this was the question a small girl sitting on her front porch asked me as i ran past her house during the third run of a run/bike/run/bike/run workout i did this past weekend. very good question, i thought to myself as i ran away into the dwindling daylight nearly four hours into my training session. why do i swim/bike/run as much as i do, pushing myself as far as i can? why do we do anything that pushes us physically or mentally? it’s hard work, and often time when your legs and lungs are begging for you to quit, it sure as hell doesn’t feel like fun.
i’m certainly not going to try and answer this question for anyone else. heck, i struggle to find the reasons i do it for myself from time to time. but i feel it’s an important question that needs to be asked if you find yourself embarking on, in the middle of, or possibly nearing the end of an endeavor. maybe you’re trying to loose 20 pounds, finish that first 5k, or like me, run a season full of triathlon races. just doing things for the sake of doing them is fine i guess, but it’s likely going to be a long road. doing things that matter to what you hold most valuable, on the other hand, might just make the journey that much better.
say what you will about lance armstrong, but he was quoted as saying ‘all endurance athletes are running from something’. i couldn’t agree more. i know i am. running from that hospital bed that held my mom and dad these past few years. running from the boredom that creeps into an idle mind, and yeah, i’ll admit it – running from the loneliness i sometimes find living life as a single person. don’t get me wrong; personally, the pros still outweigh the cons, but those days still do happen.
so that’s one reason. the other, and honestly the main reason, is the fact i simply enjoy it. nothing beats the cool morning wind in your face while on the bike, or hearing the birds sing through rustling leaves on a warm summer day while out for a run. even seeing other people in the pool does it for me, knowing they are getting themselves off the couch in an effort to make themselves fitter and ultimately feel better. physically, there’s not a better feeling in world. sweat running down my arms, muscles aching, air rushing in and out of my lungs – this is when i feel most alive. and the icing on the cake? the sense of accomplishment you feel when you finish a tough workout, or cross the finish line at a race event. i always say it’s like getting an A on your first written report in primary school or hearing ‘you’re cavity free’ at the dentist. going into it, there are nerves and apprehension. during the process, it’s hard to keep up the effort, and there are ways to sluff off around every bend. but afterwards, there’s relief and a personal sense of pride.
in the end, this all leads to one thing. happiness. to do something tough, often when nobody is watching (or frankly when nobody could give a damn), and sticking it through to the end takes guts. but i don’t think i’ve ever not smiled through the pain after finishing a killer workout or race. and that’s why i continue to do what i do. i had my days of being unhappy. pessimistic. and i’ve decided those days are done. being happy is just so much better, it really is. so ask yourself: why am i doing the things i am doing? then ask yourself this: with the limited amount of time i have on this earth, am i doing the things i should be doing with my life? the answer may surprise you.