Digging Deep

Finding motivation on those cold winter days.

My eyes weren’t even open yet and I felt a pounding in my skull and a tongue on my face. I slowly woke from a deep slumber and realized the pounding was a result of the previous late night, and, luckily, the tongue belonged to my dog. I was only two weeks into my New Year’s resolution to train for the Bridger Ridge Run, and I pulled the sheet back up over my head and rolled over. 

“Get up!” my boyfriend yelled, tearing the comforter off me. I had made him agree to be responsible for getting me out of the house, especially on days when I didn’t want to leave the bed. Today was one of those days. “You’re supposed to be running,” he said with an evil smirk. I crawled out of bed, slugged around the house, and an hour later had only made it as far as the couch. 

How did everyone else do it? That woman down the street in fancy spandex, the high school kid with no shirt... what gets them up and out when it's ten degrees in the sun? I picked up the phone and started harassing fellow runners with one simple question: “Why do you run?” The replies were not only motivational, but also moving, and exactly what I needed that morning as I popped more ibuprofen.

Why Do You Run?

Chad Zeitner – Electrical Engineer, Morrison Maierle, Owner of Montucky Cold Snacks

A while back I read the book Born to Run. I decided to give the minimalist running fad a try, thinking it's what we evolved to do, right? But it became more than that; running just made sense. I get an enjoyment that's difficult to explain, but feels right. Running lets me be in the moment. It gives me time to turn everything off and enjoy what’s in front of me. It’s a simple way to be who I am and connect with my surroundings. Plus, I feel great afterwards.

Blair Speed – Volunteer and Education Coordinator, Museum of The Rockies

I run because I have to. I like the push, the fight, the pain. I'm also interested to see what's out there, and running provides that opportunity: I get to climb mountains, run under aspens, check out a new city when I'm visiting, or take a loop around the neighborhood. Meanwhile, I'm meeting an eclectic group of people, gabbing with new and old girlfriends, and learning from everyone from beginning runners to the elite. Besides the environment and friendships, running provides an opportunity to explore all the different aspects of myself. Most importantly, no matter what transition or challenge I'm facing, I've always had running. Whether it's wading through the middle-school social hierarchy, college classes, first jobs, second jobs, boyfriends, self-doubt, or just looking for a new goal to work toward, running has always been right there, just waiting for me to put my sneakers back on. It's an old friend I can always turn to.

Kristi Gaines – First-Grade Teacher, Hawthorne Elementary School

I run because it fixes me physically and mentally. It's how I find balance in my life. It makes me a better mom, wife, friend, and teacher because my perspective on life is so much healthier. It's the one magic pill out there that creates time. By giving up an hour of my day to running, I get more time back. That hour gives me a chance to rethink, reorganize, and rejuvenate. I am more productive and proactive the days I run. Running has also helped me to build healthy relationships with healthy friends, like Bozeman Running Company’s running group on Wednesdays. And the days I need some time to myself, running can be the one way to get away from it all. Running can be done solo or socially; it doesn't take an expensive gym membership or a closet full of equipment (although my husband argues that my overflowing sock drawer rivals anyone's collection of sports equipment). I didn't learn I was a runner until my early 30s, and though it might sound dramatic, in ways I feel like running has saved my life!

As I sat on the couch waiting for the headache medicine to kick in, I thought about the different reasons people ran. And then I asked myself the very same question: Why do I run? I’m not on a diet or training for another sport. I’m not planning on winning any medals. Why the hell am I putting myself through this pain? 

I held my running shoes and thought of all the places they'd taken me: the streets and trails, the neighborhoods, the narrow canyons and open fields. And slowly, I started to remember. Despite the freezing temperatures, dark days, and slippery conditions, deep down inside there was a part of me that craved it: the pain, the hard work, the act of simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Mind over matter! I laced up my shoes and headed out the door. It was eight degrees and the sidewalks were iced over, but there was a pleasant stillness to the air that seemed to hold only the sound of my feet hitting the pavement. A sense of serenity and empowerment washed over me. My headache slipped away as the cool Montana air filled my lungs. I glanced up at the mountains and felt an inner calm, a renewed sense of purpose. I felt alive. And as I glided across Bozeman's snowy streets, I thought, this is it: this is why I run.

Comment below and tell us: Why do you run? 

This is part two of a series about training for, and (hopefully) running the Bridger Ridge Run, by Jenny Sheets. See part one here.

Read more about running—from gear to fitness to trails—at outsidebozeman.com/activities/running.