Reasons to run that have nothing to do with weight loss

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THE reasons people hate running are understandable. It’s hard. There’s physical discomfort. There’s sweat, and there’s definitely stinkiness. There’s the fear of being judged for having wonky form or not being “fast enough.” And did I mention it’s hard?
A lot of people ask me why (or more accurately, Whyyyyyyy?!) I choose to run so much in situations that don’t involve being chased by a bear or chasing after a taco truck. And honestly, it’s a fair question. Running used to be the bane of my existence, and I swore it was absolutely not for me. Somehow, that shifted to running marathons.
When talking with other runners, I very often hear refrains like “I run because beer,” “I run so I can eat pancakes,” and “I run because I really love ice cream.” And honestly, that makes me sad. I am a strong believer in the idea that you don’t have to “earn” your calories. If you want to eat a pancake, you should eat a damn pancake regardless of whether or not you’ve run that day. Whether or not the person in question has an eating disorder, the thought pattern of “I have to exercise to make up for eating” feels like a disordered way of thinking, and it can lead down some pretty anxious, guilt-ridden paths.
I strongly believe in running for reasons that don’t involve trying to control or punish my body. I run as a way to care for and celebrate my body, so running ends up playing a really positive role in my life. The following are my big five reasons why:
As someone who is 5’4”, I don’t often get to feel physically powerful. Running (particularly running fast) gives me a feeling I never experience otherwise, and that allows me to celebrate and appreciate my body in a new way. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I get faster or become able to run longer distances is pretty great, but even if I were to never do more than slow two-mile loops, the sense of empowerment I get from running is something I love in and of itself.
As a millennial who’s quite busy and also admittedly glued to her phone, I don’t always set aside the time and space to really be present with what I’m thinking and feeling. I get distracted easily and feel a constant pressure to “be more productive.” When I’m running, I get to really wade through my thoughts as fully as I need to.
What’s more, I get to connect with my emotions (which is a really hard thing to do!) Running allows me to process and feel everything from exuberant joy to anger to sadness—and there’s something powerful about embodying those feelings through such powerful physical movement. It’s not a replacement for therapy, but it can be profoundly cathartic.

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