Why I Run

Middle school was weird. Before I could blink, cute little ol’ me was replaced with a gangly 5’9” adolescent who looked like she would be blown over if the wind was just right. As I struggled to find pants that would cover my ankles, I can remember my family telling me I had the perfect body for running: tall and thin. So, I decided to give it a shot. For half of middle school, I laced up my running shoes after school and trotted around as a member of both the cross country and track teams. It was hard at first, but I was certain that if I kept at it, it would “click” and I would unlock my amazing running potential.

SPOILER ALERT: It didn’t.

I didn’t understand. I was trying my best, but when we got the team results, there I was, bringing up the rear in every race. I just wasn’t getting better. Despite me putting forth my best effort, I would still get lapped by the entire team during practice.

Yes, this is true. Yes, this is moderately embarrassing, but just stick with me for a little longer.

Unsurprisingly, I quit competitive running in high school. I still bust out my shoes a couple times during the week to run on my own, but I have tried very hard to avoid any and all conversations dealing with mile times or training schedules. I never felt like I could call myself a runner, and comparing myself to other people makes me feel very inadequate, to say the least.

So why do I run? Why do I huff and puff around campus at what can best be described as a very slow jog? It’s not because I want to medal at a race, or because I’m trying to cut my mile time. I run for the unstoppable feeling it gives me. I’m not talking the feel-good endorphins released during exercise, because believe me, the unstoppable feeling does not happen during every run, or even during half of them. Most of the time when I run, it turns into a countdown of how much longer I have to go before I can sit down again.

However, I still keep at it. I go out there and suffer through bad runs, blisters, and the occasional face plant on the sidewalk because I am after something bigger than being the first to cross the finish line. I wish I could adequately describe the experience to you, because it’s pretty freakin’ awesome, but it’s hard to find the right words.

During that time, I experience happiness in its simplest form. All the noise fades, and I’m left to enjoy my surroundings, my breath, my playlist--even my turtle-slow pace. It’s the moment where I am enough, where I feel proud of myself and where my pesky self-doubting thoughts are muted. Instead of my mind and body fighting each other, they put aside their differences for this little window of time and allow me to appreciate all of which I am capable.

This might sound extremely cheesy to you. It might sound like I ripped a page out of a bargain bin self-help book and tried to present it to you as a “groundbreaking guide to lifelong happiness.” But, if you’ve had similar experiences in your runs, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a feeling I have yet to find anywhere else, and that feeling is enough to inspire me to get out and go, even on my bad days.  

Written by Jenny Beuschel, 2016 Michigan Fitness Ambassador