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Why do we run?

I woke eagerly this morning, following through with my plans to go for a run. After a long weekend of class, I was ready to hit the pavement.
The run was not that different from the hundreds of miles I’ve completed before. Today though, my body decided to remind me that I was only one week into exercising since the holidays. My knees were screaming. My tummy rumbled. The last remnants of the flu lingered in my chest. Despite the 500 songs on my ipod, I struggle to find any song of interest. ‘I think I can, I think I can’ looped in my head.
After thirty-five minutes I finally finished my usual loop and dragged my feet to my front door. I couldn’t help but ask ‘why do we run?’
Countless articles, blogs and even Youtube videos have covered this topic. Stats average around 50% of runners experience ongoing injuries and many of those training for races do not even make it to the start line. If you do get the finish, the impact of races like marathons can result in loss of toenails, a visit to the medic tent for over or under hydrating, digestion problems…you get the point, the list goes on and on.
So again, why do we run?!?
Despite all of this, I cannot imagine my life without running. It is my best form of meditation, where I come up with my best ideas and get lost in my music.
Running first entered my life through sports, like soccer. What established me as a competitive runner was in high school, when I was recruited to join the cross-country team. My first race was literally through the mountains of the Black Hills. I surprised my coach, family, teammates and even more myself of how well I did. It was settled; I was a runner.
I have deeply meaningful memories built around running, on top of fancy metals finishing two marathons and three half marathons. While the bling is great, it was the people that were part of those experiences that make them special.
Running is an activity woven into my relationship with my Dad. Coming home from college, it was always such a treat to get to have just him and I out on a run. One of my favorite races was with him, completing the Mickelson Trail Half Marathon a few years back.

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Another favorite race experience was the 2010 Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon, where I traveled with six other fabulous women to run. Most of the husbands traveled along too, so we had a cheering section too! I guess there were some race operation issues, but I loved the opportunity to run the strip at night. The girls might not know it yet, but in the next year my goal is to get us together again for a race (plus others that are willing). Any recommendations out there for half marathons?
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I also need to give a shout out to my #1 race spectator, my husband. Since meeting him almost ten years ago, I have finally got him (willingly) running. Thank you for doing your best to see me along race courses and always meeting me with water and bananas (which you hate) at the finish. I had hit the figurative marathon ‘wall’ at mile 20 in the 2011 LA Marathon and he joined me for the last six miles to see me to the finish. I am not sure I would have been able to finish that day if it was not for him.
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The finish of a race is emotional. Some people cry, scream, sing or yell. The runners high is something I encourage everyone to experience at least once. Problem is though, you will love it. The drug that hooks you hard. So addictive that you will get up early, dodge near death experiences from traffic, run on injuries, tape your nipples, overload on pasta, have endless digestive ‘challenges’ and spend all your extra money on the endless running doodads and race fees. None the less, I am happily addicted.
So are you a runner? Why do you run?
If you answered no, this is the part I ask why not? Forget the high, the metals, the runner community support or the physical, mental and emotional benefits. I ask you to run for people who cannot or the ‘future you’ that will not be physically able. I can’t say that it will be easy, because it won’t. Have some courage though, as one of my favorite quotes explains:
Congrats, you made it to the finish! My goal is to blog daily for the next six weeks, part of a Leap Blog Challenge. Check out more in my first post here. Thanks for reading 🙂

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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