WHY I RUN N°1
By North Bennett
I run because sometimes the world feels closed and I need an opening. I run because sometimes the dread becomes too heavy and I need to feel light and fast. I run when there is too much to do and nowhere to start and I can only muster one single decision, which is to run and not to stop. I run because sometimes the certainties that I’ve tricked myself into believing become too oppressive and some wiggle room is required. I run because the day gets thick and what I need is something to chisel through it—quick footsteps.
I run when the world feels vast and I desire a sense of location. I run because I can draw shapes with my strides. I can circle my neighborhood. I can serpentine squiggles. I can swerve around and around and string out the letters which declare I live here. I run because through running I might become a carpenter. With each street a plank, and each step a nail, then I run because the right sort of run might build me a home.
I run as a question, to pose small propositions in the form of footsteps. In the suspension of each stride floats a small wonder: What lays beyond this bend? And atop that hill? What might the bright view hold? And how about the dark ravine? I run for relentless inquiry and not for discovery. I run to jump over holes before certain answers can grab my ankles and drag me down.
I run because a run is a curiosity, a walk that excites itself with gratuitous little hops.
I run because a run is a gratitude, a daily reminder of all that deserves thanks.
I run because a run is a prayer, a body devoting itself to the outside world again and again.
But mostly I run because we run—friends, family, and strangers on the trail, our footsteps synced in common inconsequence, indulging in an act that produces little that is material and much that is not. I run because there is a special sort of affinity that develops in the jostle of shared strides. I run because some sentiments can only be expressed on the move. I run to feel open and among. I run to get closer to the people that I love.
I run because we run and runs run between us.
WHY I RUN N°2
By Maria Tuberville
Because it hurts, and pain reminds me that I'm human.
To be in the mountains, amongst the trees and calling birds. To worship. Mother Nature is my savior.
To stay off anxiety medications.
To prove to my daughters that they can do anything they choose to do, if they work hard.
To prove to myself that I am worthy. And strong. And brave.
Because this is not the hardest thing I've done. Giving up is not an option.
Because the bad runs mean the good ones are coming.
To erase the choices of yesterday. To start today new.
Because this is how I love myself. This is how I love the world around me, even as it is falling apart.
Because breathing is a gift. These legs are a gift. Don't waste a gift.
To feel all the emotion. And to bury all the emotion.
To finish what I started. And to start something new.
Because today I can, but someday I may not be able to.
WHY I RUN N°3
By Tim Snow
Of Blisters And Bandaids
Using words to describe why I run seems futile. The love of running can only be experienced while running.
You wake up at 4am, cross the US/Canada border on your three hour drive to the Green Mountains of Vermont (explaining to the US Customs agents that the bag of white powder in your pack really is Tailwind) only to get to the trailhead and find that the parking lot is full. On a Tuesday morning.
You get out of your car and half-heartedly stretch. You are stiff from the drive. You start hiking uphill. Break into a slow run and within minutes you’re gasping for air...and decide that power-hiking is the way to go. I mean if the elites power-hike why not right?
The angle steepens as you put your hands on your knees and even scramble. You’re starting to reap the rewards as the trees start thinning out and the views become more majestic. You grab a rock for leverage and it wobbles leading your mind to momentarily wonder if you remembered to pack your pocket knife. You then have the thought you have a few times on every longer run; Why am I here? It’s cold and wet and early and your bed is oh so warm.
And just as that thought begins to play with your mind, you push harder! Your legs ache as your heart fills; you see the summit! You run harder, more deliberate and determined, it’s a small mountain but you run like you’re dancing through the San Juans or Dolomites, you’re there, you’re at the...false summit! Damn, it gets you every time.
Ok, get it together you tell yourself. You’re almost there. Under a mile and less than a thousand feet to climb. You’re almost out of water, almost out of calories. You fill up at a stream and hope that you’re home before you find out if the water was contaminated or not.
You hit the home stretch. You’re running like a mountain lion, albeit less coordinated.
And like that, you feel it. The accomplishment, the amazement, the feeling of absolute joy and love and oh crap what’s that pain in my knee?
You gulp down some M&Ms and start downhill with reckless abandon. It is effortless and as you feel the unmistakable joy of going fast under your own power and then you do it! You live your childhood dream of flying! You’re soaring through the air like a hydration pack wearing falcon!
Because you didn’t see that damn root that you caught your toe on.
You pick yourself up quickly hoping that no one saw your involuntary imitation of a flying squirrel who just left a 15-foot long gouge in the trail. No harm no foul.
You cautiously pick up the speed again, ignoring your tender quads and blistered feet. You love that you’re covered in sweat and mud and rocks and blood and have a head and heart filled with inspiration and passion and you’re yipping and yahooing and you feel it again; some say flow, some say inner peace, some say love.
Love for nature. Love that our bodies will let us go on useless to everyone but us runs. Love for our partners, kids, friends, families. The trails help us appreciate the important things in life, they help us sort through mental health distress while keeping our physical health in check.
Who cares how long it took. Or that we have to return to work the next day. Or that it’s dark and you have a 3-hour drive home. For those few hours, whether solo or with a group of friends, we are where we belong.