omgal

      Will do! So glad you liked this one, Caroline. Keep the feedback & requests coming:-)

  • http://fitchickinthecity.com Jess

    I love this! I’ve often answered this question myself and I love the way you use the phrase “the space it allows me to think.” I have to agree it gives me the space I need to think, get over something, deal with an emotion, feel free, feel in control and feel out of control… the list goes on and on but ultimately I think it is all about a space that is my own.

  • http://www.clickthegoodnews.com Amanda @ Click. The Good News

    I hear ya! I *HAVE* to run too- I can’t imagine life without running. It’s such a stress reliever & I feel so good about myself. Running is just plain good for my soul- to be moving, the be outside, to be chatting & visiting with my BFF, to watch my dog run alongside me playfully chasing birds & rabbits.

  • http://www.adesignsovast.com Lindsey

    Like everyone else, I love this! I’m not entirely sure why I run, though the reasons you cite all resonate. Truthfully, I’ve been running since I was 10 years old – so maybe the true answer is just because I always have? I don’t know how not to?

  • chinnessa

    I run for the same exact reasons. Other than yoga it is the only exercise I love to do. Every time I am done running I feel like I have just come out of therapy. I get a lot accomplished in my head.