Why I Run Long Distances

Two years ago, I ran more than 5km for the first time in my life. It was agonising, but I was determined to get out of my comfort zone; doing a marathon sounded like an ideal challenge to take on.

Now, after 2858 km and three marathons (Tallinn, Sierra Leone, Great Wall), I’m beginning to see that there is much more to running than rising to a challenge or treating your body well.

Here is my updated list of reasons why I run long distances (in no particular order):

  • Running makes you feel good — Running has a magical effect on you. Even short jogs can make you feel blessed. I suspect that it’s a combination of exercise and meditation, which is the perfect way to relax after a hard day at work.
  • Restarting yourself — I tend to accumulate tension in my life over time. Once in a while, my body and mind require a hard restart. Literally pushing yourself to go that extra mile and breaking through your limits can help to “reboot” your body and mind. For example, after a marathon, your mind is empty and there is practically no strength in your body. That is the perfect time to start from a blank page. Some people drink to find that peace, but I’d rather go for a run.
  • Mind exercise — Long distance running has a lot to do with your mind. After a few kilometers, running gets harder, and after that, it becomes nearly impossible. At that point, you start to doubt your sanity, but over time, you will learn how to deal with hard times and train yourself to never quit.
  • Meditation — For many years, I did not understand the meditative effect of running. People described a seemingly magical state of mind, but all I experienced was pain. Then, one day when I was running with my friend, he provided a simple answer to my question. When you are having hard times, you are constantly listening to your body and mind, so you can make corrections and push harder to move past the pain. You are working with yourself, so there is no reason to think about work or social woes. My friend was right; that is the perfect way to meditate — alone with your own thoughts.
  • Relationships — Running helps you find new like-minded friends who do not want to sit back and watch life pass them by. They feel the need to push themselves forward, and that can encourage you to do the same. Also, when someone stays beside you and supports you during hard times, those relationships tend to be stronger and more intimate.
  • New cultures and experiences — Occasionally, running allows you to travel to find new tracks or competitions. You will also experience new cultures, people and situations. Marathons only last for a few hours, but your adventure can go on for much longer, which is the perfect opportunity to experience something new and exciting.

Now, it’s your turn to share…why do you run?