When I was a teenager, I started running because I wanted to be in shape for soccer and for cross country season.
When I was in my 20s, I started running again because I wanted to fit in my wedding dress.
When I was in my 30s, I picked up running once again because I wanted to train for a marathon…and hopefully lose some weight while I was at it.
I will be 40 soon, and my running habit has slowed down, although it has not stopped like it did when I was in my teens and 20s. These days, I seem to only go when the mood strikes me…which is not as often as I’d like.
I want to go for a run, but…first I need to do these dishes, and then I need to work, and I have to take the dog to the vet, and I have a dentist appointment, and I need to go to Costco again, and oh yeah, I should pay some bills. Oh well. I guess I’ll run another day. I’ll just lift weights in the garage.
Recently—while I was complaining about not seeing the results of my workouts—my husband reminded me about the times when I was most successful in my health and fitness goals.
“You need to figure out your why,” he said. (Sometimes he’s like my own personal Yoda, except with better grammar).
My why! Of course! As in, why did I not think of this myself? It’s something I’ve actually told him and it’s even something I’ve written about before, and still, I didn’t notice it. I don’t have a why right now.
Why am I working out? Well, obviously, I like the health benefits and want to be stronger. But that’s not very specific. In fact, I think this is the reason a lot of people give up on their fitness goals—they have not defined their why. They’re just doing it to “lose weight” or “feel better.” But WHY do they want to lose weight and feel better? And what do those two things look like specifically?
One of the reasons I began running and exercising in my 30s, other than training for a marathon, was to strengthen my body—specifically my core. I had a back problem at the age of 31 that caused me to walk like I was 91. My why was to be able to walk normally again, without pain, and to be able to run marathons and half marathons, of course.
That why sustained me for a better part of my 30s. But now that exercise is a way of life for me…hmmm. What is my why? What keeps me going? What will push me to the next level?
As I enter a new decade, it’s time to re-up my goals. Why do I want to run? What am I doing all these workouts for? Do I want to set a new 5K PR? Do I want to lift a certain amount of weight? Be able to do a pull-up? I need to think about it.
And if you haven’t thought about it, before you go on your next run, ask yourself: Why am I running?
Kerrie Turcic is a runner from Maple Valley, Wash. Kerrie is currently a copywriter by day, and also a