The reason behind “the insanity”

Why do I run?

I’ve asked myself this question way to many times in the last few months. No fitting answer. The best so far; it makes me feel good. Maybe not good. Hours of pounding on mainly concrete roads doesn’t allow for the word good. It rather makes me feel free. Liberated even.

There’s plenty of reasons people run.

Number one, getting fit. That’s mainly why I started running. At close to a 100 kgs and a high blood pressure, I was pretty close to heart disease in my future. An 18 kg weight loss and normal blood pressure came as a result of running. So yes. I did run to get in shape.

Number two, Accomplishment. Getting personal bests year after year. A podium finish for the more talented lot. Even simply finishing the Comrades ultramarathon for recreational runners. ( I’m sure there’s nothing recreational about training for this race). So yes, those ever fancy medals waiting at the finish lines and those magical numbers blinking on my GPS devices did make me want to run.

Number three, proving yourself wrong. Ever thought running wasn’t for you. You just weren’t made for that kind of stuff. Thought the idea of running 10 kms itself warranted admission to a mental asylum, let alone 42 kms. So begins the training. Yes I did run to prove a point to myself.

You notice how I said “I did” for all these three reasons. Not that I don’t anymore. A runners body, those fancy medals and completing my first ultra to prove a point are right up there as motivational factors, but aren’t primary drivers. So why do I run then?

The answer came to me in a video I saw recently. An interviewer asks Lizzy Hawker ( an endurance athlete). ” Do you ever stop running?” Her answer was pure gold. “No, it’s better to be moving… always moving”. Seems silly right.

It brought me back to one of the regular morning training sessions that me and dad set out for at the Mahalaxmi racecourse. At the end of 6 laps amounting to 13.2 km we decide to stop. Dad and me have time this particular morning, so he decides to get a foot massage at the ground (Wow right! There’s an area set up for that). Not particularly sore, I skipped the massage and thought i’d enjoy a slow walk in the meantime. Extra calories burnt! A minute into the walk, I feel frustrated at moving so slowly. Walking seemed so boring. I was tired, but the motion of just walking seemed so slow. So I start running for 2 km just because running seemed so much more relaxing. It happens all the time. I’m walking somewhere and I get this urge to start running. Even running on a treadmill doesn’t seem that satisfying. The idea of not moving seems gruesome. Having cut down on training due to exams coming up, most of my long runs have been spontaneous because I get this urge to run. 26 kms not to train, not to get in shape but because I enjoy it. I’ve truly found something I’m passionate about.

I think North Face, has a profoundly meaningful slogan. ” Never Stop exploring”. I don’t think it’s only limited to physically exploring the world and it’s beauty. I’m sure that’s wonderful too. But mentally also, never stop exploring! You never know what passion you might uncover, what self-limitations you might conquer. Next up for me, trail running!

Countless people have tried to figure out what really makes endurance athletes. There’s even so much scientific research on this topic. Some even think it’s spiritual. For now, I think I’m happy with my answer. I run, simply because it’s fun.

P.S. The video I was talking about. Check it out here.


Author: The Kale Runner

Ramblings of an Atheist Vegan Trail-Running Neuroscientist

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