Why I run

1 December 2010

RunningForCake asked me a very good question. She wanted to know:

What’s the motivation? (for running so much)

I tried to respond to her question on RunKeeper but the site couldn’t handle the long post I wrote. So here it is (and I’ve reformatted it a little so the layout is better):

To answer that will take a while … so go an get a coffee/wine/whatever, then sit back and enjoy my ramblings (or you could go an watch TV).

Last year I lost a bit of weight (27Kg). Not through really exercise but through diet. I’ve still got about 10Kg I’d like to drop and that will be my goal for next year. Around the same time I gave up playing squash. Despite my weight I played an okay game of squash because of (a) a lot of practice, and (b) a degree of pigheadedness/enthusiasm. I played squash mainly against myself—I enjoyed winning but I enjoyed the internal game more. However, squash didn’t agree with me. I had far too many accidents, and being rather rotund; e.g., when I hit the wall I REALLY hit the wall (or twisted my ankle, cracked a rib, or whatever). So it seemed like a good idea to give up squash. The result was that I was in the position of being fitter and having lost my principle outlet for physical activity. I tried swimming (which I used to do a lot), but it didn’t really give me the same rush.

Now, Andrew had told me about the Couch-to-5K programme, and I thought “I can do that”. Well, one week (i was on a writing retreat) I threw myself into C25K …. actually I just threw myself at running 5k and by sheer ignorance/stubbornness my first 5K was 30 minutes long. So, I did a few more runs that week and got down to about 27 minutes. After the writing retreat I did the odd little trot here and there but nothing serious.

Then Andrew and I were talking, and the idea of doing a half-marathon came up … so I started training. After a few months I was doing half-marathon distances (pigheadedness again) and so I began to think about doing the full marathon, especially when Andrew promised he would do it with me. So, I signed up, but Andrew missed the deadline (fortunately he managed to get a ticket on TradeMe). So, that’s how I ended up doing a marathon.

But that doesn’t really answer your question … what’s my motivation. I don’t really believe in motivation (in the way many people do), my research (I a bit of an academic) has led me to believe that routine and practices are a more useful way to think about such things, so I run because I’ve made it a routine in my life (along with the planning that accompanies it).

My routine is to do a “short’ run on Tuesday and Thursday with Andrew (if our diaries permit) and a “long’ run on Sunday. What constitutes a short or long run is relative. I have a goal of getting better at this (of improving my practice of running) so what I think of a short run now is different to, say, six months ago. My current schedule (just revised) has me doing short runs of 15K, and building to long runs of alternating 20 and 33Ks. Of course there is always (well maybe not always) the odd injury that necessitates the plan being revised but it is what it is.

To sum up, why do I run? Well its because I run. I can put up some post-hoc rationalization about health or competition, but the truth is, I drifted into it, and now I’m habituated to it.

(The end. Let’s see what RunKeeper does with such a long post).