There are any number of reasons to run and running can mean so many different things to different people. Some people run to set personal best times; some run for competition, to challenge themselves against others; some run for health or to lose weight; some run as a personal challenge to see how fit then can get; some run for peace of mind or as a therapy to deal with stress or hyperactivity; some run for quiet time to pray or think; some run to explore or enjoy nature; some run for the social and community aspects of the sport; some prefer to pursue long distance such as marathons or ultras and some prefer shorter distances like mile, 5k or 10k. There are almost an infinite number of possibilities on how someone might choose to partake in running. But none of these reason is right for, or motivates everyone. We are each on our own journey in running and must decide how it fits into our life.
Unfortunately one problem I regularly see as a running coach is runners letting others' expectation dictate how they choose to pursue the sport. Some people run marathons because they think they are suppose to or because others expect them to, but they really would rather focus on 5k's. Some run races even though they really have no interest in them simply because it is expected of them by others. Some are peer pressured into group runs when they really prefer the solitude of solo runs. None of this happens maliciously, it is just that many people assume others have the same motivations or interest as they do, when often it is not the case. When you stop pursuing running in the way that is most important to you, and instead follow the path of others' expectations, you will often run into burn-out and disinterest and soon lose your motivation to get out there.
The purpose of this blog then is to point this out. That running doesn't mean the same thing to everyone and that is OK. In fact that is a beauty of the sport, that it can mean so many different things to different people. It is fine to take your own path in the sport as long as it is what you want and is true to your interests and passions. So stand up for yourself, be honest with yourself, and choose to pursue running how it will mean the most to, and be the best for you. Afterall that is why you started it in the first place.
And be conscious of the fact that others may have different motivations and goals or uses for the sport than you do. Be courteous and encouraging to them rather than trying to convert them to your motivations or uses. There is room in this great sport for everyone, enjoy, embrace and marvel at our diversity.
Coach Mark Hadley