Why I Run
Updated: Aug 13, 2019
Running is an important part of my life. Ok that's kind of an understatement. Running is a HUGE part of my life! Throughout the years, running has meant a lot for me - fulfillment, achievement, community, energy, friends, family, and a reason to get up each day. Listed below are 15 reasons that motivate me to run each day, and 3 pictures that are meaningful to me. If you can't read the handwriting, I've typed them all below in this post :)
If you’re anything like me, then running...or at least some kind of exercise...is important to you too.
Whether you run the 100m, marathon, or anything between, we all need to stay motivated day after day to keep on going. To do so successfully, we all need a “BIG ENOUGH WHY.” The BIG ENOUGH WHY are the reasons we get out of bed in the morning, the reasons we push through the pain when it hurts, and the reasons we feel great when we finish!
We all have different reasons for running. What are yours?
To contribute to the "Why I Run" movement:
Click to download and print the "Why I ____ Template"
Continue reading below for instructions on how to fill in the template
To inspire others and share your thoughts, take a picture of your "Why I Run," post to Instagram, and tag #whyirun.
Beyond Running. In fact, the concept of “BIG ENOUGH WHY” extends far beyond running. However you exercise - whether you run, jump, throw, lift weights, shoot hoops, or anything...WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
This template can really be applied to anything in life!
For my favorite book on finding your own purpose, see Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why.”
How to identify your "Running Why" (or "Exercise Why")
Download and print the "Why I ____ Template"
Fill in your name, activity, and today’s date
On the left side, write down the reasons you exercise. Start with just one or two, and see how many you can identify. Be honest with yourself, this is about YOU! At first, don’t worry about ranking them - just write down whatever comes to mind. And don’t worry about finishing this in one hour or one day. It took me about six months to refine my current list, and I’m sure I will update it again before not too long.
On the right, include 3 pictures that are meaningful for you, crop each to a 2 inch square, and include on the sheet. I used the Canva app on iPhone, which is really good for cropping and overlaying photos on top of each other.
Hang it up on your wall and use it for inspiration when you need it
Your "Running Why" (or "Exercise Why") Changes Over Time
Reflect back on your “WHY” from time to time, add to the list, rank them, update the pictures...whatever inspires you!
Your “WHY” can and will change over time. It is different from mine, different from anyone else’s, and might even be different from your “why” a year ago. It is your own individual why that is personal to you, and that’s what makes it so special.
My Current List
My current list (ranked in order as of June 26, 2019) is:
To feel a sense of achievement and accomplishment
Because being an athlete is important to my identity
To face a challenge and overcome it
To be part of a team and community
Because I feel better about myself during and after
To explore what I am capable of
For Kendra, my wife
To inspire others
For my grandpa, mom, dad, and family
For the kids I coach
To talk to others and help them become faster
To be better than I was yesterday
Because it makes other people smile
Because it makes me feel good
Because running fast and pain-free feels incredible!
My Three Pictures
For interested readers, here are the stories behind the three pictures I chose for "Why I Run" (on June 26, 2019).
1. May 5, 2019. Cinco De Mile
This is a recent picture - less than 2 months ago. First, I just really like the way this picture came out. It was taken by a professional photographer, and it really captures my relaxation and focus towards the end of a mile race.
Second, the mile race is important to me right now, because my most important quantifiable goal now is to break 5:00 in the mile. The race wasn't my greatest (5:38), and it's a reminder that I am on the way to my goal, but not there yet.
Third, I represent the San Diego Track Club, my current running team and my running community. It's important to me that I am part of this team, and that we all succeed together and support each other. I truly look forward to the Tuesday Night workouts each week. Without those I wouldn't have the same running purpose that I do. When I see people in and around San Diego proudly wearing their SD Track Club shirts and hats, I smile and say hi!
2. April 28, 2007. Tufts University, My Senior Year
This is a picture of the Tufts University Track & Field team my senior year, celebrating the win of our conference championships. It was THE highlight of my personal athletic career, and one of the proudest moments of my life. This was also a huge moment in the history of Tufts University Track & Field. It was the first time we had won the conference championship since 1991 - 16 years waiting!
We were huge underdogs going into the meet, and we needed several miracle performances to have a chance at winning. The seniors on our team (including me) experienced 4 years of 2nd and 3rd place finishes, losing 7 straight championships to Williams (4 indoor and 3 outdoor).
