Why I Love Running

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Sometimes I am asked what it is about running that I love so much. I always pause, taken aback by the question, as if I am being asked why I love my husband, my family, my friends, or my cat.

I just do.

But after probing more into my instinctual and immediate response, I start to realize that there are many reasons why I love to run. The answer I give you will depend on the day, the distance, the time, my mood, my body, my sleep, and various other factors.

Today the reason I ran was for mental health.

I knew that today’s run would serve the purpose of boosting my mental health and centering me. Today I just craved a run like nothing else.

Recently, Caitlin had a wonderful discussion on the topic of ‘What are you running towards?’. In my answer to her question, I said:

I’m running towards inner peace. I’d like to think I get there a bit more with each run.

Inner peace is one of the goals I strive for each and every day. It is not always through running that I try to get there; sometimes it is through writing, baking, reading, meditating, cracking jokes, walking, or being with my loved ones. The desire for inner peace was one of the main reasons why I ended up leaving an unfulfilling career and branching out on my own.

I think inner peace is a lovely goal. And running helps me get there.

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I have also been asked by frustrated readers how they can learn to enjoy running. Sometimes the answer I give seems a bit odd:

“Have you cried on a run yet?”

What? No!”

Then keep running.”

Have you gotten a shiver through your entire body on a run yet?”

From the cold, you mean?”

Keep running.”

I remember the day that hooked me on running. It was during my first 10k race in June 2009. I had been running on and off since August 2008, but I never understood why anyone could enjoy 30 minutes of breathless agony. What kind of strange people were they, I would wonder.

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This 10k course was a brutal one, filled with menacing hills around every bend or turn. I laugh about it now, but at the time I was running on steam.

Here is a quote from my race recap #3 (the rest can be found on my race page):

6km-7km: It was hot, but I was truly loving every minute of the race. Each time someone passed me, it motivated me to dig deep within myself and find an extra ounce or two of strength. I thought a lot about Chris during these 2 kilometers and I found myself getting quite emotional in the moment. I teared up at one point as I was so overcome with emotion. I think it had been building for so long now. All of the emotions from my injury were finally being let go. The 2 months when I couldn’t even do yoga let alone cardio exercise affected me more than I realized. I felt free, and yes, while I was panting, and grunting, and feeling sometimes like I was going to die going up a hill, in some odd way I felt so alive. I thought about what Chris must have gone through with his cancer and coming to grips with the fact that he wasn’t going to make it to his thirties. Suddenly everything I was feeling sort of went numb. A tear dropped off my face and I didn’t feel any tiredness anymore. I didn’t curse the hills, I didn’t worry about my time, heart rate, or pace…and I am not sure if the music was on or off.

I just ran.

And this is why I love to run.

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The ability to take your emotional junk and leave it on the pavement is something I have not found in anything else but through running. For some it is yoga or walking or skydiving, but for me it is running.

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Today’s long run wasn’t really about improving my physical endurance or training for a half marathon. I mean, of course it was to an extent, but really, all I wanted to do was clear my mind and reclaim my inner peace.

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It worked.

[But perhaps, not without Kath’s Sweet, sweet nectar recipe too. Two thumbs up for homemade sports drinks!]

How do you find your inner peace?

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{ 100 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber August 20, 2010

I love that question. I get it all the time. I am never really able to give a good answer. To really love it, you have to want it and all it entails. I also find my inner peace in running. You are only there to compete with yourself. You can talk to yourself and figure out your thoughts or just let it all go. My favorite runs are those that when you finish you have no idea what course you took. You just made it home…

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Leah @ Why Deprive? August 20, 2010

I LOVE this post!! I run because I love it too. I’ve always loved it, even when I was an on and off “only in the summer months” runner. Of course, it took awhile for me to understand what I love about it, but its therapy for me. I run for my sanity, and for the sanity of everyone who has to deal with me. My mom has always been a runner, and when I was younger she said to me once that “running is when I do some of my best thinking”. I thought she was crazy then, but now I know exactly what she means, and have stolen that line and called it my own many times.

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Samantha @ Health, Hapiness & Skinny Jeans August 20, 2010

I run because it is something that I can do for fitness and my health but also because I love that I can track my progress and constantly work towards new goals (fater times, further distances, more hill repeats etc) I also love running because of the community that you enter into. Runners are so supportive of one another and the competitive element isn’t me versus them but me versus former me.

