Why Do I Run?
Through all the early mornings, wind, rain and sweat, Jazz unpins what drives her to keep running.
‘What are you doing?’ my housemate asked me the other week, as I was tying the laces of my Free Runs, getting ready to head out into the dark on a rainy Monday evening.
‘For a run,’ I replied.
‘Oh my god, you’re mad. Why?’ she asked.
I didn’t even know. As I was cruising round the streets of St Pauls, people were heading out for drinks or waiting under shelters at bus stops, all looking at me in utter confusion. I used to be one of those people. Admittedly yes, I had been having a perfectly relaxing night in at home on the comfort of my sofa, yes, dinner was being cooked for me and we were all sat around watching a film. A pavement slab I’d just run over had given way to what felt like a lake underneath it, my shoes were drenched and my freshly washed hair was a mess. But I was beginning to find my stride. I could feel my heart rate rising and my muscles warming, it was getting easier. Gradually my breathing wasn’t so frantic and I could reach the top of my breath again. I was weaving in and out of people with ease, feeling like Mo Farah on a last lap of an Olympic final [I did NOT look like this]. The endorphins were kicking in; and I felt good.
Maybe I’d spent too much time on my sofa procrastinating during first year, but now whenever I find myself in that situation, all I want to do is get up and run.
Running is something I’ve been doing for years, but never made sense to me until I came to university, and I took it up in an attempt to get fit. Maybe I’d spent too much time on my sofa, watching films and procrastinating during first year, but now whenever I find myself in that situation, all I want to do is get up and run.
If you’re a runner, it’s pretty much impossible trying to explain to someone why you run.
‘But don’t you just feel like a dog chasing a tail?’, ‘But running is just so hard’.
Yes, it is hard. It requires a lot of effort. I went through school participating in absolutely no sporting activity. I finished last in every race, netball wasn’t my thing, and I dreaded cross-country with passion. I come from an incredibly active family- my mum was cross-country champion of the county during her school and college days, and now plays for Worcester ladies football team. My brother did judo and football, and my dad goes gym every other day. And there was me, the family potato. I was fed up of being left out and so actively decided to do something about that.
So why should you run? Other than me being able to join in with my family, there are so many other perks to the whole running thing.
Firstly, the endorphins. It is no joke, that stuff will have you feeling like you’re chilling on a big bubble cloud of comfort and satisfaction. How do you feel when you get back from a run? Chuffed: running is a natural urge we were born with. Children run playfully around playgrounds and after each other, and they don’t run for weight loss, or to hit a target, they run for enjoyment. It’s built into us as humans and by doing so, you release that incredible endorphin rush which is what keeps you getting up and doing it.
It’s important to find the time to turn the brain off for a while, and running allows you to do that.
Running rewards you with a sense of achievement. A lot of runners become fixated on the goal of beating a certain time, or running their fastest mile. But for me it was always about distance; running was unnatural to me and after years of failing to complete a lap of the track in school, to me every mile is massive achievement. I found becoming obsessed with setting difficult time goals and pushing to achieve them only provided me with brief satisfaction; the goal would be reached, thrown away, and immediately a new one was set. Take time to reward yourself. You’re amazing, you are improving, and you deserve to relish in that for a while.
A lot of the time we can spend hours sat at a desk, computer, or in front of the TV, moving little and slowly finding ourselves turning into spuds. If you work in an office it’s easy to spend eight hours a day sat down, which isn’t good for your blood flow, and running gets it all moving again. I’m an artist, so naturally a lot of time is spent in front of an easel or at a desk writing. Taking the time to get outside and stretch your legs feels pretty damn good after a long day not moving, and allows you the time to mentally unwind. It’s free and acts as the greatest de-stress mechanism. It’s important to find the time to turn the brain off for a while, and running allows you to do that.
And lastly- ‘me’ time. We all need it, and a lot of us don’t get enough of it. Life can be chaotic sometimes, whether we have busy jobs or wildly active social lives, sometimes we need some time away from that. Whether you’re pacing through busy streets in the city, climbing cross-country trails, soaked through the layers of clothes, fighting through strong winds or beaming sun, we start to reclaim the feeling of that childish joy. This is something that cannot be found at desks, in front of TVs or on sofas, and as we run we feel disconnected from life’s stress and responsibilities.
There are times when you’ll stop, when you’ll quit, but there’ll be times where you have pushed your body to a level it’s never been before, just you and your two legs. That sense of relief and achievement is yours to enjoy.
And if you’re looking to start up running, there are so many great groups to join in Bristol: