Are there bad reasons to run?

by Kim on May 9, 2013

Before I get to today’s ramblings, there’s something I have to address with you guys.

Somehow, this search term has led people to my blog FOUR TIMES.

JB

Obviously, I’m overwhelmed with pride. I mean, I know I reference the Biebs a lot (mostly, when I need to make a sarcastic reference to coolness), and I know I say the word “run” now and then, but I had no idea it’d made that much of an impact on Papa Google.

This means a lot. Really.

To make sure I’m not disappointing anyone else who came here looking for a Biebs shirt, I think this is what you’re looking for. Well, technically, that one says Channing Tatum (Tatum Channing?), but it’s customizable.

Channing Tatum

I’m thinking about ordering one with my husband’s name on it. Then, when people ask who he is, I’ll say he’s an up-and-coming Australian movie star, who’s often referred to in the Australian tabloids as “Channing Tatum’s way more attractive older brother.” That’ll get their heads spinning.

To be fair, this blog has also brought in people via such gems as:

search terms

…which, by all accounts, is something I wouldn’t know a thing about. So if you’re here for the answer to that, I’m sorry.

Also:

search terms 2

Welcome, cats on keyboards!

So. Now that I’ve wasted several minutes of your life, let’s talk about running and stuff.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about what would happen if I took a break from running to focus on other kinds of exercise, like weight lifting and yoga.

My suspicion is that I would tone up, get stronger, and probably look better.

Hmmm. Some pretty strong arguments.

So then I started thinking: why am I running, anyway?

Well, obviously, right in this moment, I’m running to train for a 10K. But when that’s over, what will my motivation be? I clearly believe that there are better routes to a fit body, so that can’t be the reason…and yes, I do like running, but is that enough?

How many reasons to run do you need to keep doing it? And how do you know if they’re good or bad reasons?

marathon2Is “I look excellent in medals” a good reason?

Here are some basic reasons I can think of that might motivate people to run:

Because you like it. Of course, no one can dispute that this is a good reason to run. But if, say, running is hurting you, or you feel like you’re not meeting your fitness goals through running, maybe this reason isn’t enough.

To run a race. Maybe it’s something on someone’s bucket list, or a bunch of friends signed up for a 5K. Then sure, I say run. But what’s their post-race plan? Do they see race training as a short-term fun thing or the beginning of a long-term relationship with running? If the latter, they’ll need to adopt a few more reasons (before they get there and it all falls apart).

I won

To lose weight. Here comes the controversy. I’d argue that this is a bad reason to run, mostly because I think there are more efficient and more effective ways that are not as demanding on the body and mind, and maybe easier to stick with. All I’m saying is: I’ve never had a harder time fitting into jeans than in the last few weeks of marathon training. They fit fine on top—it was those Hulk-like hams and calves that I could barely squeeze in.

To create a new identity. I love this reason. Lots of runners will say that running is one of the things that defines them as people. It teaches us things about ourselves and about life, in a way that doesn’t make any sense unless you’ve experienced it.

To challenge yourself. When Type A overachievers like me get out of college and can no longer sign up for advanced math classes that are way outside of our comfort zone just for kicks, we need other ways to find out what we’re really made of. Running is awesome because it’s accessible to everyone but it also challenges everyone, and there’s always room for improvement. Another distance to conquer, another time to beat, another race location to try.

challengeSource (amazing article!)

Because it’s the easiest way to start exercising. I feel like running is a sort of default activity that sometimes gives exercise, as a general concept, a bad rap. My fear is that people underestimate how hard running is and end up saying, “I hate exercise!” when what they mean is, “I hate running!” Don’t get me wrong—if it’s between running and the couch, by all means, people should run. But to be successful, they need at least one or two other good reasons, too.

To be part of something. Once you’re a runner, you’re automatically initiated into the Running Culture—a strong, passionate group of people who embrace challenge and show undying support for each other. That’s a darn good reason in my book.

runners unite

Because everybody else is doing it. Maybe it feels that way, but then you look at, say, CrossFit or yoga, it feels like everybody’s doing that, too. There are entire communities, just as strong and passionate as the running one, built around almost every single kind of exercise on the planet. If we could all take the time to experiment and find out what we really like (in a perfect world, of course), we might be surprised where we actually fit in best.

To tone up. Again, I’d say this is a bad reason because there are better ways. All my running hasn’t done a thing for my droopy arms, and it sure isn’t getting me far with my 4-pack.

To find peace. I feel this. I come out of (good) runs feeling energized, yet calmer, more patient, and happier. But, again, I think that feeling can come from almost any exercise, if it’s the one you love to do.

