Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Why I Run...

Hi there folks!

Whilst out on my long run this past weekend I started to wonder what each person driving past me pounding the pavement was thinking as their car sidled past.

Of course, I already knew the obvious; 'Wow, she is the most powerful amazing runner I've ever seen!' 'What great pace!' 'Brilliant form!'
(Just kidding)

But what were they thinking after they were so inspired by my majestic springing from foot to foot?

'Why the heck do people go out there and torture themselves for long periods of time?'
'How can someone run? It's so boring and pointless?'
'Running is the devils form of exercise. Any exercise is better than running!'
'This girl is crazy.'

Now, this is probably the kind of stuff majority of people are thinking, whether subconsciously or very much consciously and I know this because whenever i talk to anyone about how I'm a long distance runner, these are the kind of statements I'm hit with. Face to face. So I'm going to assume the likelihood of people thinking them in their own head is fairly high.

Now, this was quite the lengthy of runs, so I had a good amount of time to ponder on with these thoughts and I came up with the question to myself; 'Why do I run, Steph?'

It made me stop (not literally, I was keeping a good pace and stopping would make me realise how tired my legs were!) mentally and really backtrack through my mind, forcing my brain to think of the reasons I lace up those shoes time and time again and simply... run.

At first I was perplexed. Why do I run? For vanity reasons? To look good? So I can brag to people about how far I ran before school? Well I know those aren't the reasons, because they're some of the things I actually dislike about the sport. Sure running keeps you in shape, but I want to be toned and strong and to be honest, when I go through my phases of longer distances more often, I really start to lean out and have to ensure I'm eating a bucket load of food to keep up with my already fast teenage metabolism. Running doesn't give me those desired curves/ softness in all the right places that society deems 'attractive'. Running reveals definition and power instead. So vanity and looks are off the table.  And bragging to others? It's just a little embarrassing really. Telling someone I ran over 12km before the sun had even risen just makes me feel a bit... boastful? I run for myself, not for the distances I run or the praise I receive as a result.


I brought it right back to the very beginning of my running journey. Back to my 14 year-old year 9 self who was in her darkest days she's ever experienced in her life. Underweight, extremely fatigued, plagued with insomnia, riddled with anxiety and the darkness of depression. I have a picture of my year 9 school photo versus my year 12 school photo to reveal just what I mean:

So this is me now; year 12, happy, well nourished, healthy and truly living life:
And this is me in year 9...
The loss of colour in the face, the exhausted, fatigued look in my eyes, the slimness of my face... this is not a face of the happiness I always exhibited throughout my life.

I was scrolling through old pictures too and found this one around the same time:
It's amazing how much a smile can hide. But to me it's the eyes that reveal the truth of a person and there is no happiness in those eyes and my body was just too frail to function.

Now, I've written posts on what I think was going on during this time etc. but if we bring it back to this whole running thing, it sort of begins to make sense.

I remember sitting in the doctors office, the young doctor looking down at me sympathetically as I could feel tears starting to swell up behind my eyes as I revealed how I simply could not sleep, was so worried all the time, so cold, so lost. He was kind and sympathetic but just didn't get it. Insomnia I think is something you have to truly experience night in night out to truly understand the scary darkness of it all.

One thing he did tell me to do was up my exercise (a little strange for a girl who had recently lost a dangerous around 7-10kg without any knowledge of how it happened?) because through this I would be so exhausted I would have to sleep!

Truth be told, it sort of seemed too good to be true to me, but I gave it a shot (the desperation I was up to at this time was pretty high!). And I ran. I started off slow. I started off just around the block. I started off huffing and puffing and coming home utterly spent.

Eventually I worked up to 30 minutes straight. In winter I would push out 30 minutes on the treadmill instead. I ran and I ran and I ran. And I think that's when I fell in love with it. I was getting noticeably fitter, I was increasing my speed, stamina, agility, length of running time. I ate A LOT because I was HUNGRY... no, RUNGRY! And I slept.

The miracle above all miracles. I was sleeping again. I was gaining fitness. I was gaining back the weight I had lost. I was eating a much wider variety plant based diet, filled with good fats and grains and protein. Most noticeably I was happy.

Running gave me that happiness. Running pulled me from that cold, dark embrace of depression and anxiety. Running saved me. And so I guess that's why I run/ ran?

Nowadays I run for how it makes me feel. It makes me feel strong and powerful. I can do long runs of up to 16km. I can do short tempo runs increasing my speed, even at the very end. I can do sprints and hills and HIIT training with running. I am so much more capable than I ever thought possible and this only resonates into my everyday life more and more. Running is tough. It requires perseverance, determination, some of the toughest mind frames there are. Add that to any situation in life and you've got a winning combo.

I run because of how it makes me feel, not how it makes me look, or how far I can run. And deep down I know I run because it was one of the greatest factors that saved me from the scariest time in my life.

Your turn:
Are you a runner- long distance, short distance, sprinter?
Has exercise ever played a significant role in your life?
Favourite quote to get you through tough times?

I hope you appreciated this post for what it is; open and raw and I hope you took something from it too. Sometimes exercise is more than just looking physically healthy, sometimes it is paramount in one's mental and hormonal and emotional states too.

Have yourself a fabulous day; do something you love and as always; EAT SOMETHING DELICIOUS!! Bye for now friendly friends! :D

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