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Alexis August 20, 2010

Thank you for this post! I’m a relatively new runner, and I’m not a big fan of it yet.. But this is just extra motivation to keep on trying!!

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Sonja {ActiveFoodie} August 20, 2010

I completely agree with you. Reading your post was like reading my own thoughts on running. I run for clarity, inner peace, and the feelings of strength and happiness it brings me. It doesn’t matter what I feel like before the run, I always feel better after, even after a bad run. I also cry, I am SUCH a crier at races, every single freakin’ race!! It is so emotional for me, which is odd because I really not a crier normally. Dave was shocked the first time he saw me cry at a race :) That is why I love it.

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Kristy @ KristyRuns.com August 20, 2010

Yea! A running post! ;) I love running because it’s just me. No one is in my ear telling me what to do (bosses, etc.). The reports, dishes, laundry can wait. It’s my time. Just me and the pavement/trails. I might regret not going for a run, but I NEVER regret getting out there and going for any length of a run. :)

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Shanna, like Banana August 20, 2010

You look so blissful and gorgeous in that first pic :)

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Freya (Brit Chick Runs) August 20, 2010

Beautiful post!
My inner peace comes from riding my horse; just Chika and I alone, going through the countryside, or even just being with her in the stable, Her face, her ear twitches, her smell, her skin..I just adore her! And feel SO at peace with her :)

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Dorry August 20, 2010

Love this! I run primarily for mental health and clarity. I’m a relatively new runner and I love how it positively affects my mood and outlook on life. Even on rest days, my mood is affected because I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s run. :)

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Cynthia (It All Changes) August 20, 2010

Spoken so well and so true! Running is the one exercise I crave. Sure I love others but running gives me a sense of going beyond anything I ever thought I was possible of. I’m not the best at it but I love it none the less.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful perspective.

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Bethany @ More Fruit Please August 20, 2010

What a wonderful answer as to why you run!

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is August 20, 2010

Very inspirational as I WISH I loved running… but I do not. I wish I could learn!

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Paula August 20, 2010

I’d like to offer tips on how to learn to like running……. Just take the pressure off. Have absolutely no expectations. And take walk breaks whenever you want them.

Ideally, start outside on a trail, a beautiful road or beautiful neighborhood. Next, start running, and whenever you feel like you don’t want to run anymore, just stop, and start walking. Then when you feel like you could run again, start running, and when you want to walk, then walk, and so on and so forth.

Do this one to three times a week for at least 30 minutes and I bet you that after one month you will love going on your runs and look forward to them!

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is August 20, 2010

Wow. Thank you! No one has ever put it to me that way – not even my husband who has been running for years. One of the reasons I want to run is because of how exhilarating it seems – beautiful scenery and letting everything out on the road like Angela mentions. I am going to try this. You have no idea what this means to me!

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Olya August 21, 2010

I’ve been doing it for a week now and every time I get tired of running, I walk. And then run again. I take my phone with me and listen to the radio and when there is a commercial, I walk and then when some inspiring music is playing, I spring up. I used to think that I hate running and it’s not for me. But Angela with her love for running inspired me and I decided to give it a try. Like you, I’m attracted to the idea of beautiful scenery and inner piece. I also have a dream to run marathon one day.

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Sheri August 20, 2010

I love this post. I was just thinking the same thing today. I was going to go for a run this morning but it was raining…don’t like to run in the rain in Calgary..sorry! I was really looking forward to my run today but I manged to fit it in later on in the afternoon. I really needed to just hit the pavement and go! I put my son in his Chariot (running stroller) and went for it. It felt great…I love to run. It gives me peace and time to think and I always feel great afterwards.

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Neen @ Broad Bean to Runner Bean August 20, 2010

what a lovely post, very inspiring. I find peace in running and baking, in equal measures, both give me precious time out of a busy life and let me just do what i do with no interferences from external sources, esp running on this count,i dont take my phone or anything with me, its just ME TIME pure unadulterated ME TIME! bliss, i tell you, bliss!!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) August 20, 2010

i love running, but i definitely find my inner peace in my faith. knowing that i am loved and made whole makes me so much happier than i could ever imagine!

this is such a beautifully written post (as always!) angela :)

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Lauren L August 20, 2010

Love this post! It made me realize how much I like to run but heres my problem I’m out of shape (like 15 pounds heavier) and I don’t know where to start. I decided that I want to do a half marathon by January though I don’t know how I should start training for it.. I’m thinking a mile at a time could do but I don’t know.. sorry about the rant. I love your blog.

