Why Do You Run? A Running Nerd Confesses

running, reasons to run

Why do you run? (Photo: Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea/US Marine Corps)

Happy National Running Day, everyone! It’s the 5th anniversary of the event, and I’m proud to say I’ve been a runner for every one of them.

Part of the National Running Day campaign allows runners to make an “I Run…” badge. It can be any reason you run, a place you run anything. This year, my badge says, “I Run Because I Can!” There was a decade of my life where running was so painful that I avoided it by any means possible. You can read about that here.

Sadly, I won’t be running today. I fell off a horse on Sunday—more to come on that in another post—and landed on my hip. It’s pretty sore and I’m going to get an x-ray just to be sure everything is alright. I don’t want to run and potentially make it worse. Being injured reminds me to appreciate every day that I can run.

National Running, Day, free events


So in honor of National Running Day, I thought I’d share the top 10 reasons why I run. I first came up with this list in 2010 and it’s still true. I’ve also updated it a bit for this year.

So here goes. Here are the top 10 reasons I run, in no particular order.

I run because…

1). I love it. Running makes me happy. I enjoy running. And the times that I don’t, well, I remind myself how good it is for me, which leads me to the next reason…

running, hot dogs

Karla pigs out at Portillo’s Hot Dogs in Chicago after running a marathon. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

2). My doctor told me to. Actually two different doctors in two different cities in two different decades. Both of them are orthopedic surgeons who specialize in knees—I have arthritis in one knee and the remnants of a bone tumor below the other. Why did they tell me to run? It’s good for my bones, it’s good for my heart, it’s good for my lungs, it’s good for my muscles, it’s good for my joints, it’s good for my metabolism, it’s good for my mind. In other words, it’s good for my health and it’s good for me. So when those naysayers tell you you’ll ruin your knees by running, you can refer them to either of my doctors.

3). I love to eat. Now that my age starts with a “3,” I’ve actually noticed my metabolism slowing down. Gasp. Thank goodness I run. Instead of having to eat like a bird, I still get to eat like a runner. Yum.

4). It gives me energy. Runner Karla has a lot more pep than non-runner Karla. And I generally have more energy on the days that I run versus the days that I do not.

running, runners high

High on life after a beach front run in Tonga. (Photo: Phil Hospod)

5). Running makes me feel good about myself. It’s kind of like getting a hug from my mom. Running makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me feel good about the way I look, and it makes me feel good about who I am. Why? I don’t really know. It just does. It’s magical that way.

6). I think clearly while I’m running. Whether I’ve got a problem to solve, need to blow off steam, want to meditate, or organize my day, I always seem to do it well while I’m running. Things just come together when I’m alone in my thoughts away from my computer, my phone, and all the other distractions of life. Yes, sometimes I concentrate just on my running—charging the hill, listening to my breath, relaxing my shoulders. But other times, I let my mind wander wherever it needs to.

running, Snow White

Making like Snow White. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

7). I am high on life. As Donovan once sang, “The natural high is the best high in the world.” And the runner’s high is like happy juice. Honestly, on some runs my thoughts mirror what I imagine Snow White’s to be like: “Oh, what lovely flowers! Oh, what an adorable little bird! Oh, how crisp the air is!” It makes me feel like a kid again, back in the days when just about everything was exciting. That’s probably why runDisney is so appealing to me and so many other runners. It melds the physical exertion of racing and the pure joy of life, capturing what it feels like to be a kid again.

8). I like being on a team. Remember playing sports as a kid? Half the fun was the sport itself, but the other half was hanging around with other kids. Now that we’re adults and we’re not in PE class or on varsity teams, we don’t always get that sense of camaraderie. But running with friends, or a club, or a team gives me a community where I’m encouraged and welcomed and teased and challenged—where I enjoy true fellowship. You can even extend that to all the socializing runners do on our blogs, Twitter, Facebook and all the other online channels. We’re part of a large community of like-minded folks. It’s a community I really enjoy.

running, ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

I love that running lets me be goal oriented. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

9). I’m a goal-oriented person. Running gives me a ready-made framework for setting and achieving goals, whether it’s nabbing a PR, tackling a new distance, or just upping my mileage. I love the structure that training provides, jotting down notes nerdily in my training journal and geeking out over my online data.

10). I run because I can. There were many years when I couldn’t run. There are many people who can’t. Being able to run is a gift, and I don’t ever want to take that for granted. I’m thankful to be able to run, so I run as a celebration of the fact that I can.

Those are just a few of the reasons I run. But I’d like to hear from you. Why do you run?

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ show about running. She has finished six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla at RunKarlaRun.com, The Washington Times Communities, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a regular contributor to SHAPE.com, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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06 2013

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