I plan to dive a little deeper into pieces of this posting in the future, but for now here is a brief piece about why I do what I do.
Every once in a while I get asked why I run or more often than not, why I run so much, often quantified as excessively or obsessively. Some people are downright condescending while others just want to know. I have put a lot of thought into why I run as much as I do especially since I have started running longer distances, and over the last several weeks have come up with this:
I run to feel free. I run for balance and enlightenment. I run long to release the demons within and move forward with my life. I am an ultra runner because it allows me to face the black dog and move forward. I run to be free. I run to understand who I really am. I’m not an elite athlete; I am not a regional superstar and I am not training for greatness. I don’t race to place; I race to beat my last effort.
Really, the above is a bunch of statements that could mostly stand on their own as a reason why someone runs. In stringing them all together I started to really figure out why I do what I do. Maybe it only makes sense to me and maybe that is the way it should be.
Freedom was pretty easy to find through running, from my first mile to whatever I am running today I find freedom from running. It is me and the road or trail. Balance and enlightenment I may eventually find someday through running.
The black dog I refer to isn’t black dog of European lore but more a superimposition of my depression. If I run long enough, I seem to think through everything in my head and upon reaching the void there he stands, larger than life to confront me. The longer I continue on after finding my black dog the better I feel after the event. Being able to overtake my black dog one day will probably by my best personal triumph. This is my prime motivator.
Enough about dogs though, my final statement rubs many runners the wrong way. I don’t race to place; I race to beat my last effort. Many people take this to mean that I am not a competitive person. Many think you are wasting your time going out for anything less than first place. That is great if it gets you out of bed and running every day. Not saying I haven’t placed before because I have, I am just saying that using winning as a motivator to run better doesn’t help make me a better runner.
The only outside motivator that usually gets under my skin enough to make me change my ways is to tell me I will fail. Failure isn’t an option, so telling me I will fail at anything tends to push me over the edge. Once challenged, I have a relentless drive to succeed at any cost. One of these days, I may get past this character flaw as I prefer not to embody negativity to drive success.
The only thing I find more derogatory than failure is quitting.
Remember, run happy, train smart and don’t listen to the voices inside your head that tell you what you can’t do!