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Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat August 20, 2010

Darlin, you CAN run no matter what your weight is! I started running for the first time this past January and completed a half-marathon in May! When I started, I was 10-15 pounds heavier than I was when I completed my race.

My advice? Check out a couch to 5K plan. You can find one online, or you can download them to your iPhone, Android phone, and iPod Touch (I bet they are available on other phones too, but I am just not sure which ones). I started with a Couch to 5K plan and then did a beginner’s half-marathon plan. You can do it!

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Chelsea @ Strawberry Sweat August 20, 2010

This should definitely go into your list of all time favorite posts. I’ve been feeling so frustrated with running lately (it seems like running = bad things lately for me — “if one thing doesn’t go wrong, it’s a miracle!”), but maybe it’s me struggling with finding peace with myself. Definitely food for thought.

Question about the camelbak and sports drinks–how do you clean yours?! I haven’t put anything in mine other than water, because I am afraid bad things will grow in it if I start to put in tea, juice, sports drinks, etc.

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Little Aspects August 20, 2010

I love running for the same reason! It calms me down, makes me feel at peace and helps me to overcome stress, which is why I like running alone. There’s really no better feeling than a solitary early morning run as the sun is rising or evening run as the sun dips down (especially if it’s at a beach – which I’m not usually near!) – breathtaking!

I do, however, also love the feeling of getting fitter and stronger, and I’ve somehow convinced my brother and husband to run their first half marathons with me next May, so I’m looking forward to doing some of my training with them. :-)

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Michelle @ Give Me the Almond Butter August 20, 2010

I love this post! Running really helps me calm down a lot. It lets me sort out my thoughts. I also really enjoy journaling so I have a record of my thoughts being sorted out :p

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty August 20, 2010

I miss loving to run… It use to be a huge passion of mine, I’m not sure what happened, but I just don’t love it anymore.
I’ve tried to find it again… because it was so good for me, in lots of ways!!

Great post though!!

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Kath August 20, 2010

I’ve cried on a run – it’s very touching.

YAY for sweet nectar!

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Clare August 20, 2010

What a great post. There’s a magic in running; I think that you have to do it consistently for a few months to really get to that magic spot and then it becomes something you HAVE to do. I mean that in a healthy way….like breathing or eating or sleeping it becomes part of you. I go out every morning at 5 before my husband goes to work….it energizes me, wakes me up, relaxes me, reduces anxiety, gives me more patience for my children and overall makes me a better person, mother, wife. I think in a way, like dreams, it helps you process your emotions. On top of all THAT, you also get a killer metabolism and great legs!

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Lisa August 20, 2010

I’m pretty sure I’m going to cry crossing the finish line for Hood to Coast next week!

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Chris August 20, 2010

Beautiful wonderful Post!!

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Kelsey H August 20, 2010

For me finding inner peace involves a lot of different methods. Sometimes running isn’t always an option because I don’t have enough time or enough motivation or it’s raining? All of my “tricks of the trade include: running (best used when I’m angry and have a lot of antsy energy), yoga (best used when I’m stressed or tense or to reclaim some energy for the day), weightlifting (also good for when i’m angry or need an extra boost of confidence), meditation and prayer (best for when I just need some time to vent to God and seek his guidance). Normally I can always find some way to work one of these into my schedule as I need them. It’s not to say every time I do one of these, I must be having a bad day or something, but I find I am also much better able to handle my emotions, PMS, bad days when I’ve made these activities a part of my routine:) And I TOTALLY understand what you mean about running being an emotional catharsis. I certainly feel like it could be a form of therapeutic intervention.

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Lisa August 20, 2010

I call running ‘chasing demons’! If there is something difficult occurring in my life, there will definitely be insight gained or the problem will be solved by the end of the run! It is also during my runs where I dream bug dreams:)

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Lisa August 20, 2010

Oops! Darn auto correct! Big dreams…not bug dreams!!

