Why do you run?

I recently took an interesting continuing education class about running injuries, treatment and prevention. Overall it was a great course with lots of information and things to think about. One of the messages that hit me most was: find out why people run, get inside their head to understand the injuries they might be dealing with and how to best help them.
It is an interesting thing to think about. I can see why it would be a helpful thing as well. I think about myself as a runner as well as patients I have dealt with when finding that reason really came into play. When I was a competitive athlete, I mostly ran to improve and achieve. I enjoyed the competition of it and it pushed me to run harder. I always wanted to push the limits of my body so that I could prepare for the next race, work toward the next goal. Always running toward something. When I had an injury, I could not handle someone telling me to take a day off. Mentally, that wasn’t an option. Rest was not an option, because I was running toward something. If I rested, I thought to myself how I could never achieve that goal. Knowing this about myself has taught me that when you are working with a Type A, OCD long distance runner on a mission to achieve a goal, you can’t just tell them to rest. Rest doesn’t heal the body when the mind can’t handle rest. Yes, sometimes rest is needed, but almost always, you can fill that rest with some sort of exercise that can help that athlete feel mentally and prepare physically to be working toward something- which aligns with the reason they run in the first place. This also needs to be combined with thorough education so they clearly understand the how, why and what of the healing phase and how to move through the injury in the most efficient way.
Then there are the runners who are more running from something. Running away from stress, running away from excess weight, running away from depression. While running is equally important to these runners, often they can handle a change to the running training program as long as you can justify the treatment plan to allow for them to continue to utilize exercise for the needs they have. While as a young competitive athlete, I would never have understood these runners, I get it now. Right now, as a mom of 4 young kids (under 6), I run to escape the chaos, to energize myself and to have time to think all by myself. I can handle changes to routine in my exercise plan and have learned that when I am steadily getting <5 hours of sleep/night, I have to take it easier or my body starts to break down. I can still destress when I take the pace a little slower and give myself some grace for at least getting my workout in, even though I was exhausted. As my kids get older, I am sure my reasons for running might change. Maybe I will get back into the running towards, but I have learned to love and enjoy every phase of running for what it does for me.
What are your reasons. Are you running toward something? Away? Why do you run?

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