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Why.

Why.

Everyone has one. And it truly is intriguing. In order to know it, all you’ve got to do is ask.

It’s the story. And to me, it is the most important part of a person’s athletic career.

Why on earth does somebody undertake, willingly, this crazy activity?

It is actually a two part question: 1) Why did you start? 2) Why do you still do it?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked “Why?”
“Why did you just run 5km on your lunch hour?!”
Or…
“You ran a marathon? How far is that? What… 42km?!? Why?”

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

My typical answer is “Why Not?” simply because I know the person asking isn’t truly interested in the real answer.

On one of the few times I answered, the inquirer turned around and stated “Yeah, I can’t do that. I may as well be trying to slay a dragon with a wet noodle.”

The reality is there are as many reasons to run as there are steps in a marathon.

I do it to decompress at the end of a day.
I do it because I’m working towards a goal.
I do it to show my kids that exercise is an important part of life.
I do it for a selfish reason. I want me time.
I do it because it is cheaper than pharmaceuticals… anti-depressants… uppers… downers…
I do it to be healthy.

But ultimately I do it for one single reason: I do it because it makes me feel good.

I took my first steps, training through a winter for a spring 5km. I had given up a dream job working at an amazing recreation centre, for a desk job that paid the bills. The idea was that if I signed up for a spring race, I would have to get-up off the couch throughout the winter.

I got through my first race. And a year later, it became my second race. Slower. But in a moment of eureka, it dawned on me. I feel good. I didn’t kill it. I didn’t beat my time. But I still crossed the finish line smiling.

I feel good when I cross the race finish line. I feel good when I pass the front door of my house (my training finish line) and no matter how rough my day was, or how rough the run was, I feel good.

When speaking with others who undertake the challenge, their reasons for starting are diverse:
To lose weight.
To do something new.
My wife was training and I felt guilty sitting on the couch.
I had a heart attack and needed to get healthier.
I do it with a group of women, and it’s our social thing.
I used to run in high school and wanted to get back into it.
And on, and on…

The other half is why we all continue to do it, some of the answers I’ve received:
I did a 5km, now I want to try a 10km.
I lost 10 lbs and I want to lose another 10lbs.
My 6 year old son told me he wanted to do a triathlon. I’m apparently a role-model, I can’t quit now.
It is who I am and how I now see myself.
I do it because I know my kids are waiting by the finish line to take my hand and run me in.
I want to stand on a podium someday.
And on, and on…

If you ever want to get to know someone, truly know them and understand them, ask them why they run, or cycle, or swim. And listen to the answer. Truly listen and get the real answer. It is a great way to get to know someone and the answer may surprise you.

We are all out there staring down a dragon. Why are you doing it?

 

 

-Patrick

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