Williams was more talented than we were, they had better athletes, and on paper they were the better team. However - we came out flying for this meet! We were hungry. We worked harder, focused more, and supported each other like family and best friends. We finally overcame the odds and won!
Technically, the meet ended in a tie between Tufts and Williams, so we were co-conference champions. It's very rare for a track meet to end in a tie, but this one did - (1) Tufts: 197.5, (2) Williams: 197.5, (3) Bates 95. So we shared the win with Williams. Either way, we did win! Full results from the meet are available here.
Cheering on teammates so much that I lost my voice during the meet
Running over to the field area to cheer on my good friend Dave McCleary in the javelin, who had an amazing day and unexpectedly finished 2nd in the javelin!
Before the DMR, the last event, our whole team circling the infield of the track so that for the entire 400 meter track, there was a Tufts face cheering you on and supporting you.
That even during the last event of the meet, the DMR, we were still a long shot to win. Then freshman Jesse Faller came out of nowhere and ran an amazing and unexpected mile to anchor the race, edging out Middlebury by 0.5 seconds to finish 3rd place - just enough for us to tie Williams. Videos of the DMR: Part 1 and Part 2.
Jumping up and down, hugging each other, and tears streaming down many of our faces (including my own) as we celebrated all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this effort.
Personally, I ran:
100m (11.26), 6th place finish => 3 Points
200m (22.45 PR), 5th place finish => 4 Points, #5 All-time at Tufts
4 x 100m (42.55 PR), 2nd place finish => 8 Team points, 2 individual points, #2 All-time at Tufts
The 9 points I accounted for (of our team's 197.5) made a huge difference! Each one of those points was needed for us to tie the way we did.
My college PR times for the 200m and 4x100m are available at https://www.directathletics.com/results/track/6725.html.
3. July 13, 2005. Maccabiah Games, Israel
It was an honor to compete in the 2005 Maccabiah Games (Jewish Olympics) for Team USA. I competed in the 100m, 200m, and 4x100m. This picture is me coming out of the starting blocks in the 4x100m. I love starting blocks - to me, they symbolize new beginnings, anticipation, and the unknown. The 4x100m was my favorite event on the track because it's a team event. The baton symbolizes teamwork, togetherness, and individual responsibility for the whole.
Traveling to Israel and competing in these games was an eyeopening experience for me. It meant to much for my development - athletically, culturally, and personally. When I see this picture, I think of:
My family - my mom, brother Benj, and grandpa traveling to Israel to explore together and watch me compete. My cousins - Abi, Carla, and Rachel, who all competed in volleyball at the Games. My cousin - Todd, who competed in basketball.
Pride to be a U.S. citizen and being able to compete for my country
Pride to be part of the community of Jewish athletes
The exposure I got to the international athletic scene, and meeting professional and semi-professional athletes from other countries. We all shared a Jewish heritage and a passion for the sport of track & field.
My first experience of traveling to Israel and visiting Jerusalem, one of the most important religious and historical places for humanity, all I learned and all I saw there.
Why do you run?
Download and print the "Why I ____ Template"
Any thoughts, comments, or questions? Comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some of my references and inspiration:
Simon Sinek, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action," 2011.
Jonathan Levitt, For The Long Run Podcast, with Peter Bromka.
Justin Ross, Ph.,D., Runners World, 4 Expert-Backed Ways to Build Mental Toughness, https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-stories/a20783068/four-ways-to-build-mental-toughness/?amp
The Science of Running, The Psychology of mental toughness - Willpower, self-control, and decision making, http://www.scienceofrunning.com/2014/05/the-psychology-of-mental-toughness.html
George Mallory: Mallory is famously quoted as having replied to the question, "Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?" with the retort "Because it's there." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Mallory
Alex Hutchinson, Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance, 2018.
Runner's World, Six Mental Secrets to Pushing Harder, https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20125752/six-mental-secrets-to-push-harder-during-grueling-workouts/?utm_content=2018-05-25
Why I run by Malcolm Gladwell, Denise Lewis, Sadiq Khan and more, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/13/why-i-run-alastair-campbell-michel-roux-malcolm-gladwell
Laura Weisberger, That's Why I Run, Runner's World, 2012, https://www.runnersworld.com/advanced/a20791896/thats-why-i-run/
Paria Hassouri, 10 Reasons Why I Run, Women's Running, https://www.womensrunning.com/2017/02/get-inspired/10-reasons-run_71538