Sunday, 29 May 2011

On the Question of Why

Why do we run?  I reckon the answers range from "It's just what we do" to "I'm keen to reduce my 10k/marathon/mountain marathon time", taking in the "I'm thinking I'll stay ahead of the Grim Reaper for a bit longer" along the way. It can be a complicated thing, this running lark. But not for me today. Today I had a really simple answer to the question. I ran to get the papers. And how liberating it was. I had purpose. A destination. I was the hunter-gatherer chasing down my prey. (OK, a bit of a stretch, but you catch my drift).  
I was five strides from the front door before I realised that the baseball cap was not a good idea. It is essential to keep the drizzle off my glasses, but a liability in the warm gusting gales that were blasting in over the fields and paper factory. I ran a loop through a little hamlet called Bowston on a route that took me along quiet, rain-washed lanes alongside fields with sheep and lambs huddling snug against the stone walls for shelter. The burbling song of curlews reinforced the air of desolation. Not a person, bike, car, dog walker, cyclist or tractor did I pass.
At the paper shop, the lad behind the counter looked with some distaste at the sweaty scruffbag shoving an Observer into his rucksack, and watched with mild bemusement as I extricated my money, with some difficulty, from the zipped back pocket of my shorts. To his credit, he managed a weak smile on receiving payment. 
The final leg was just half a mile or so uphill to home. It was a shock to realise that, because of work and other commitments, I have not been able to run for a whole week. No wonder I was feeling lardy and grumpy. And that's also why I run. Because if I don't, I'm not at all the pleasant, even-tempered Smileyrunner I want to be.
Why do you run? 
Smileyrating 9/10


  1. What a question to ask a runner! For me, my reason to run has changed gradually since I started running. Firstly it was to get fit so I could run a 10k in under an hour but my reason to run has changed very gradually because I have come to love the challenge of doing something different, whether it be a 5k, half marathon, 10 miles building to 18 etc etc. As I was only saying to my better half yesterday when she intimated it wouldn't last, it's something very personal.

  2. I run because it's one of the few things I CAN do, and reasonably well, I think! I'm no good at ball games (dodgy eyesight), pumping iron, gardening, cooking or DIY, all I can do is run!
    I started running with the sole purpose of restoring my lost fitness. It was the cheapest form of exercise I could think of. Then someone persuaded me to enter a race and I discovered that even in my mid fifties I could run quite fast over distances from 100m to the marathon. In no time at all I was breaking course records for my age category, picking up prizes and hovering round the top of the National Rankings. I suppose it's become something of an obsession. I'm still enjoying the buzz I get from racing, winning and picking up prizes.
    And between races there are magical moments running the hills and trails of my native Yorkshire Dales, or the mountains of Scotland, the Swiss Alps, or Spain, the Canary Islands and lots of other wonderful places.
    Why do I run? What a silly question!