1 | Seek First to Understand | Why I Run

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

I was posed a question by a friend of mine not too long ago that sparked a weird inner conversation. While at the bar, I was attempting to explain the reason why I was not really drinking that night. I explained that I had a planned run with two friends the next morning and did not want to find my self in a comatose, self-loathing hungover state when I woke up the following morning. They looked at me with a puzzled look, and simply asked “Why?” Ready to fire back as to the reasoning behind my thought process that night, I stopped and realized that I did not have a single concrete answer as to why I was going to put my body through 2 hours of suffering the following morning. So I stopped my initial reaction and answered simply, “Honestly, I do not know, ask me in 6 months and I might have an answer for you.” In that moment, not having an answer bothered me because how can I portray the value of running to someone else if I do not understand it myself? So, I decided that I would think about this question, and formulate some type of answer that hopefully would make sense both internally and externally.

The following morning I got up at 05:30 to prepare for a 14 mile trail run at Brandywine Creek State Park. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, scarfed down a bagel with cream cheese, drank a cup of coffee, and turned on Billy Yang’s 2015 UTMB documentary for some ambient background noise. This is my usual pre-long run routine, that helps to prepare and motivate me before the however long morning I have planned for myself. I have watched this specific video countless of times yet Zach, Tim, and David’s journey through the rolling hills of Mont Blanc still stoke a fire inside of me before tackling the “arduous” terrain of Wilmington, DE. After breakfast and the video ends, I make sure all of my gear is ready to go and at a hands reach. Water, check, GU gels, check, Hoka One One Speedgoat 2s (aka. ThiccBois), check, and last but not least chapstick, check. Once everything is in order I set off to pick up Dan and meet Kyle at BCSP to get the workout going.

A precise routine is the first why that draws me to running. Humans are creatures of habit and comfort. I am no different, and running gives me the ability to prepare as if I am getting ready to accomplish some prodigious feat of endurance ability. It is something as small the pre-run routine, to the gear check, to the music, or the in-run cadence of breathing, in which I find solace in and excites me for the next time that I am on the road or on the trail.

“Proper, Preparation, Prevents, Poor, Performance.” - J.P.

The best way to lose weight is running, there is no substitute, and there never will be. Proper eating habits and a consistent running regiment will allow you to slowly, but surely become the “best version” of yourself, whatever that may be for you. I can confidently say this because I experienced it first hand. In 2014 I found myself severely out of shape, weighing in at 265 lbs. I had a diet comprised of fast food, high amounts of sugar, and not a single hint of green anything in sight. I was never cooking at home and found myself relying on whatever food was convenient and in arms reach at any given moment. I was also a “bored eater,” that would turn to food if I ever found myself alone with time to kill. Fast forward to now, I am hovering around 180 lbs and can confidently say that I am in the best shape of my life. Running (in addition to Yoga, which is a different story) and positive habits of meal prepping every week, watching the snack intake, and never believing I am on a diet have allowed me to accomplish what I have up to this point. People that know me from college often ask, “Well you are skinny now, why not take it easy a little bit.” This is often met with the answer of, “It is just a lifestyle and I am used to it.” I am a firm believer of the thought that you can not out-train your diet. If you want the results, it truly requires a lifestyle change and a commitment to the process. The process never ends it just changes. Finding myself at a comfortable weight and proud of the body that I have, I no longer run to lose weight. The reason has become something different, living inside my head rather than what is portrayed on the outside.

I have been consumed by running, something that in my wildest thoughts, I “knew” at one point I would never say. Because of this I have studied running and have read the stories of some of the best runners from around the world. Kílian Jornet, Anton Krupicka, Zach Miller, David Laney, David Goggins, Haruki Murakami, Courtney Dauwalter, Lucy Bartholomew, and the list continues to grow. Reading, listening, and playing back their stories, there seems to be a common thread of why each and everyone of them has been able to train hard, race harder, and become their best. That common thread is now what ignites me.

“Running is street fight between your mind and your body.” This short quote comes to mind every time I run and it is not going particularly well. It is the perfect articulation of what is interaly taking place during any type of run. It can even happen when you find yourself staring at your shoes, debating on wether or not to get up and go. Side note, if someone who runs tells you that, “I have never woke up and said I really do not feel like running today,” they are lying to make friends. Every great runner that I have listened intently to, have had moments when their mind took control of their body. Took control in a way that they were able to push well beyond what their physical body was supposed to be able to handle. The mind won the fight, and propelled them to do something that literally thought their body was not capable of doing. It is a moment, like I said that can come in different forms, in different times, and at different mileage points. I feel like I have had these moments during my short time as a runner. They manifest to remind you that running is the single most humbling activity you can put yourself through. However, the moment where you tap into the part of the brain that sends signals to your body is a pretty cool place to live, even for just a moment. It is your mind telling you that you are not “done” and that you can push through the quicksand you may feel like you are trudging through. It is a mental place that I believe I will chase for the rest of my life. Constantly trying to get to a space that only exists when your body is ready to completely collapse (I laughed at myself writing that sentence).

This is some pretty heady stuff that I did not realize existed until recently. Running has changed from an activity to spark weight loss to a full-on addiction for me. There will be days that suck. When it is raining, cold, too hot, and days that you end the run early because you feel defeated. There will be other times where you get to the end of a run and feel like you can conquer the world. It is the mountains, valleys, ebbs, and flows you might find your reason “why.” The reason I wrote this is to share my experiences. If you ask me why I run the next time you see me, do not be surprised if you get a different answer. The reason I wrote this is because if I can help someone find their “why”, then the miles go beyond just numbers inside my Strava app.

- Jimmy

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