Why I Run

If you’ve known me for a few years now, you would not be wrong in raising your eyebrows when you associate me with the word running. It’s true — it’s not a part of my persona and has almost never been. At least not until 2020 or so.

My Asics GT 2000–9

Why do I run? This is a question I ask myself almost every time I’m at the starting line of another guided run (huge, huge shout out to Coach Bennet from Nike Run Club, definitely recommended!) and I think I have a different answer every run. This here is a collection of all of those thoughts.

I have never enjoyed running or any form of cardio. I just didn’t like the activity. For the most part, growing up, I was content being indoors and never out playing with other kids or too much into a sport either — except for basketball. Loved that sport, but then again, chose not to run too much even while playing. I was pro at taking shots from the D where I pretty much just waited for the ball to reach me. Make what you would of that. It’s not that I had an issue with sport, but it just wasn’t my thing. I had no qualms of being the last to be chosen on the team or not being able to even finish a lap of the court without panting. I had accepted my fate. I had made my peace.

In 2010, after a bout of a gastro issue, I happened to lose some weight and sort of carpe diem-ed into working out. Getting a 50% student discount at a name-brand gym definitely helped more than anything else. For the first time ever I actually enjoyed physical activity. Perhaps it was being given the right guidance, or just actually having put my mind and body to it. Whatever it was, I liked it. But I detested cardio. I used the treadmill to just about warm up and get ready for the real workout. Running still made me wheeze and that gave me flashbacks of unpleasant times in school and so I minimized time with it.

In 2020, I had another bout of a gastro issue (no, it is not a recurring theme). This time around I had a lot of thinking time to myself and I began wondering why I disliked running so much despite having wanted to have been a decent one for many years. I’d tried it in 2013, 2015 and then 2017 — almost each time having been inspired by some or the other comic. I got thinking and realised that my issue lay not so much in being physically incapable. Running is literally an extension of probably the third skill one gains after learning how to breathe. I came to the harsh conclusion that I didn’t like running only because I stopped running even before I hit the start line. I bought good shoes, put on my earphones and actually just started with no thoughts. I went on and finished the course that I had selected and well, made it back alive.

Here’s where I’d love to say that I absolutely enjoyed it and that I was a convert from that moment onward. I was not. I am still not. I like the outcome and the activity but I still don’t see it as a sport for myself. And yet — I do it. I do it to meditate. It’s a fairly mindless task and super repetitive (except for dodging idiot drivers and kids playing on the street). I do it solo, I have no company who comes along. That gives me plenty of time to think for and about myself. To me, this time is akin to meditation (or a haircut). I’m out on the road, alone with nothing but my thoughts, no distraction, no pressures and especially no phone based stimuli. I find the time and space to plan myself while still being ‘productive’. At the end of the run, I’ve not only moved myself physically, but also covered a great distance mentally as well. I’ve run to calm down when I was angry. I’ve run to find answers to problems. I’ve run to curb my excitement. I’ve run to set a personal best. I’ve run to recover. I’ve run because I was bored. Most of all, I’ve run to prove a point to my 15 year old self who was his biggest enemy and never gave running a chance.

And as Coach Bennet says, at the end of every run is another starting line. At that starting line is another session of peace, solitude and mental progress. And shapely legs and healthy lungs as a side benefit.

Here are some resources that have helped me over the years at different points in life:

  1. Zen Pencils #89: Stephen Fry — Ultimate Self Help Book (link)
  2. exurb2a — Why I Run (link)
  3. The Oatmeal —The Terrible and Frightening Reasons I Run Long Distances (link)
  4. The Nike Run Club app with its guided runs (link)

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tanmay D

Tanmay D

I'm a 29 year old son, brother, friend and colleague who enjoys reading, playing video games and complaining about never having enough time. Read my thoughts!