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Why I Run (a Mom’s Perspective) … and Why I Want You to Join Me (Maybe!)

~ Here at THK, we typically focus on just one aspect of healthy living – deliciously great nutrition. But when we polled our readers a few months ago, they were interested in expanding to some other related topics, too. So today, I’m dishing up a little inspiration to kick-start our summer fitness goals. Wanna join me? ~

Shoes and Leash vert

It’s June 1, and I need a little inspiration. Thought maybe you could use a little, too.

June 1 marks the kick-off of our family’s summer fitness program.

As an incoming freshman on the cross-country team, (no idea how my kids can be high schoolers already, but that’s a story for a different day), Amy’s summer challenge is to run 150 miles between June 1 and July 31. And if you think that sounds like a lot (’cause I sure do!), a fun little sidenote is that all the older girls on the team aren’t assigned 150 miles … they’re asked to run 200! *GASP*

Amy in Uniform

As Amy outlined her training program and set her goals for these next 61 days, Scott and I agreed to do the same. To support her … and to push ourselves. He’s trying for the whole enchilada 150 miles right along with her. Please don’t think I’m wimping out … but being honest with myself, I’m committing to just 100.

Still, 100 miles in 61 days. For me, that’s a serious undertaking!

Yes … I need inspiration! A really, really big kick in the pants. So I’m putting all of this out there for you … because once I’ve done that, it’ll be much harder not to follow through. I’d have to admit to all of you that I didn’t do it.

Plus, I thought maybe you guys could use a little inspiration, too. Or at least, a moment to think about your own inspiration. Running might not be your thing (read on … it isn’t mine either!), and your own reasons might be different from mine, but none of that matters. What matters is that you make a choice to make an improvement, to get healthier this summer and that you find reasons that motivate you.

So here are: All the Reasons That I Will Run 100 Miles by July 31 (aka: Why I Run)

#1 For Me (Actually Not a Real Reason)

I know, I know. I’m supposed to say that I run because it makes me feel so great. (It does.) And because it burns calories, builds muscle, amps up my metabolism, and is great for cardiovascular health. (It does those things, too.) I’m supposed to say that I run for me … for all those great, healthful reasons.

But really, that’s not why. I’ve been a lot of things in my life, and a runner really isn’t one of them.

Family at Marathon

In high school, I played soccer (badly), ran track (even more badly … should’ve been my hint I’m not a runner), and danced with the marching band’s drill team. In college I was a cheerleader. I’ve done Jazzercise and kickboxing and step aerobics. I’ve even done slide aerobics. (Showing my age here … does anyone else remember the short-lived glory of slide aerobics?!?!) Water aerobics. Free weights at muscle-head gyms. Power walking, biking and hiking and even a little white-water rafting. Different things in different phases of my life.

But you know what is probably my least favorite of all? Running.

Yeah … I should’ve taken the hint back in high school, when my track coach amiably moved me around to whatever event would allow me to do the least damage to my team’s standing.

I’ll straight-up admit that I probably won’t always run this much. Honestly, I sure hope I don’t! But I’ll be doing something. I’d love to get back to dance aerobics and weight lifting. Or who knows … maybe I’ll invent some new cooking sport that’s just perfect for me. Full-contact baking, anyone? Competitive onion chopping? Whatever it ends up being, thanks to these years of running, I’ll be fit enough to handle what’s next.

So, yeah I exercise for me. But running? Uh-uh. That’s not so much about me as it is about other people, other things. Things that are so important that they make me want to go run even though I don’t really like to.

Three at Marathon

Things that are the real reasons I run.

#2 For My Daughter (Definitely a Real Reason)

When Amy was in third grade, she became a runner. It completely and utterly surprised us all.


She joined the local youth running club, and she never looked back. She found herself in ways we never would have expected, and through sore muscles, driving rain, and freezing cold … she loved, loved, loved running.

Tiny Amy at Optimist

So there we were. Parents who’d never considered ourselves runners (Scott had his own less-than-stellar high school track experience), with a daughter who was, without question, a runner. And we couldn’t just send little third-grade Amy out the door to run a few miles by herself. (*Harrumph*)

So we ran, too.

And I’m incredibly glad we did. Not only has running shaped who Amy is her hard work, perseverance, self confidence but it’s helped define who we are as a family, too. One more activity to bond around, to share together. Amy gave that to us. And so, I run for her.

Even though “running together” has been virtually meaningless for years now, because she runs so much faster than I could even hope to, we still like to run “together” (meaning that we head out the door at the same time, and we pass each other as we loop ’round the neighborhood).


Honestly, for all of the reasons why I run, it actually comes back to this one reason that started it all off I run for Amy.

