Why Running Isn’t a Selfish Sport
Our support system (bless them) put up with a lot: Listening to us ramble endlessly about running, stinky wet running clothes, an inappropriate amount of old yard shoes (otherwise known as shot running shoes), tripping over foam rollers, lost toenails, pantries full of GU, sinks full of fuel belt bottles… You get the idea. The list could go on forever.
The best runners cannot be their best without the support of those closest to them. That support comes in many forms. It could be as simple as someone asking about a race, someone else asking in detail about your mile splits or your roommate who puts up with all the running paraphernalia around your place. The range of support is wide, but needed. And every so often, the support seems to take a toll and the accusations or frustration with our running obsession comes out.
Usually the frustration lies in the seeming selfishness of the sport. Maybe it’s because running is a non-team sport or that we get very involved. No matter the reason, calling running selfish would be inaccurate. And if you are like me, it’s better for everyone if I get my run in.
A Saner, Happier You
There is a saying, “Sometimes the best thing about my day is completely exhausting myself.” That’s true for a lot of us, not because we’re miserable with the rest of our life but we are generally a pretty high energy bunch. While a great attribute, and probably why running is your jam, it’s not always ideal to be bubbling with that energy in everyday situations. No one needs to walk around amped all the time. It’d be like permanently tapering.
After going for a run, things seem so much clearer and seem to happily remain in their designated container. Inevitably, my peak performance and optimal problem solving at the office came after decent morning run. Other days while being home with a toddler, pounding out miles can center me and give me a sense of control that I often don’t have the rest of the day. The structure and control running can provide to us places us in the best possible head-space for life. Even though running can elicit frustration on its own, running can deter or manage frustration in other situations. Solutions or emotional evaluation and release can be found in the solace of running. We’ve covered many benefits of running, and having a saner, happier doesn’t just benefit you. It can benefit those who are around you as well.
Due to the passion we have for our sport, a lot of our interpersonal circles forget that running isn’t just a hobby. It’s a way to exercise and stay healthy. Now, I would be very insulted if someone told me that running is just exercise or just a hobby. I am saying no one else would be targeted as being selfish for exercising and taking care of their body especially in one of the most efficient ways possible. When I go out on Saturday mornings, I am exercising, being social and spending time doing something I enjoy. My husband on the other hand exercises, tinkers in the garage and then goes out for drinks with friends, all to accomplish what I can do in one run. While all couples and sets of friends can get fussy about too much time with others or too much time spent on a hobby, no one gets upset when people go exercise. Often people fail to recall that running is good for our bodies. We are pushing our bodies, adapting to the elements and hopefully adding to the time we on this Earth with loved ones.
Runners are one of the most charitable groups of people around. I doubt there is one runner who has not at one time or another raised money for a charity no matter if fundraising is a thing for them or not. Most of the time our races provide money to organizations that are around to better the lives of others. Upon evaluation, roughly 80% of races raise money for some type of charitable organization or cause. I doubt that a random guy in Any City, USA that has a hobby of flying model airplanes can say that the culmination of his flying days is to fly an event that raises money for a charity. I am not saying other sports are not charitable, but runners are pretty selfless.
There is a local group in my town that provides free routes with bathrooms and water fountains, a designated meeting spot Saturday mornings, a private Facebook page and weekly emails. The only catch? You raise money for a charity of your choice and self-report. The name of the group is Run 4 Others. It’s all in the spirit of camaraderie and others.
Some people start running selfishly to lose weight or sleep better. However, the people who continue to run will run because it makes us the best version of ourselves. And I much prefer give the best version of myself to the world.