Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I Run

With a title like this I could probably ramble on for hours. I'll do my best to keep it short.

I've had a few people ask me recently, why I run? If it's someone I don't know very well I usually just throw out some typical answer mentioning the solitude, the beauty of the places I see on my runs, the thrill of competition, the health benefits, etc. When it's someone I know well though I try to make a more serious effort at answering this question. Here's my best shot at putting that effort into writing:

All of the above things are a part of it but, for me a huge part of it has to do with the personal satisfaction I take from doing something that is 100% my doing. It's satisfying to be good at something that has only to do with my own abilities and my own dedication, and is not reliant upon others. I always feel that I could train better and race better and that keeps me driven to become a better runner. The exciting thing though is that only I can make this happen. If I lose my focus in my training I will not get better. Sometimes that is a good thing for a period of time. When you get that focus back and start to feel stronger and faster it's so satisfying knowing that you have gotten yourself to that point and have not leaned on others to get there. How many things do we really have in our lives that we can say this about? It really wouldn't be healthy for most of us to have too many things like this. Sometimes I wonder if it's always healthy for me to view my running in this way. It certainly puts my running in a position that borders on addictive, or at least obsessive, but I can think of a million things that would be worse to be addicted to.

Because my running is such an important part of my psyche it's pretty wild how much my mindset can be affected by my running. I certainly acknowledge that this can become an unhealthy thing, but generally I think it's been more and more helpful as I've become more and more "obsessed" with my running.

This week started out really rough for me. I was bummed about my Miwok DNF, and have had a lot of other stressful things going on in my mind. I was having all kinds of doubts about whether I really wanted to do any more races in the next few months. I got out for very relaxing runs yesterday and today though, and my mindset improved drastically. I still haven't decided for sure what races I'm going to run in the next few months, but I do feel refreshed to know that I am going to run races, which in turn means I'm going to do lots of training, which in turn means I'm going to test my personal strength and ability even further. I'm excited for that. Life is not perfect, never will be, but my running sure has a way of making me feel like I'm moving forward. At the end of the day what more can we really ask for?


Derrick said...

Excellent post Geoff!

Man, can I ever relate to your thoughts on running. The terms 'addicted' and 'obsessed' seem to be the closest words I have found to describe, but they usually are associated with a negative meaning, so don't seem appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Well put.
Running is always my answer when someone asks what I'm most proud of. On the surface, it seems like a weak answer to a non-runner but we put so much work and pressure on ourselves that when it pays off in a great performance, it's a true accomplishment.

Anonymous said...

i completely agree with your statement about the satisfaction you get from doing something that requires no reliance on others and likewise requires no one to rely on you.

i have felt this way since i gave up my last team sport (soccer) back in high school.

as runners (especially ultrarunners) we get to experience the highs and the lows, the successes and defeats at a very personal and intimate level.

ultimately i think i've learned more about myself through my running than anything else i've ever done.

Hone said...

I run because it is my only defense from all the ladies!!

Anonymous said...

I know why you run, it's because you're an insecure person with a narcissistic streak, and running is the only thing you've really accomplished in your life. You don't have a career, you don't have a family or children, and you've spent your time dedicated to a solitary sport that will soon end.

Just like any true addict you're willing to give up everything else in your life just to get your running fix. The other people you run against have careers and family, and you don't. When their running hobby is over they have other areas of their lives that they've accomplished things in. When your running career is over you'll just be a sad little man in an empty room surrounded by a few running trophies to keep you company.

Anonymous said...

I've never understood why people feel the need to cut into others (especially anonymously). What possible motivation do you have in trying to make someone else feel badly about himself? What's the benefit or productive outcome?

Anonymous said...

I am quite shocked that anyone would leave such a vitriolic comment on a blog that he / she chooses to read. I don't know you Geoff but you come across as a really nice person who is always generous and willing to help others. We all have moments of sadness and loneliness in our lives, whether we have chosen to have children and careers or not. I see no reason why Geoff will be sadder or lonelier than the rest of us and, judging by the hateful nature of the comment, would hazard a guess that there won't be whole bunch of people rushing to spend time with the leaver of the comment in his / her old age.

I don't understand why people judge others so harshly for choosing to live their life differently and yet still read their blog.

Shawn said...

I'm assuming Anonymous 1 is the same worthless low life that left a similar message on Jill's Blog.

For the record, Geoff has family, and for the record he has a wonderful father, wonderful mother, and I hate to break it to you but OUR PARENTS are not divorced and they have been there for Geoff and all of us from the day we were born. They have supported all of our moves in life with encouragement and have especially been grateful for the amazing things that Geoff has been able to accomplish.

Geoff has chosen to live an adventurous life. He has been an inspiration to many and has accomplished more in the past 10 years than most do in a lifetime. He has been to every state in this time and has memories from this that I am sure he will hold with him his entire life.

Why else would you be on his blog other than the fact that his journey through life is pretty interesting?

Before you go judging someone's family and someone's character why dont you learn the truth. If you knew Geoff and more importantly if you knew where he came from and his family... the comments you have made on here and on Jill's Blog never would have crossed your mind.

Anonymous said...

yeah shawn!
geoff is amazing. warm, generous, fun, one of the best friends ive ever had... has many, many friends who think he is warm and generous. without running, i would surely miss the many conversations about it. don't sweat it :), its definitely jealousy, or psychosis.

MOM said...

Way to go Shawn - I agree with you that Anonymous 1 is the low life that has left comments on Jill's blog also - get a life and find something else to do other than judge people that you don't even know.

