Why Aren’t You Running?

My friend ran a quarter marathon yesterday and was debriefing me on his experience. He ran less than a 7-minute mile for the whole 6.55 mile race. Pretty darn good for a guy who could not finish one mile a mere 3 years ago. I was very proud of him and congratulated him. Then he asked me, “Why aren’t you running, Rach?”

I did not really answer, but shrugged and looked away. I ran zero miles in the past few months and did not seem to notice. Suddenly, I began to wonder why I signed up for Race for the Cure and Warrior Dash this year.

I did not feel bad about myself; yet I could not help but ponder, “Why aren’t I running?”

I wondered if I got lazy, got bored, or just decided that running is not my forte and not something I should do with my time. Looking back, though, I remember enjoying the experience, the personal victories, and the way my body felt after the hard work.

I never liked to call myself “a runner” because I did not want the responsibility of meeting other people’s expectation of what being “a runner” meant. I completed a marathon in 2008, but my time was not anything worth mentioning. But of course, everyone wanted to know my time. I always brushed it off, said it was not good and that I did not care because I was more concerned with finishing than getting a good time. That seemed to satisfy everyone and they did not ask anymore questions.

But when confronted with a question like, “What aren’t you running?” dodging the answer seemed more like quitting or being lazy than being dissatisfied with my race time. There is no place to run when you are asked a question like that (pun definitely intended).

So, I have been asking myself for the past 18 hours, “Why am I not running?” I suppose I go for a jog when I feel like it or to relieve stress; but, there is no way to trick myself into thinking I am following a training regimen.

Do I want to run? Is running really important to me? Is it something that people associate with my life, such that when I do not do it, I am acting abnormally? Am I not a runner if I do not sign up for races or train hard? Am I not a runner if I am not fast or do not aim to get under a 7-minute mile for more than 2 miles? Do I even like running?

In this reflection, I realized that I can be whatever I want to be. Not running for a few months or training for a race does not mean that I am not a runner – maybe I am just on a sabbatical. I have been doing a lot more yoga lately, a lot more walking, and a lot more breathing. In other words, I have been doing slower things.

Also, I realized that my decline in speed and endurance does not disqualify me from being a runner nor does it make me a lousy runner. It simply means I have a lot of work to do if I want to run like I used to.

Perhaps I will pick up a routine and train for a half marathon this year. But if I do not, I probably will not feel disappointed in myself. And if people ask me the question, “Why aren’t you running?” I may just tell them the honest truth: because I don’t want to.

I think we put too much pressure on ourselves to live up to other people’s expectations. We also have a tendency to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We have heard these statements many, many times, but we do not seem to believe them completely.

Instead of focusing on what other people want or what we even want, I think we just need to be honest with ourselves and ask, “Do I even like this thing that people are telling me I should do and that I am putting pressure on myself to do?” If the answer is “yes”, then we need to get off our lazy behinds and get to work. If the answer is a genuine “no”, then there is nothing more to ponder. If you want to learn to like running, then maybe you can try to run a little in your spare time. If you do not like running and have absolutely no desire whatsoever to start enjoying running, then who cares? I am sure there is something else that you enjoy and are more likely to do.

So, figure out what it is you like to do and just do that. Put up your blinders and do not let other people make you feel bad that you are not doing what they are doing. You will find that you are much happier and more willing to get off the couch, even on a rainy day, to do the activities you enjoy than to force yourself to do the activities you do not enjoy simply because other people think you should.

As for me, I realize that I do enjoy running – I have just been lazy. So, I am starting my training today. I have put this off for far too long. That question, “Why aren’t you running?” was a gift and a reality check. I encourage you to ask yourself the same question and gently challenge your friends to evaluate their realities. Sometimes, we just need a little push from a good friend to get back on track.

Well, gotta run…


  1. Annie says:

    Yes! This was a great read for me, particularly as a newbie runner. I think a big reason why I avoided running in the past was because I didn’t want to be pressured into following a certain training regimen. I wanted to run for myself and in my own way. I wanted to run to the beat of my own drummer. (Eh, eh, see what I did there?) That being said, once I started running, I found that occasional, encouraging inquiries into my new hobby were motivating. When the people in my life show interest in the things that I do, it helps to remind me why I started doing those things in the first place. :-)

    • Rachael says:

      “I wanted to run for myself and in my own way.” Great point, Annie. It is so important for us to prioritize what we want and not give into social pressures. It is just not worth it. Also, your discovery that “occasional, encouraging inquiries into [your] new hobby were motivating,” is spot on. Keep those people in your life for continuous support! Great job, and keep running YOUR way!

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