The Olympics have begun! Do they inspire you to get up and move, hit the gym, maybe even run a marathon? I think this article hits on many of our Olympic fantasies - I know I love to relive my rowing days every four years when the Olympics roll around. I wish I could stay home all day and watch beach volleyball, water polo, swimming and diving. I can't get enough of the facts, stats, and personal stories that make the games so unique. You can test your Olympics IQ with this quiz about the health of Olympic athletes.
While watching the Olympics definitely inspires me, I am still desperately trying to keep up my running in this summer heat, through the chaos of our move, and with a very busy work schedule. I decided it might help if I wrote down some reasons why I like to run. Here they are.
I run to connect with my family. I ran my first 5K when I was 10 and I grew up watching my parents run road races in the running boom of the early 80s. I remember seeing my Mom and Dad after races wearing a mylar blanket and a medal – bigger than life heroes in shiny capes. As a teenager, I learned the fundamentals of running from my Dad and I can still hear his voice in my head on a tough run, “relax your arms, put your head down going uphill, use the downhill to pick up speed.” We learned to communicate during our runs, sometimes silently, in a way that we maintain today. We ran together on my wedding day.
I run to clear my head. If I want to work through a problem, or if I want to escape my thoughts and not think at all, I go for a run. Running gets me out of a bad mood and reminds me that anything is possible. Some people get new ideas in the shower – I get mine while pounding the pavement.
I run to explore new places. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t travel with my running shoes. I’ve run through a wild boar park in Austria, got lost running in a city park in Munich, and ran at midnight in Egypt to avoid the heat. My fondest memories of living in Florence, Italy, are my early morning runs. Running at that time of day was like peering through a private world only the locals see – shopkeepers sweeping their front sidewalks, delivery trucks dropping off fresh produce, and the sun rising slowly over the Tuscan hills. Running made me feel like I belonged in an otherwise foreign place.
I run to set an example for my children. I want them to know an active lifestyle and not even remember the first time they saw me run a race, or come home sweaty from a morning run. I want my daughter to have a positive body image and to know what a healthy and fit body looks like.
I run to push my limits. Ten years ago I ran to achieve PRs with track workouts, hill repeats and two runs a day. These days most of my runs are done behind a double stroller. But whether I’m striving for a new PR or just trying to run up a big hill pushing the stroller, running reminds me that my body is strong and capable. Running reminds me of what I can do when I set my mind to something, and running gives me the confidence to take on challenges in other aspects of my life.
I run for solitude, and I run for conversation and camaraderie. I run with a running group, with my dog, my husband, my best friend and with my children. No matter what form it takes - running is my constant, my home base, and where I go to find myself. I run to feel most like myself.
Do Olympic athletes inspire you, or make you feel like a total couch potato? What are your favorite events to watch? Find more exercise inspiration here.