Friday, May 6, 2011

Why We Run

There are many reasons to run.  Some people even claim it's part of our DNA...we were designed to run and need to run to remain human.  To some degree, I believe that we were "born to run."  I'm thinking about the individual reasons why we run.  Any of these ring true for you?

Social Runner.  This person runs to meet fellow runners.  They want to chat, eat, and drink with others.  In general, they aren't trying to run the fastest, or the slowest, just enough to hang with friends...and make a few more friends.  They'll seek out group and club runs each week.  Solo runs aren't their forte.  Drinking beer might be.

Competitive Runner. They want to be fast...or at least faster than you!  And faster than they were last week or at their last race.  Personal records are important.  They track their PRs and try to lower them whenever they can.  They'll be on training programs to improve their racing times.  They'll hop on the track to run intervals.  They'll run with a push the pace.  They'll run alone to test themselves.

Healthy Runner.  This person wants to be "fit."  They run to stay in shape, keep the weight off, keep the cholesterol levels in check.  They run to reduce stress.  Maybe they are running to be healthy and fit for another sport.  They might race a few times, but running is not their life.  If you are running to be healthy, you probably aren't running long distances or fast paces.  Moderation is the key.

Weight Loss Runner.  This person wants to lose weight and keep it off.  Running burns a ton of calories and can pump up our metabolism.  These people will likely run at a slow to moderate "fat burning" pace.  Weight lose can be a social thing too so these folks may find others wishing to lose weight and run together. 

Barefoot Runner.  Do people actually run barefoot?  Yep.  They think mankind was born to run this way.  We evolved to run...with our own bare feet!  While I'm heading in this direction, I'm not "one of them" yet. When I've met them (or read about them), they are pretty "down to earth" and friendly folks. Sometimes a bit too spiritual for me, but really nice.

Ultrarunner.  Do I need to cover this freak?  I'm one.  Enough said. Barefoot ultrarunner?  Come on, that's impossible!  Right???

Of course, you can be more than one kind of runner.  In some sense, I'm all of the above.  We all have different needs and running can satisfy many of them.  The main reason I'm posting this is to remind you, and me, that we run for various reasons and we should keep those reasons in mind.  You'll be happier, and a more successful runner, if you think about WHY you run and then try to arrange your runs to meet those needs.

If you enjoy the social side of running, then make sure you connect with other runners every single week.  Join a runnign club, do their fun runs, find a low-key 5K and race it...then meet new runners at the start and finish line.  Hang out and socialize.  You'll be happier.

If you are competitive, then dedicate yourself to an improvement plan.  Pick a race and train for it.  You'll be fitter and faster and happier if you are training and running faster. 

If you want to lose weight, then run easy every day.  Keep yourself in the aerobic fat-burning zone.  Add a few minutes to your runs so you burn more calories.'s all good...but some running is better than others...because it makes you happier.  Find your niche. So, why do you run?  Are you one of them ultrarunners?


Peter said...

I don't know if you have meant to cover it in some of the abive categories, but I missed Fun Runner. I would put myself in this category. Enjoying movement, endorphin, liberty, nature, the opportunity for contemplation, tiredness, a shower after, some nice food after, a walk after, etc. Somehow I just feel that in all details it is very much fit to make us happy, therfore I tend to believe that we are born to run.
BTW, I started to read your blog a few weeks ago. Very nice one. Keep up. Cheers, Peter (from Hungary)

Chris said...


You are runner is probably distinct from "social" runner--which is where I sort of put them in my mind. I would hope everyone has fun running, but that's not always the case...even for me. It's not too fun to run really hard up a hill, but for training I'll do it!

I was going to add categories for trail runner, road runner, track runner...but those are subsets of the other groups.

Glad you enjoy my blog. Keep reading and commenting.

jeff said...

what about an additve runner??
one who runs when tired, when hurt, evens runs on a treadmill!!. one who runs too much, who runs in pain, but loves almost every minute, border line crazy, who wants to run everyday, but maybe does not, would even if it hurt him and made him sicker...this runner is all of the above and more, sometimes too much more, but loves it, reads it, writes out training plans over and over, does not have to race but wants to sometimes, who's life is not complete without it, who knows the great feeling after a great run is the greatest thing in the world that one person can do...that's why some of us run.

jeff said...

that is an "addictive" runner

Chris said...


You need help. Yes, you are addicted to running.

Janice said...

In the past year-and-a-half I have become one of those crazy barefoot folks. This followed knee surgery & a doctor telling me never to run again. I read Born to Run, bought some Vibrams, worked up to going barefoot and now hate running in any shoe! There is something awesome about running in bare feet and it just keeps getting better.

Next, I want to be an ultra distance barefoot trail runner. Evolution. It just keeps happening.

Ben S said...

Someone once motivated me to begin a running streak. Now I run everyday to add another day to my streak. I suppose that makes me an additive runner too.

BTW Janice - I totaly agree. I ran a 5k this morning in my Fivefingers, then took them off and ran some more. It was great!

Chris said...

Janice and Ben,

You are both awesome! Keep it up.

Vanessa said...

You forgot trail runner! I'm on my way towards barefoot ultra trail runner. Not sure it gets any crazier than that. Great post!

Chris said...


Yep, we can sub-divide runners into preferred surfaces too--trail, road, track, treadmill. I'm a trail guy.