Why do run? Pt. 1 - Why did you start running?

The most complicated question in the universe. A question asked by probably everyone. A question so complex it could be referred to as the ultimate question. No, we’re not talking about ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ (that’s easy) We’re talking about THE question. ‘Why do you run?’

The first time I was ever asked ‘Why do you run?’ I was with my BAC teammates and we all just laughed in response to this supposedly obvious question that a random person shouted at us. But why did we just laugh? I didn’t actually know the answer to ‘Why do you run?’, I laughed because I was a 14 year old boy and I didn’t want to seem stupid in front of my mates, who probably felt the same way. 13ish years later I still don’t know the answer to ‘Why do you run?’ It’s a simple question, right? But really think about it, is it such a simple question? Why do YOU run? If it was such an obvious question why do you get asked it all the time? There are loads of reasons to run but why do you? ‘Why do YOU run?’

To understand ‘Why Do You Run?’ we need to first find out why you started in the first place. To do this we asked The Pack ‘Why did you start running?’ And gave them a choice of nine answers to pick from, plus the option to give us a more detailed reason as to why they started running.

Fitness came first place, which when you think about it makes a lot of sense. Running is arguably the easiest (and best) form of exercise to do. In very, very simple terms it’s putting one foot in front of the other faster than a walking pace. You don’t really need any special equipment apart from a half-decent pair of trainers. You don’t need a team or an expensive gym membership, and you don’t need a court or pitch either. To get fit, running is the obvious choice against other sports.

Coming in with the silver medal is ‘A Challenge’ At the time of writing this the ‘Run 5, Nominate 5, Donate 5’ challenge was at full pace, so this may have got a few more votes than it might have before or after lockdown. Nonetheless, a challenge has always been a very prominent way to get out of the blocks. It’s a way to push yourself mentally to run by bringing goals into the mix. ‘I bet you I can run faster than you’, ‘I’ve just done it so now you have to run it’, ‘I will run a sub 20 minute 5K by July’

The last spot on the podium goes to ‘Can’t remember I’ve been doing it so long’. To my day one runners, big love. You are an inspiration to us all.

Just missing out on the medals in joint fourth place was ‘Wanted to join a running club’ and ‘Cross country was compulsory at school’ something both of these have in common is the use of other people to encourage you to run. At school, your PE teacher is telling you to run laps as either part of the lesson or as a punishment for not taking part in another lesson. It might not be the most positive motivation to start running through. Compared to running in a club or group you thrive off each other, and through camaraderie and feeling like part of something you and your squad push each other to run.

In fifth we have ‘Something new’ and why wouldn’t you start running for something new? In life, you need to keep things interesting and do things that make you feel good. Running can certainly be that happy hit you need in life.

Coming in second to last we have ‘Inspired By A Role Model’ In my opinion, it’s a shame that this is not higher. Don’t get me wrong, most reasons to start running are good. However, runners at any level should be inspirational. To watch someone get out there and try to better themselves by running is amazing. Whether they are a world class athlete or just trying to run 5k a week, runners go out there and do it to push themselves to be better. On a wider scale, it might be because running just doesn't get the mainstream coverage it deserves, so people don’t get the opportunity to see runners as a role model.

And in last place was ‘Pushy Parents’ similar to your teacher at school telling you to run laps… but all the time. It’s probably a good thing this reason came in last.

So how does any of this help us to find the answer to ‘Why Do You Run?’ Well, why people started running has to be a key factor to help us work out why you run. If you look at the top two answers ‘Fitness’ and ‘A challenge’, these are both using running as a reason for self-improvement.

Fitness by its very nature is about being better i.e. ‘I can run faster’, ‘I’ve lost some unwanted weight’, ‘I feel healthier’. A challenge is driving you to be better by achieving something. Great so does that mean the answer to ‘Why Do You Run?’ Is self-improvement? Possibly, but it could be more about wanting to look good in front of others.

‘Joining a running club’ and ‘Cross country was compulsory at school’ both came in joint fourth. Both of these reasons to run involve someone else being the main motivation behind you running. This could also be said for ‘A challenge’ You might not want to Run 5, Nominate 5, Donate 5 but you are because someone else motivated you to do so.

Another factor we haven’t looked at yet is just being naturally good at running. Some very lucky people just are. Some of The Pack are such people; ‘I was good at it and enjoyed it’, ‘I was good at it in school haha’ and my personal fave ‘I did a cross country race for beavers when I was like 6 and won it by miles and have done it ever since’ If you're good at something, you're going to do it no matter the motivation.