Geoff has a wonderful family that supports him and what he has chosen in life 100%. For your information Geoff has 8 (and soon to be 10) kids that idolize him. They all look forward to seeing him whenever he comes home and they cry when he leaves. They are his nieces and nephews and they LOVE him more than I am sure anyone could ever love you.

Just for the record - Geoff's parents are not divorced and we totally support Geoff and the rest of our children. We have always been there for our children and will remain to always be there. We have a wonderful family and I would appreciate it if you would stop judging people you don't know and stop ripping apart the most precious thing in our lives - our FAMILY.

Have you ever heard the old saying "you can't judge a book by it's cover" - well, stop trying - you sure can't judge Geoff by the outside. He is an amazing person and a wonderful son - buzz off and find someone else to rip apart - preferably yourself.

Steven said...

Hey, Geoff,

I'm a big Jill fan. Been reading her blog. Read her book. She's a great writer, photographer, and seems like a pretty good person.

Funny thing is, through her I found the "character" of Geoff to be one of the most interstesting people I've read about. I've even sent her an email saying she should write a biography on you.

The life experiences that you have had are amazing. And they are awesome to read about. Some of us, due to the paths that we have chosed won't ever be able to do the things you have done. But at least we are given an opportunity to live them through your eyes. But only when those stories are told.

Does this comment even have a point? I guess it is to say that bad things happen. Everyone wants to point fingers. But maybe there is no one to blame. Maybe everyone is to blame. But does it matter. You can only live your life. You can't live it for someone else or you will be miserable. And I'm guessing you've been at this crossroad for awhile and have had a hard time making this decision because you are a caring person.

Anyway take care at what comes next in life. And if you and Jill can still be friends have her write your biography. And pay her well :).


Nick said...

Nice comment anonymous #1! Clearly, you are being introspective with your words, and as such I feel for you.

If you're so unhappy with your 9-5 life, family and future, do something about it - make a change, life is fleeting. Demonstrating your jealousy in such an anonymous manner will only make you more bitter, and closer to being that "sad little man" you describe in your comment.

On a different note, Jeff, I hope you choose to run Big Horn next month. It is starting to look like there will be a competitive field on a killer course.


michelle said...

Just a small comment for my amazing, wonderful brother.....I know you will ignore the first anon. (as you should) because you are a happy and secure person. I think for anyone who knows you, it is easy to be enraged by the audacity of the comments from anon., but at the same time, being enraged is a total waste of time because people like that will never stop being miserable and they will never change the fact that you are a sweet, smart, caring, funny, talented individual who has always remained true to yourself. You have more family and friends who love and admire you than anyone I can think of, but I'm sure you already know that...

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Steven's comment. I also love Jill's blog and enjoyed her book and I too, found myself wanting to know more about you and what drives you forward in life. Without wanting to take away from Jill's achievements which are impressive, I felt, whilst reading the book, that a lot of the experiences which led to her doing the Iditarod were down to you. I would love to read that biography.

Unknown said...

I run for most of the same reasons, only not as fast!

I just returned from Honolulu and the HURT runners filled me in on the HURT 100. They had nothing but the nicest things to say about you, so you may be on the hook to go back next year.

Hope to see you in Silverton.

Betsy Fischer said...

hey Geoff, just wanted you to know that all of us at Foggy Mountain Shop think you are amazing and we can certainly relate to someone who wants to pursue their passion. Personally - I've only run into you a few times out xc skiing this winter but was impressed by your warm, friendly demeanor, even when I stopped you in the middle of what was obviously a morning workout. You were humble, quiet, and just plain nice. I wish you well in all your endeavors, and as far as pursuing something singlemindedly (um, is that a word?) I say go for it! There are plenty of 9-5'ers out there who are way more selfish and narrow than you and most of your fellow athletes. By the way, hope you don't mind that we are using you as a "selling point" for the Montrail Masochist shoes - I'm glad you are so enthusiastic about them.

Unknown said...


My wife and I also have an adventurous spirit and are in the process of pursuing dreams together. We don't have children but that doesn't make us any less as people. We also have a couple of beautiful nieces who look up to us as role models. We're not your typical 9-5 job folks but that's by choice and we live in a world where that's as possible as it's ever been.

We are all created uniquely with so many wonderful, diverse gifts. It's a beautiful thing to see a person living out dreams & passions as they inspire others. You are a beautiful example of such a person.

I'm reminded of a quote by Dean Karnazes: "When you get off your couch and walk out your front door, there's an adventure waiting for you everyday."

Keep living a life of adventure my friend.


Anonymous said...

A suggestion: Don't post anything on as a blog comment that you would not say in conversation. Life is real. Blogspot is not.

Anonymous said...

I think that needs a 'Word' after it.

Hone said...

WTF?? I do not check out the blog for a couple of days and all of this goes down?

People tend to dislike comes with the territory. I hated Jordan when he would knock my Jazz out of the playoffs. I would say all kinds of nasty things about him. Now I respect him for all of his accomplishments. Of course I was never Anon about it. That is just weak and pathetic.

Speedgoat Karl said...

Hey Geoff! After reading "anonymous 1" I have to say perhaps they were also one of the "anonmymous" commentors on the "whereskarl" adventure when I was on the AT. These people are idiots, sit in a cubicle to save money so they can retire "happy"?

Happy about what?, the boring life they've lived. We live exciting lives, travel more than 99% of the world, all on a small budget.

I remember a few years back when I was bartending at Snowbird and a customer told me I should go back to school and get a real job. I laughed in his face and said I prefer to have a real life, not a real job....he left no tip....I loved every minute of that one.

See you at HR, don't miss the big daddy, you and I will make it fun!!

Anonymous said...


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