Out There: Why Run?

Illustration: Matt Collins

Many of the tangible “reasons” don’t even begin to answer the question of why we run. 

This past October, I was approached by a writer for a lifestyle magazine. “We’re working on our ‘New Year, New You’ issue,” she said, “and we think you’d be perfect to give some tips on running for weight loss!”

I leaned back in my chair with a skeptical look. “You know I’m not an expert, right? I write the humor column for a running magazine. Mostly bad jokes about gas and chafing. I’m not exactly Jenny Craig over here.”

“But didn’t you lose weight by running?”

“Yes, but I didn’t—and still don’t—run with the intent of losing weight.”

“Oh.” A long pause followed as she pursed her lips quizzically. “So, why run, then?”


Most of us runners have encountered this sentiment, whether it’s Uncle Jack loudly declaring, “I won’t run unless something is chasing me!” or your co-worker who took up running to slim down for her June wedding. There are a lot of people who use the sport solely as a means to an end. Running for fun? That simply isn’t possible.


— New Year’s Celebration

Making Miracles Happen

So why run? We don’t always have an answer to that question. Instead, we hem and haw, stammering until we find something tangible:

Because it’s a guaranteed hour every day when my spouse will watch the kids.

To witness the most beautiful sunrise my city has to offer.

Because my happiness and my mileage follow the exact same trajectory.

Because I’m a cancer survivor, and I’d like to keep it that way.

To get free pancakes after the race.

Because I know my boss (and his demands) won’t follow me onto the trail.

To prove the naysayers wrong.

For the bragging rights.

Because I like it.

Because I can.

Because after 30 years of failed “New Year, New You”-s, I finally have the confidence to say I like Current Me—and actually mean it.

But those “reasons” don’t even begin to answer the question of why we run. One thing is for certain though: When we use running as a way to hit a certain pant size, it takes away from all the sport has to offer—which is a lot. Maybe this year, we could all take the focus off the weight-loss benefits of running and instead just talk about how good it feels.

So, tell me…why run?


About The Author:

Susan Lacke does 5Ks, Ironman Triathlons, and everything in between to justify her love for cupcakes (yes, she eats that many). In addition to writing for Competitor, she serves as Resident Triathlete for No Meat Athlete, a website dedicated to vegetarian endurance athletes. Susan lives and trains in Phoenix, Arizona with three animals: A labrador, a cattle dog, and a freakishly tall triathlete boyfriend. She claims to be of sound mind, though this has yet to be substantiated by a medical expert. Follow her on Twitter: @SusanLacke

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