Monday, April 16, 2007

Why Do You Do It?

I was up reading blogs and I read this post written by Miss Petite America, and it got me thinking.

A recap for those of you you haven't read the post or don't want to:

Her mom is telling her that it is ok if she doesn't finish her upcoming half mary on Sunday because it's supposed to rain and MPA is dealing with an injury. And MPA is upset that her mom doesn't "get it".

How many of us have experienced similar conversations?

I know I certainly have!

My boyfriend's parents have always been amazingly supportive of my running efforts. They gave very generously when I was fundraising for TNT. His dad is very quick to offer praise and tell me how proud he is of me.

But he is also very quick to tell me that it is ok if I can't finish a run or a race. He's always telling me that it's ok if I have to quit, and not to push too much, and not to hurt myself (too late), and that they are proud of me no matter what.

My mom knows me pretty well, and isn't overly vocal about her opinions of what I do unless I am seeking advise, but I get the feeling that she thinks I am borderline mental for coming back for more after the knee and ankle injuries I suffered through last year. If I had to guess, I'd say that she often wonders why I just don't quit and why I keep coming back to torture myself.

And honestly, some days I wonder the same thing.

Running has probably reduced me to tears of pain and frustration more than just about anything in my life. And I have a choice. I could hang up the shoes and walk away at any time. I don't have to answer to anyone, so what's stopping me?

Why don't I just quit?

Because I can't.

It's honestly that simple.

Running has given me something that nothing else ever has before.

Confidence in my physical abilities.

And for me that's an amazing thing.

I'm a smart individual. I was always at the top of my class in school. And it usually came easy to me. If it didn't, I could almost always study hard enough to understand what ever it was. If I have to use my brain to solve I problem, I'm probably going to do ok.

But, I've never felt all that confident in my ability to do something physical. Most kids loved gym class, but I dreaded it. I was out of my element. Outside of my natural abilities.

And I felt like a dork.

I certainly couldn't hit a baseball with a bat, but I sure could get hit in the face with one. I couldn't shoot a basket, but I could scrape a two inch section of my nose and my forehead with my fingernail while I was trying, and be humiliated for weeks while it healed. I couldn't kick a soccer ball, but I just might nail the shin of the kid next to the ball pretty good. If dodge ball is the name of the game, then runnergirl is the name of the one who's gonna be hit out first. Football? You have got to be kidding me!

But, running.

Oh sweet running.

Now that I can do. It's just one foot in front of the other.

Running is a mental sport.

All you have to to is Not. Give. Up.

The first time I ran 8 miles, I was so shocked that I was able to do it.

The first time I ran 9 miles, I was so proud of myself I didn't know what to do.

The first time I ran 10 miles, I was on top of the world!

The first time I ran 13.1 miles, I was so excited I wanted to shout it from the roof tops.

And when I finally finished my first half marathon, the amount of pride and self confidence I felt was over whelming. It amazes me how much I draw on the strength I felt at completing that race at other times in my life. If I think I can't do something, I look back at that race and tell myself that if I could do that, then I can do whatever the new challenge is.

If you put my half marathon medal and my doctor of optometry diploma side by side and asked me which I was more proud of, I'd say the medal hands down.

I had to work harder for it.

And earning it changed something in me, and I will never be the same. I have a confidence and an unbreakable will that never existed before. If I don't do something these days, it is because I have decided that I don't want to, not because I am afraid that I can't.

And that is the most liberating thing in the world for me.

The freedom from the fear of failure.

So, why do you do it?


  1. That pretty much sums it up. You and I are long lost physically inept twins. I totally felt like a rock star when I sent in my "what have you done in the past ten years" form to my high school reunion committee last spring and was able to write that I, a complete non-athlete all through school, was able to complete two marathons and was registered for a third.
    Cause not even the athletic "super stars" in my graduating class had done that. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it dumb jock who always made fun of my inability to compete on the playing field back in the day!

  2. I can somewhat relate. When I first started running about a year and a half ago, I was struggling with shin pain (found out it was due to bad shoes). My boyfriend at the time... thought maybe I just wasn't cut out for running. Lack of support from the person you thought you would get it the most, that's hard! I persevered and have made great gains since then!

  3. I haven't figure out why I run yet... but I am sure that even if I did I wouldn't be able to put it into words as well as you did. =) Great blog... love your writing style. Will add this one to be read list. Best to you and yours.

  4. Why I run?

    For my sanity.

    For the runner's high.

    For the body it has given me.

    So I can eat whatever I want and NOT feel guilty.

    Oh, and I never quit. If I set a goal I finish it. If it's walking over that finish line, so be it.

  5. this question gets to plague me for the remainder of the afternoon.

    Good stuff to ponder on a slow work day.


  6. Great motiivational post for me, THANKS!

    I ran 3 miles this weekend...I was shocked...can't wait to run more!


  7. Wow! I couldn't have said it better myself!

    Actually, I would have added:

    "had to give up swimming (at the first practice) because I ran into the wall and broke my nose"

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Oh, and why do I do it?

    Because I can!

  8. Great post. Something to really make you think.