#3 For My Son (Also a Real Reason)

My husband and I talk to our kids all the time about making good choices healthy choices, responsible choices. We talk about it, and we try to model it. I want them to see that sometimes I do things I don’t really like to do because they’re the right things. I want them to know that it’s ok to struggle, and that it’s really, really ok to do things you’re not particularly good at. I want my kids to see me try hard. I want them to watch me set goals … and work hard to achieve them.

Last summer, when Amy and Scott set a goal to train for a half marathon by summer’s end, Ty and I set a more moderate goal to complete that day’s 10k. We did it. He crushed my time and finished second in the Men’s 19 and Under Division. And me? I finished. Goal achieved.

Ty with Medal

Even though Ty is focused on soccer and lacrosse, he runs with our family, too. And he’s good at it, even though he doesn’t really want to be. Besides finishing that 10k, he’s run with the youth team at Nationals two years in a row now, and he’s had a high school coach approach him in an attempt to lure him away from soccer and into the netherworld of cross-country.

Running has opened up an opportunity, whether he chooses to take it right now or not. Running is a life sport, a fall-back, a fitness regimen he can take with him practically anywhere. I want my son to have that, and to tuck little lessons about struggle and hard work and possibilities somewhere in the back of his mind … for one day when he’ll need them.

#4 For My Dog (So, So Real)

I own a Jack Russell/Rat Terrier rescue named Finn. The operative part of that equation is Jack Russell. You probably know that Jacks = energy. LOTS of energy. I run for Finn … for his sanity (and, therefore, my own). I run because it makes him happy and keeps him healthy, and because sometimes walking a mile or two just isn’t really enough and he truly needs to bust out an exhausting 5k.

Finny in Woods

On so many days, when I really don’t want to go for a run at all, I look in his eager little face … and I run.

#5 Because It’s Outside

We own a treadmill we hardly use. An elliptical, too. When I run, it’s usually outside. I love outside, and running is an excuse to be there. To breathe fresh air, feel vitamin D-filled sunshine on my face, and recalibrate my mental attitude in the way that only nature, and being outdoors, can. It’s a mental break from my computer, from the laundry pile, from my grocery list.

Kids Outside

Need an attitude adjustment? (Because sometimes I sure do!) Well, few things will fix you up faster than some exercise in the fresh air.

#6 Because I Can

Somewhere, long ago, on some other blog that I no longer remember, I read a young woman’s list of why she runs. Mostly, I doubt that it had much relation to my own list of reasons, but this one point stuck with me, and I’ve made it my own.

I run because I can.

Because I’m healthy enough and young enough and fit enough, and because my neighborhood is safe enough.

I remember last summer, when my family and I were out for a trail run I passed an elderly gentleman with a walker and an oxygen tank, making his way slowly along the trail toward me. We grinned at each other, both happy to be out on such a beautiful day. And I thought … because I can. My trail buddy there couldn’t. He could simply shuffle along, a few meters from the parking lot. Someday, that could be me. But right now, I have strong lungs, and I can.

I think the same thing sometimes when I pass by one of my neighbors. He’s missing the bottom half of one of his legs, yet he rides bikes with his kids and uses a push mower to mow his hilly, steep yard. I see that, and think that if he can manage all that he does, then surely I can embrace what I can do.

And I think, too, of women in countries where it’s not safe to be out, where bombs fall or they’re required to have male chaperones to leave their homes. They can’t simply decide to go out for a run in the fresh air and sunlight. So, shame on me if I don’t remember to embrace what they cannot … because I can.

Two Shoes

Because I can.

Sometimes, some days, running feels just a tiny bit like torture. But it’s also sort of a privilege and not one that everyone has. And so, I sigh … pick up Finny’s leash … and head out the door. Because I can.

What Are Your Reasons? (And Why “Maybe”?)

So, after telling you all the reasons that I run, you might be scratching your head just a little over the title of this post … wondering how you can join me … and why the title of this post says that I want you to join me maybe.

Well, lots of people make New Year’s resolutions involving fitness. And by this point in the year, most people have also completely neglected and utterly forgotten them. I personally think that this is actually a much better time of year for fitness resolutions. Schedules tend to be a little calmer, the weather (at least here in Ohio) tends to be better … and so there are simply more options and opportunities. It’s easier to exercise when you don’t have to tuck yourself into a snowsuit and galoshes to get out there and do it.

I really want you to join me. Now. This summer. Join me in choosing something anything that appeals to you. Any one little thing that makes you even a tiny bit more active, more healthy, more fit. Check in with your doc first if you need to, but don’t make excuses. Do something, anything.

That’s how you can join me!

You don’t have to commit to running 100 miles in the next two months. And goodness knows, I’m not entirely sure that I’ll succeed! Just commit to doing something.

That’s why I say “maybe”! Because I don’t want you to think that your something has to be running. Remember … it can be anything!

Find your reasons, your inspiration. And then go do this!

