Non-runners see a crowd passing by at a road race and think we’re all in some way competing with one another.
What’s not apparent—until you’ve been there yourself—is that we are each running our own personal race, for our own reasons, with our own unique expectations.
Sure, you may be running for your place on the winner’s rostrum. More likely, though, you’re running to raise money for a charity, to set a healthy example for your kids, or just because you enjoy it. Maybe you love being in a crowd. Maybe you hate being in a crowd and are trying to get over your anxiety. Maybe your insufferable brother in law bet you couldn’t run a 10K and you want to show him just how wrong he is. Even if we’re running side by side, chances are I’ll never know why you’re there, and you won’t know why I am. But that’s fine, because there’s no bad reason to run. This lack of ‘why’ intrigues me.
At the same time that we’re each on our own, though, we’re all together in the race together. Running is the only sport I know where pros, elites, veterans, beginners, and even (sometimes) children all play together on the same field, at (more or less) the same time. We are all equal. Free of labels and perceptions. The New York Yankees would never take the field against the local twelve and under girls’ softball team. But a twelve-year-old girl might well pin on a race number and run the same race as Meb Keflezighi. And while he’ll obviously cross the line well ahead of her, she may, in her own way, have as good or better a race. Meb has his priorities, and that young girl has hers. Who’s to say whose priorities are better or more important?
Me? I’m running because I spent most of my life thinking I couldn’t run and finally realized that I could. I discovered you don’t have to be young or long-legged or naturally gifted. You just have to do the best you can and believe that it’s good enough. You just have to start. I don’t mind being near the back of the pack, because I’m proud even to have stepped up to the starting line. You see, this is in essence why we run… to start something, and each start is like new.
I may not know why you run, but whatever your reasons, I’ll cheer you on because I get it. Because we may each be running alone, but we’re all in this ‘life race’ together.
I’m keen to hear your thoughts
- Why do you run?
- Do you run for charities or good causes?