Why I Run

Me Thursday 13th June 2024

I run for myself. I run for my family. I run for my colleagues. I run to allow my brain to filter the day’s noise. But mostly, I run for myself.

I have a rough running schedule taped to the fridge, so my wife knows when I’m aiming to go out. By 8pm the children are all in bed, we’ve figured out what we’ll have for dinner later. All I have to do is go out for a run. Easy, right? But binging Netflix would also be easy…sitting on the sofa would also be easy…scrolling social media would be easy…So why do I run? How do I beat the mind goblin who whispers to me?

The spectre of the mind goblin sits at the fringes of my mind. I know that if I don’t do something to get those endorphins and dopamine flowing, it will start to creep in. I was never a sporty child. I did mini-rugby until I was 13, but that was my only active pursuit. I preferred books, movies and (yes, cliché time) the lure of the computer. But later in life I’d often get stuck in a rut, either personally or professionally. I’d deeply focus on a problem, until it became all encompassing. I had to have an outlet for my brain to switch off, and I found running. The benefits of exercise for wellbeing are well documented and I’ve found it needs to be part of my life to stay mentally healthy. So that’s what gets me to lace up my shoes, and get out of the door. Part of my brain craves that post-run feeling and it wants some of those magic vibes.

The first 1k are always terrible, as my joints ache, my lungs complain and part of my brain screams “this again!?”. But then it starts to subside, I start to watch the scenery, or pay attention to the podcast plugged into my ears. I start to tune out the noise of my laboured breathing, and the pounding of my feet. I start to spot the wildlife along the canal, or see a gorgeous sunset over Edinburgh’s hills. I’m into the rhythm now and I nod at fellow runners, dodge cyclists, and keep an eye out for the e-bike youths. I stop and walk a bit, but not for too long, I don’t want to stray too far from the running pace. I glance at the time, and think of the sofa back at home. I’m just about at the halfway point – almost the best point of the run when I know I’m on the return leg.
The return leg is always faster, and my senses strain to hear the beep of my watch as it hits the magical 5, 8, 10k – whatever I’m supposed to be running today. The beep of the watch finally arrives and I slow to a walk, stopping my watch.

I did it. I went out.

The endorphins flow, the “runner’s high” kicks in and I’m king of my world.

I made myself go out and run. Using only my brain to move my legs faster. If I can do that, I can do anything. It’s all a state of mind.


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