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What’s your reason for running?

What’s your reason for running?

How many times have you been asked this question; Why do you run?

Some people run to lose weight, or to get fit, and these are great reasons. Running is also easy to do, it’s cheap, and you can do it whenever you want, wherever you want, a treadmill, in a busy city or a deserted trail. Everyone has a reason.

I get asked this a lot and I am still amazed how many non runners are out there, baffled by what it is we do. Tell people you run 10km and you might get an approving nod, tell them you just PB’ed a half marathon and most just shake their heads. Mention to them you are preparing for a marathon and they mostly ask ‘Why, is your car broken?”

Now, tell them you are entering a multi day, 250km, self supported race that cost the same as small mansion in Clifton (almost) and see their jaws drop. It’ like telling someone you can breath under water; they are in a state of total disbelief, and a typical reaction would be for them to calculate exactly how long it would take to drive the same distance in a car, followed by ‘WHAT the ….??Are you crazy?”

The reality is that running is hard, and that there are people out there who hate the thought of running. It requires effort, discipline and dedication. And after all the pain you usually end up right back where you started, having run in a big, “pointless circle”. I believe we are all runners, with various abilities and talents.

Running out on the trails, or even through the busy streets of a city, splashing through puddles, letting the rain drench us, the wind ruffle us, we begin to sense a faint recollection of that childish joy. Somewhere a primal essence stirs deep within us; this being born not to sit at a desk or read newspapers and drink coffee, but to live a wilder existence. As we run, the layers of responsibility and identity we have gathered in our lives, the father, mother, lawyer, teacher, all fall away, leaving us with the raw human being underneath. It’s a rare thing, and it can be confronting and beautiful at the same time.

As children, and even adolescents, we can respond to this natural urge to run and break into a trot whenever the feeling takes us, as adults it’s not the done thing to just start running at any moment, without any reason. So we formalise it. We become runners. We buy running kit. We set our targets, we download iPhone apps, we get people to sponsor us so there’s no backing out, and once everything is set up, finally we can run.

We push on, running harder, deeper into the loneliness, further away from the world and the structure of our lives, we begin to feel strangely elated, detached yet at the same time connected, connected to ourselves. With nothing but our own two legs moving us, we begin to get a vague, tingling sense of who, or what, we really are. Once you have experienced this, you are hooked for life.

It’s the fabled runner’s high, of course, but by labelling it such we diminish it. It may only be chemicals shooting around in your brain, but after a long run everything seems right in the world. Everything is at peace.

To experience this is a powerful feeling, strong enough to have us coming back, again and again, for more. One thing I know for sure, is that I would be a completely different person if it wasn’t for running.

I love this video from Salomon Running.

Bernd Heinrich is a retired Professor living in a log cabin in the woods of Western Maine. He has held numerous running records throughout his life and has committed much of his time to the study of the natural world. In Episode 01 we look back at this man’s incredible life, his achievements, the lessons he has learned, and what we can possibly learn from him.

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Adam Du Plooy

I am a passionate South African trail runner living in Dubai. I completed the 250km Marathon Des Sables in 2010 and look forward to running various multi stage races over the next few years.
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About The Author

I am a passionate South African trail runner living in Dubai. I completed the 250km Marathon Des Sables in 2010 and look forward to running various multi stage races over the next few years.

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