With my two big summer goals getting closer every day (that’s what happens with things in the future), running has been dominating both my thoughts and conversations lately (sorry for that).
The amount of things to take care of before I can even go run the Ardennes Megatrail and especially CCC of course has something to do with this. It’s almost discouraging: A place to stay, an obligatory Megatrail that makes you dizzy, doctor certificates, … It kind of spoils the fun of the whole thing, I just want to go for a run!
On the other hand, however, a lot of those thoughts and conversations have been dealing with something I’ll never be able to explain because I don’t fully understand it myself. It’d be a bold move to try to transfer the train of thoughts or feeling or however you want to name it. And that’s exactly what I’m about to do.
Why do I run?
Superficially, it’s quite simple: I used to do athletics when I was a kid, and running a marathon is, to most people, the pinnacle of the whole sport. And why I started doing athletics in the first place is just as simple: my older nephew did it, so I wanted to do it. End of story!
Or is it? With the marathon scratched from my bucket list, why do I still run today, and why this much? Surely I have these goals I want to reach, but where does it end? First it was a marathon, now it’s UTMB (but first CCC of course).
Honestly, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason why I run. It relaxes me and gives me the time and distance to put the things that happened that day or week into context. Although an hour of sitting in the woods would probably do the trick just as well. It gives me a sense of freedom and allows me to explore the world, bit by bit. But I could do that walking, biking or from the comfort of the driver’s seat of my car. Sure enough, I can get to places no car will bring you, but honestly, it’s kind of disappointing how little of those places still exist. It’s kind of sad how much effort is put in trying to minimise the effort people have to put into accessing a waterfall, lake, mountain peek, …
Bottom line: it’s hard to find a reason why I run that isn’t open for debate. I can, however, tell you why I don’t run, and maybe that’s worth just as much.
I don’t run to be healthy. I think we can all agree that I’ve moved way past that point. In fact, it’d probably be healthier to run less. And also, if health was so important, I’d probably make more of a difference by eating less junk and sleeping more.
I don’t run because my schedule tells me to. Truth is I skipped every schedule right after I ran my first marathon. Schedules are dictators and I’m not quite ready to get myself a Kim Jong-un haircut. A schedule can be fun if it’s challenging, but all too often you have a great day and your schedule tells you to do some easy-going training. Or it tells you to do an interval session with 1’30” laps and halfway your last one you feel like finishing with a bang, but the imaginary trainer is standing there, nodding, saying “I said 1’30”, not 1’15”. So yeah, not my cup of tea. All those people who find running boring: this might be why. Trash that schedule.
I don’t run to impress people. Sure, the surprised looks I get when I tell about my runs are flattering in a way. They say it’s amazing and impressive. But people say that about a lot of things. Additionally, it didn’t take me long to learn that there will always be someone who’s just a bit crazier and who has a resumé that’s twice as impressive than mine. Good luck trying to impress everyone. It’s best not to try.
The reason why I run then is quite simple: I love it. My schedule looks identical every day: “go run if you can and you feel like it & run until you don’t feel like it any longer.” It just happens to be the case that I feel like running quite often and that it takes me a while to grow bored with it. Usually at least 20k or more. And when I’m in new territory, I can go on forever. I’m quite sure I’m now more amazed by the beauty of the world I see on my runs than back when I was 20. In a way, running brought back the inner child, amazed and impressed by what other just accept.