I’m not 100% excited about those 100 miles, but I’m definitely excited to hear why you do what you do … so leave us a comment and let’s support each other this summer!

Finny in Driveway

And now … I’d better go get Finny and find those running shoes …


  1. Why do I run? It’s a way for me to get outside, get into my own thoughts and get the exercise I need. I run to train for races; it’s a way of setting goals. I don’t love to run, I don’t hate to run, some days I super don’t like to run and most days I would really like to get all that cardio by sitting on my back deck reading a book, so I would say I like to run. I like the after effects of it. It is goal setting; I know I can do a 5k so let’s try at 10. I know I can do a 10 so I’ll run a half (also I knew my sister had done a half so if she could do it, I totally could), and now I signed up for what I never thought I would do….. I know that when I am running I can break it down into smaller goals I know I can meet (I can do another mile, its just another mile). I also run because I’m competitive (see notes about sister above) and while I know I will never be able to beat my niece, (or nephew for that matter), at least I can say I went out there and did it. Finally, I run for comradery. Runners are a team; it’s an individual action, but by no means an individual sport. Those that have finished always stay and cheer those that are running. Those that can’t, stand by the sidelines and shout words of encouragement as we run, or walk, or sometimes limp past the love and support of other runners is overwhelming sometimes. I love the feeling of the end of a race, the gathering of a crowd of people who have all done the same thing, getting out there and just doing it. I do it for me, I do it for the team, I do it because I can.

    1. Hey, Mis! I know we texted right away about this fantastic comment you left and how much it meant to me, but I ended up deciding not to respond right away, for a couple of reasons.

      For one thing: I decided you should be the first to know (even before Scott!) … I did it! Surpassed my 100-mile goal this morning, with a beautiful, early-morning trail run as the sun slanted low through the trees and a legion of geese swam placidly through the mist still clinging to the lake. Poetic. The perfect run to celebrate achieving a goal!

      And also because: I wanted you to know how much your comment stayed with me, all through these last few weeks, specifically the parts about goal setting and competing. That ran through my head again and again. You know how competitive I am – and particularly when it comes to competing with myself. You are SO right about setting a goal … and then pushing to knock it down and set a new, harder one … and competing with yourself to do something you never thought you would. So many times I ran farther than I set out to … setting a little goal at the start of the run, and then pushing the bar a bit higher and then a little bit higher yet, until I finished the run, proud of myself for doing more than I’d planned. I realized how true your words are for me – and how much I probably should add a reason #7 to my post above … #7 – To Set Goals and Compete Against Yourself to Achieve (and Surpass) Them!

      The beauty of it all is how quickly you progress, how soon you realize that you can run farther, faster … and that it hurts a little bit less. That feeling of accomplishment is incredibly rewarding!

      So, one goal down today. Thanks for being in my head through it all! And now … on to the next goal! The little voice in my head is already whispering to me about what it should be.

      But first, let’s talk about YOUR next goal … you can do this! You’ve got it!!! You go, girl! I can’t wait for to achieve it!!

      xoxoxo ~Shelley

  2. Great post, Shelley. I can’t run because of my artificial knee, but I get my 10,000 steps a day and play tennis four times a week. And I feel great! I have a wonderful family and friends and a bunch of hobbies. What more could a 70 year old ask for?

    1. Seriously – you inspire me. I know few people who laugh as freely, worry less, stay active more, do more absolutely cool stuff, and embrace life so fully. Given all that, it truly means so much to me that you enjoyed this post – thank you for such a lovely comment! 🙂 ~Shelley

  3. Hello, my dear!! I love this … and I’ve honestly been thinking about all the reasons I run this week since my girlie has started field hockey conditioning – and that means I’m tagging along for those early morning runs! Truly, I despise running. Well, the act of running. When I’m actually running, I’m not a fan. BUT I feel SO darn good after a run that I lace up my sneakers every morning! Plus I feel like I’m happier – those endorphins course through my body all day! Like you, I CAN run … and so I’ll continue running.
    But my real reasons for running are my kids. Losing my mom at a young age makes me want to be strong and healthy so I can be there for them. For a long time. I don’t know what the future holds and I can’t control what happens to me, but I can be in control of how I respond. And being healthy just gives me a little advantage.
    So with every step I just try to remember that I’m getting fit and strong and better so I can hopefully be my best! 🙂

    1. Oh, Gretchen, thank you so much for this sweet, sweet comment. I was so touched! I know you and I feel kind of the same way about running – such a love-hate thing, huh? Isn’t it funny the things we put ourselves through for our kids, that we’d never do otherwise? I have to believe that your mom is outrageously proud of you. She raised an amazing daughter who turned into an uber-amazing mom! I wish I could have known her … and thanked her for also raising someone who is, on top of everything else, an amazing friend. ~S

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