Why I’ve Started Running Every Day, Especially When I Don’t Feel Like It
I’m different from a lot of other runners, because running, for its own sake, doesn’t do it for me.
And I’ve been criticized for this, for trying to make the best of something that will always feel hard — instead of spending my time doing things that I naturally love, without having to work at loving them.
The obvious question, then, is why run at all? Why not spend that time on something else that, if pressed, I’d have to admit I’d “rather” be doing?
It’s not that I’m so goal-driven I just can’t help myself. Right now, I don’t even have a big running goal.
And it’s not because running affords me 30 minutes to listen to a podcast or be alone with my thoughts, unreachable by email or phone or any other means. That certainly makes it more enjoyable, but it’s not enough.
And finally, I don’t run for fitness, at least not the way I’m running now. My problem isn’t keeping weight off but keeping it on, and running only makes that harder.
So what’s the point?
When I thought hard about this today, I arrived at two solid, honest reasons why I run.
- Running is good for my brain.
- Running is good for my heart.
The first one is literal. I know that after a run, I’m happier, more able to handle ups and downs, less prone to anxiety than otherwise. It’s not unlike meditation. In fact, it’s just like meditation.
The second is figurative. While running is actually good for my cardiovascular system (and keeping that conditioned certainly has its benefits), what I’m really saying is that running strengthens the fight in me.
Because it’s training — even if not for a race.
Training, instead, for life. For times when you need to keep going, but all you want is to quit. Or probably more frequently, for all the times when you want to start, but starting feels so hard.
The training inherent in the daily act of running — facing down the Resistance, getting out there, and taking that first step — is the real reason I run. And it’s why I’m so much better when I run every day.
The Key to Change is Trust
When you’re unable to change something in your life, something that you know you should be able to change, what’s the problem? Most often, I think, it’s a lack of trust. Not in others, but in yourself.
You say you’re going to wake up early tomorrow. You believe it. But when that alarm goes off, somehow you’re a different person, someone who hits “snooze.” Perform the promise-snooze-promise-snooze routine enough times, and eventually you stop believing what you, yourself, say.
And once you stop believing in your own promises? From there it’s even easier to give up on trying to deliver on them. You never believed it for a second anyway, so nobody gets let down.
But you can change this. All of it.
The way I do is by running. Running every day, for me, is a way to rebuild, and then maintain, that trust.
What I’ve learned this year, just 19 days in, is that every single time I go through the routine (it’s too cold, my legs are too sore, I’m too busy) and find a way to keep the promise I made to myself that I’d run every day in January, my heart gets a little stronger.
And so the next time I tell myself I’m going to do something — start something, build something, try something that might not work — I believe it.
There it is. Why I run.
How about you?
(By the way, here‘s how I answered this question a few years ago. I’ve changed since then.)
Great post! I think in many ways I run for the same reasons as you – it helps me to believe in myself and to build trust in myself.
When I started on a stair machine, I could not even do 5 minutes without getting winded. But I did that six days, took Sunday off, and then did 10 minutes the next week. This continued until I was doing 45 minutes a day. The energy and sense of well-being was incredible!
Great post. I run not because I enjoy it either. I run because I figure if I can do it, then nothing else is that bad….
Janice is right. This is an awesome post! Thanks so much for your incredible insight on this website. This is my first visit here and I will definitely be coming back regularly.
Fantastic post. For me, the hardest part is to start, and it applies to so many areas of my life. Whilst I’m very fit right now, I feel stuck in so many ways. Practicing Ashtanga yoga is really helping so I will make a commitment to pratice that every day. I would like to compliment that with 3 runs a week, one long one. Do you know of any online communities that help to keep people accountable? This is what I need.
Awesome insight! Several years ago I consolidated all my frustrations down onto a little post-it note that said “I don’t trust myself”. It’s a long, slow road to built that trust back, but I love your view of literally making it about putting in the miles each day. You related the “brain” benefits of running to meditation, but your comments about “heart” are very similar to meditation as well. Folks who have established a daily morning meditation practice often say that the first major benefit is simply learning to let go of thinking that it matters whether they feel like doing it or not and just do it as an act of trust/integrity in themselves.
I loved this post. I run because I love it — the freedom, the solitude, the joy of being in motion outdoors, and the feeling of achievement. I have yet to try every day, I go every 2 days. At age 52, I’m very cautious with how much I push myself. I’ve been injured training before and it isn’t worth it. I love your posts, keep them up!
Thank you for this article. It was what I needed today!
I fell into a similar change and am happily running 7 days a week between one or two hours based on work load, I live about 3 blocks from a small volcano where Minimalist design and care has been taken to maintain the trail for walking or running is more designed for trail walking or running and enjoying the wonderful view of the city, Coatepec, Veracruz, Mexico. And all the mountains including “El Pico de Orizaba” that can be easily accessed. Before I change this into a tourist promotion. This really makes my running life a privilege. I don´t think that I will ever change. for more physical information: La Reserva Ecológica Cerro de las Culebras o Coatépetl
I appreciate such insight! It was an “ah ha!” moment … A slight but noticeable paradigm shift regarding a little trust issue I need to think on. Thanks.
PS: I also struggle to get started running nearly every January … for nearly 20 years now.
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