Let’s get started, shall we?
I was asked recently why I run, and the question made me pause. It wasn’t why do I run SO MUCH. Or HOW do I run. Or even why do I LIKE to run. It was more vague than all these. I loved the question immediately because my answer has changed over the years.
I started running as part of an eating disorder, because I obviously make wonderful decisions. I was fresh out of high school and just starting college. I was also well on my way to being a full-blown anorexic–a disorder I was carefully cultivating since I was seventeen.
Ah, weren’t those the days? I would: wake up, run for an hour, come back and eat ~300-400 calories, go to class, eat ~400-500 calories for dinner, go to bed at 8:30pm, and repeat it all over. Sometimes, if I couldn’t make it all the way through the day I’d let myself have some gum (10 calories per stick) or a diet soda (better add 5-10 calories just to be on the safe side). It was just the BEST. After a couple years of this I was receiving all the benefits that anorexics get, like never feeling warm, always being angry, and collapsing in exhaustion.
After awhile–a LONG while–I began to heal mentally for the most part. I met a friend I could count on who understood what it was like to wake up each morning feeling like nothing was going to be okay. Strangely, that helped things to actually become okay for me. Life is funny that way sometimes, I suppose. Anyway, I began to eat, but I would only do it if I had run that day. That’s how a daily run became a habit.
As I continued to grow happier in my day-to-day life, my need to exercise daily in order to eat didn’t seem as important as long as I was being productive in some other way. While that wasn’t totally healthy, let’s all agree to view it as progress, okay?
Eventually, I got to the point where sometimes I would run because the weather was nice, or I had a free moment, or because I downloaded a new song I wanted to listen to over and over. That’s how a daily run became a reward.
Slowly–SLOWLY–running started to separate itself from my eating habits. I still catch myself saying, “I should order a pizza because I earned it today.” It’s hard not to say that, especially in my line of work (I’ll get to that later), but I’m working on moving away from the “earn it” mentality. Someday, I plan to eat a pizza AND go for a run, not eat a pizza BECAUSE I went for a run.
I guess in order to wrap this up I ought to answer the original question: Why do I run? If I had to answer it now I wouldn’t mention food. I would purposely omit it, actually. F*%# food. I ran even when I was allowed none. Food doesn’t deserve to be mentioned.
I run because it was there when I ran poorly. It was there while I was crying (this is difficult to do simultaneously; do not recommend). It was there when I PR-ed. It was there when I finally got happy. And it’s still here. I love it. I have often thought I put too much emphasis on it, but that’s a later-problem if I ever heard one.
Anyway, when I was asked earlier this week why I run I told them it was because I liked fresh air, which I found pretty funny.
-Speak First, Apologize Later