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Maria @ Oh Healthy Day August 20, 2010

It’s probably cliche and over-used, but even so, I find my inner peace through blogging. I started my blog about three months ago. It was the time I had just finished up my Master’s and was at a stale point in my career – there were no jobs in my field to be found. I felt hopeless and unfulfilled. My current job isn’t bad, but still left with a void, which I found through blogging. And not just my blog, reading inspiring blogs like yours and becoming apart of a community of others who think and feel similar to me – that’s where I find my inner peace.

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Penny August 20, 2010

Such a great post. I’m not a great runner…I’m not fast, no super long distances…but I love the experience of it. I lost my mom to brain cancer 5 years ago, and recently ran a race benefitting a cause related to that. I felt fine at first, but half a mile in I burst into tears. I kept on, ugly-cry-face and all, and felt so great afterwards. I wish everyone could experience that in their runs!

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Shannon, Tropical Eats August 20, 2010

This post makes me so happy! Seriously, I’m going to bed early tonight so I can get up and run run run like the wind. :) I’m so thankful I was able to meet you last weekend– you’re definitely one of my greatest role models!!!!

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Mama Pea August 20, 2010

I was just talking to a girlfriend today about how when I had to give up running (long distances…because of my back injury), I felt like I lost my best life-coping mechanism. Sure, there are other positive outlets (like cooking, blogging, writing, etc.), but nothing compares to that heart pounding, sweating RELEASE of a run.

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Lea @ Healthy Coconut August 20, 2010

I’ve known people who seems to have all the materials and wealth they need for a lifetime and when asked on their birthdays what they wish for, they say they wish for “inner peace”. That’s something nobody else can give you, it has to come from within.

That’s a really good goal to have Angela. I’m glad you found a path towards that goal thru running. I’m sort of in the same journey :)

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Annie (Delicious Wellness) August 20, 2010

What a beautiful post! I feel exactly the same way! Often I tell people I don’t know why I love running (I used to hate it), but it’s those emotional releases and moments of pure inner peace that make it something I love. I had a run like this yesterday when all of the sudden “It’s a Beautiful Day” came on my Ipod and the sun was sparkling on the waves and I was filled with so much gratitude and happiness. THAT is why I run. Because sometimes running opens you up to the raw truth…love. :)

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holly @ couchpotatoathlete August 20, 2010

I’m still working on my inner peace :)

But, I have to tell you that I love this post. I have too often burst into tears while running. I get so full of emotion it is absolutely overwhelming.

I feel so ALIVE when I run — my blood is pumping, my breath is quick, my heart beats, my feet hit the ground, everything about it just screams LIFE to me, which is a great feelings

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin August 20, 2010

I find my inner peace by getting out into nature, whether it be on a run, a hike, sitting on a dock by a lake, or just strolling through my garden. :)

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kate August 20, 2010

Yoga is definitely my quest for inner peace, but I love hearing about peoples relationship with the pavement. Its amazing that were all searching for the same things just on different paths!

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Leanne @ Radiant, Balanced & Fit August 20, 2010

I absolutely loved reading this post.

Right now I’m training for my first ever 10km so it was awesome hearing about your first ever 10km! Some days when i’m running I feel exhausted and have to take it one minute at the time but in the end I always finish my run knowing I’ve done the best I can and am overwhelmed at how proud of myself I feel. I have never got such a strong feeling from any other type of workout. I also feel that if I’m having a really negative/down day and I run… at some point in the run I feel everything go quiet. Running calms me, it makes my mind go quiet. Some days, it takes 15 minutes, other days 2 minutes. I feel like I’ve been bitten by the running bug and I don’t see myself hanging up my running shoes once I complete my first race.

Thanks again for this post :)

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA August 20, 2010

I’m jealous. I really wish i felt that way about running! I was even on the cross country team in middle school – I really gave it a go but I never could enjoy it.

I’ve thought before that people who like running enjoy getting in the zone and therein lies my problem – I have no ability to zone out. I cannot zone.

I would say I get my inner peace from studying languages. I become totally focused on it, I work out my brain muscle, and then I feel better!

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Becky August 20, 2010

Well said, Angela. I find peace through running. It serves as a release for my emotions. I also love the joy I get from running with others. The embrace of the running community is so warm and welcoming. I’m glad you enjoyed your long run today.

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Monique@She's Going The Distance August 20, 2010

Awesome post!! I’m a huge fan of running myself (when I’m not injured), but honestly, I find I’m the most at peace with myself snuggled up with a good book :)

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