Editor’s note: Running and Beyond is a column written by Kenosha Running Company president Brian Thomas that focuses on all things running in Kenosha County. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com.
So many of us reflect upon our past and imagine our future this time of year.
It can take several steps, however, to begin to realize the future we have imagined. Keeping this in mind, I reached out to my friends and asked a simple question: Why do you run?
I know they are just like you, and perhaps you will be inspired to start running or just resume your running and active lifestyle in 2020. Thank you to those that contributed to this column, and if you would like a little guidance in achieving a running way of life, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
Allison L.“I just turned 50 in September, and I recalled what most of my friends were telling me about this half-century age mark. ‘It only goes downhill from here.’ ‘Your body will start making all kinds of weird changes.’ ‘You’ll start getting flab where you didn’t think possible.’ Uh, heck no, I said. I will fight into my 50s and beyond. I will keep going. I will not play into this role of getting old. In fact, trail races are exactly the ‘throw it in their face’ challenge that I need to show them, to show anyone (that) acquiring years on the body does by no means make you OLD. In fact, thinking back over eight years ago, long-distance running wasn’t even in my vocabulary. I always thought it would be cool to run a marathon, heard others talking about it, but never minded it after that.
“That is until my friend Craig, who was turning 58 and had survived cancer, told me he was running the Disney World Marathon. Then a few short years later, I moved from Virginia to Florida, and Craig came back into my mind. All those excuses I had so many years ago — too cold, too hilly — were now gone. So, thinking of Craig, I realized I had no more excuses — and he did it at the age of 58 and a cancer survivor, (so) surely I can, too.
“So I did. I ran my first ever marathon at Disney World in 2013, and as of today have completed 18 full marathons (and) over 30 half marathons.”
Kevin E.“I first started running because I wanted to do something to lose weight and help with my high cholesterol levels without having to use medicine. We moved into a house where the bike trail was basically in our backyard, so I thought I would give running a try. It started with a short goal of running a 5K in under 30 minutes.
“While I was training, I noticed how much better I felt, not only when running, but in my everyday life. I had more energy throughout the day and I was just happier. I lost weight and I just kept raising my goals. I started with a 10K, then a half marathon, and eventually running a full marathon.
“When people ask why I like running, I tell them I love the time by myself, just listening to music with no worries for 20 minutes to a couple of hours. There are not many times in life we get that time to just be with our own thoughts for a long period of time with all of the madness that goes on in life. It has almost become an addiction, because when I miss a day, I really feel it.
“Of course, there are much worse things being addicted to than taking care of my mind and body!”
Joe J.“I started my journey in January 2019, because I was tired of being sick. I am a Type 2 diabetic with neuropathy and had been on many pills to combat both. I took up running and I would run sporadically.
“Then in May, I was on Facebook and saw the Kenosha Running Club, signed up to be a member and started running with them on Saturdays.
“Running is now as important to me as breathing. (I) have run in many races and (am) currently training for my first half marathon. My health has steadily improved. I am a non-diabetic, and while I can never get rid of my neuropathy, it is under control.”
Dominic R.“I run to clear my head. Running slows down the aging process (and) you meet a lot of great people.
“Yes, you train your mind, and your body will follow.”
Lauren W.“I sit in a desk all day long, staring at a computer screen and exhausting my brain, so running provides a little window of time for me to shut my mind down and just be in my body. While this release has allowed me to reap all the benefits of being physically fit, the rewards have ended up more mental than physical.
“Unless you run races, running is inherently a one-on-one challenge, your only competitor being yourself and your limits. Combined with medication and cognitive therapy, this character-building component of running (and not to mention the flood of endorphins) has all but toppled my depression and anxiety.”
William B.“As a non-commissioned officer (NCO) in the U.S. Army Reserve, it is a requirement that I run. Not only do soldiers have to run for physical training but also to pass a physical training test every six months. An age-scaled 2-mile timed run is the event that most soldiers fail, which can be detrimental to an Army career.
“As a soldier, God and country motivated me to take running seriously. At 32 years of age I joined the military, and I never worked out prior to this uphill climb. I appreciate the drill sergeants and battle buddies who helped me become a better runner through demanding work and group runs.
“Many years later, after returning home from Afghanistan, I did not like running but still did it because it was my duty. Thankfully, my cousin Michelle and her husband Tom L. introduced me to Tough Mudder. The challenging event gave me a sense of teamwork and camaraderie that I needed. After doing a couple Tough Mudders and other races like Ragnar, North Face and Hot Hilly Hairy, I started to fall in love with running and the community.
“I now run daily and have joined Team RWB, which only builds upon my relationship to the running community.”
James G.“For me, running started as a way to show school pride. When Rutgers joined the Big Ten Conference prior to the 2014 season, I received an alumni e-mail that included information about the Big Ten 10K/5K race. Even though I hadn’t run anything longer than quarter-mile sprints since high school, I still decided to give it a go.
“While there were some struggles during the race, we made it through. And that first race snowballed from a single 5K into multiple 5Ks and into much longer running races.
“At the Shamrock Shuffle 8K the following spring, I was introduced to the executive director of Dare2Tri. This opened a whole new realm of opportunities for me that I was previously unaware of. Since that time, I have done almost 50 triathlons of different distances with many different guides.
“So at this point, I run for two main reasons. One is because I need to and desire to continue moving forward in the triathlon world.
“The other is for beer. Simply put, there have been some races where I have hit a mental wall. Thinking only a little bit longer until I can have a cold beer has helped me to push through it!”
Kim K.“Why do you run? This question did not seem so profound until I started thinking about it. I run because it makes me strong. It tests my body and mind like nothing I have ever tried before. I do not want to confuse anyone. I am not some athletic Adonis. I am the average relatively healthy, wife, mom of three, full-time nurse and graduate student at age 40.
“The point (is), anyone can run and find JOY. I find that the word joy sums it up. Running has brought me friends that are like my family. It has also brought me adventures I would have never taken. If you have not gotten up at 4 a.m. to run down by the lake and take in that sunrise, you could be missing joy. Take a moment to breath in the fresh air and the friendships you make.
“Your body and mind will thank you. It is my stress relief and my place to build self-confidence and self-worth.
“Sometimes life gets in the way of running, but running is the friend that quietly waits for you to come back, and back I will always be.”
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