Why Do You Run and How Far Do You Want To Go?

by Karl Gruber
“The running hustle exacts a toll for its rewards and pleasures… Notwithstanding, as anyone who picked up running in their adult years can tell you, the first time you try it, you end up overheating like a `71 Ford Pinto, feel a severe pain in your side like Jesus being doubt-probed by Thomas, and possibly end up bent at the waist wheezing like you’re trying to make music through the broken toe of an old wooden leg.  And that’s before you ever get pushed, in which case there is likely to be vomiting involved. In other words, onset running is a lot like onset cigarette smoking. Anyone who continues after day one, much less for decades, is stunning. So, evidently, there has to be something there that isn’t apparent at the start.” - Toni Reavis, Wandering In a Running World

God bless my friend, Toni Reavis! As one of the America’s premier race announcers and commentators, Toni nailed it perfectly in this quote about what it’s like to start running as an adult. We certainly know that running is hard, and despite some of the adverse bodily affects that ensue after your first few runs – soreness, nausea, injuries and more soreness –most of us “keep on keepin’ on” with our running. We keep at it, despite the difficulty, because we know in the long run, it is and will continue to be beneficial for our overall fitness, health and well-being. 

We keep at it, and then one day, everything just clicks! You go out for a six-mile run, and half way through, suddenly you realize you’re not suffering anymore. You no longer get the dreaded side stitch, you’re breathing rather easily and the first three miles of your run feel like just a block. Then it dawns on you, “Maybe I really can do this. I guess I really am a runner!” Yep, that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

So, what motivates you to keep running? And why do you choose to keep running? It’s funny for us veteran runners to even contemplate that question because it simply doesn’t cross our minds anymore – we just run.

It is fair, however, to ask, “Why do you run?” I want your answer to sink into your very being as you cruise through mile after mile. Once you do this, running becomes a part of your very foundation, and then you join those of us who no longer even have to ask that question of ourselves. Soon you’ll just run to run, because you can run and you love to run. 

I do believe the reason you will continue to run daily is the fact that it will help you morph into a healthy, fit, energized and happier person. And you may not even realize this right away; it just kind of sneaks up on you as a joyful epiphany. It’s that moment when a beginning runner’s agony turns into ecstasy. Now that’s what I’m really talking about!

Once you’ve begun integrating running into your daily routine, you may want to decide just how far you would like to run and race. The beauty of running is that you don’t have to race ever, if you don’t want to. In fact, I have a friend who has run five to seven miles every day for over 40 years, and he never, ever races. And that is ok. 

Still, there is just something about running consistently that makes you wonder how well you would do in a race. Do you want to run a full or half marathon – perhaps the 2018 DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon or some other race? The best advice I can give you is to sign up for the race NOW. Don’t over think it; just make the commitment by paying the registration fee and then start training.

As an extension of your racing, consider how far you think you can run and how many races you feel you can do in a year. Of course, much of your decision about distance and racing is predicated by your overall experience, training, conditioning and fitness level. You may start small but end up reaching for a goal you never thought possible.

That’s what Chuck Engle, the all-time champion of multiple weekly marathons, and Dean Karnazes, the King of Ultramarathons, did. They are just two of some pretty amazing runners on this planet who have accomplished almost unfathomable feats in the distances they run and shear number of races they’ve completed.

I may be teasing you or even trying to tantalize you as what it is you can accomplish as a runner, but that aside, I want you to understand that there is a brave new world out there for you as a runner! Not only will running transform your body, it will change your entire view of the world and then some. Running will take you to places you never thought you’d venture, and show you that you can surpass any and all previous limitations you thought contained you.

So get past those rough first few weeks of becoming a runner, set your sights high – like a full or half marathon – then just run! 

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