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?