As a kid, I hated running. Every time my dad would remind me that I needed to run to gain endurance for soccer or basketball, I cringed. It got to the point that it literally was forced into my schedule and I abhorred every step of the .7 mile lap around my neighborhood.
Then in middle school, I ran track…or rather, jumped hurdles. Short as I was, I needed more strides than most people, and it was more of a challenge to clear the hurdle, but I rather enjoyed it. In high school, I played tennis and started running more on my own, discovering how relaxing it could be to venture down the shaded bike trail path through my town, and conquer the seemingly unconquerable hill that completed my loop.
In college, I met the real runners, the ones who ran the local half marathon, who had been swimmers for years and ran on the side to keep up their endurance. I ran with them a few times, reveling in the wooded path on Western Campus at Miami University, stopping in the creek for a breath, and climbing the hill in the woods to finish in the beautiful Formal Gardens.
When I moved to DC, running became my exercise by default. I wasn’t playing tennis regularly, and I didn’t have a beautiful rec center with pools and basketball courts and dozens of machines to choose from. I had a small fitness room at my townhome complex…and the great outdoors. So in the words of Forrest Gump, I just started running.
For a year and a half, I ran that Army-Navy Drive loop dozens of times. I ran on the trail that led to Reagan National, and I ran to the grocery store and back. Then I moved to Cleveland Park, and fell in love with running even more because now I lived over Rock Creek Park, paradise. I’ve now been in my neighborhood for three years and I still haven’t covered all the routes. Every week, I’m running a new path in the park, on the trails, in the streets in my area and down in Woodley Park. I run down to Dupont and then to the White House, and a little farther, and then back. I run on Beach Dr. on the weekends when it’s closed to cars, and down Embassy Row when I want to enjoy the architecture of my city. In April, I completed my first Chery Blossom 10-miler, which was my fifth race since I entered my first one in 2010. I can’t wait to do more, and work my way up to a marathon someday.
I don’t run because I’m told to by a coach or my parents. I don’t run because I’m trying to win a race. I don’t run to beat anyone else. I don’t run because it’s trendy.
I run because…
It’s healthy and keeps me fit.
It’s a time during which I reflect and cherish being alone.
It’s a great way to enjoy nature.
It’s a fun, free activity to do with friends.
It’s just me and the music.
I can. (Thank you Amy for this reminder.)
It feels cleansing and invigorating afterwards.
It’s just me now.
Why do you run?