To feed your competitive side. I don’t know much about this since I’ve never actually competed with anyone other than myself in a race, but I think this can be a legitimate reason to run. Especially if it helps tone down the competitive juices in other areas of life where they’re less welcome.

competitive

Because a bear is chasing you. Good reason. Although I think maybe you’re supposed to play dead?

So, what do you think?

Are there bad reasons to run?

If you run, what’s the biggest reason/reasons?

For me, it’s challenge, enjoyment, and lately, identity.

Who would you run to the finish line for?

Don’t be boring like me and say your husband. I mean, I guess I wouldn’t HATE IT if Robert Downey Jr. was there with him.

What were your favorite and least favorite fruit flavors as a kid?

I passionately, passionately hated cherry flavored things as a kid, and I always felt like I was the only one. Grape was the best, followed closely by strawberry.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura May 10, 2013 at 10:43 am

People often ask me WHY I run. My answer is almost always “because I can”. Each and every day my motive for running is different. Some days it’s for fun, some times it’s training for a race, sometimes it’s stress relief, sometimes It’s so I can be alone, some day’s it’s so I can come home and have a beer and not feel guilty. There are no bad reasons to run, there are only bad reasons on why not to run. Those are called excuses. And nobody has time for excuses.
Laura recently posted…Commuting/Adventure RunningMy Profile

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Kim May 10, 2013 at 11:12 am

Well said, Laura! And great point that our reasons are constantly in flux.

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Nikki May 10, 2013 at 1:10 am

I run for endurance to be able to play sport. I agree with you that running to lose weight or get toned is not the most efficient way to reach these goals. I also hate cherry flavor with a passion!
Nikki recently posted…Intermittent Fasting For Weight LossMy Profile

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Mar @ Mar on the Run! May 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

The entire first part of this post made giggle. Uncontrollably. :) I don’t think there are bad reasons to run unless you are medically restricted. But you have to at least enjoy it on some level otherwise what’s the point. You’re right there are other exercises out there to get what you need.
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Rachel @ Undercover Diva: A Sitcom May 9, 2013 at 5:57 pm

I’m so glad that you said that running is HARD! I think you’re right…non-runners tend to overestimate how HARD running is, both physically and mentally. I started working out with yoga, Zumba, and Pilates and tried running because I wanted a challenge. Now, I love it and can never seem to find my niche in any other exercise. That being said, maybe that’s a bad reason to run? Part of the reason I run because I can’t find anything else that makes me feel like running does. But ultimately, I think my love of running wins out.

Yoga also seems to be on a lot of runner’s minds..I just wrote a post about it because I did it yesterday and need to add it back into my routine! A large number of people have told me that yoga helps their running, so I’m definitely looking to incorporate more of it into my week!
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Kelly May 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Um, “welcome, cats on keyboards” made me literally LOL!!
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Erika May 9, 2013 at 10:43 am

When I started working out I started with walking and said I would never run – then I started walking faster, than I wanted to see if I could jog and then I wanted to see if I could run… I’m a runner.

My favorites were cherry and strawberry and still are :)

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Kim May 9, 2013 at 10:45 am

Exactly! I love that you’ll never run out of ways to challenge yourself with running.

See, I knew I was the only one who hated cherry. :) It was seriously embarrassing.

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Katie @ running4cupcakes May 9, 2013 at 9:31 am

I love that idea of putting your husband’s name on that shirt – awesome idea! Speaking of shirts – I wore my new Endure one from the giveaway last night to teach aerobics and love it! I can tell it will be one of my favorites!!

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Kim May 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

Awesome!! So glad you like it! It’s one of my favs right now too.

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Kim May 9, 2013 at 8:20 am

I run because I love it!! I rarely compete anymore. And, I do lots of other type workouts/cross training (because I can’t run every day!).
Great post – lots to think about!!!

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Kim May 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

You HAVE to love it to run as much as you do! :)

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Kim May 9, 2013 at 8:10 am

I think that’s what it all comes down to–enjoyment has to be somewhere on your reason list for it to work. I’m always thinking of people who force themselves to run even though they hate it or have the wrong expectations about what they’ll get out of it, physically, and I just want to say–it’s ok, you don’t HAVE to run.

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Sarah @ PickyRunner May 9, 2013 at 6:48 am

I don’t think there is a bad reason to run. Some people do run to lose weight- others do run for lifelong connections, or to achieve a specific goal. Whatever gets you out the door every day is your reason to run. FOr me, I run for enjoyment. I love the endorphin rush I get and the feeling I have after I’ve completed a workout. There’s no other sport that compares to it for me.
Sarah @ PickyRunner recently posted…Time to CelebrateMy Profile

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