Running sucks! - at least that is what probably went through my mind when I started running on a regular basis after a life of playing football. It was 2011 and I had just started University in Gothenburg. My time was limited and I had to find something to keep myself in relatively good shape. I tried a few sports, looking to find a new hobby but everywhere I went I felt like an outsider coming in at the age of 21 where others had been playingor practising for many years.
Eventually, I figured that I at least could start going to the gym regularly just to stay fit. As a footballer, I knew I had to keep up my cardio levels as well so before each gym session, I ran for 20 minutes. Running became a habit and eventually, my neighbours became used to seeing me running in and out of the building for my 20 minute runs every day in any weather. Looking back it is hard to remember what kept me going but slowly but surely I began to not hate running. It was just a part of everyday life. Please note, we are still miles away from anywhere near the term “enjoying” or “liking” running. I was still looking for my thing.
For two years this went on. I was doing my daily run around Gothenburg and going to the gym almost every day not quite finding what I was looking for.
Finally, in last a desperate attempt to find a sport in which I could fully engage in and funnel my energy into I found a local running club - I mean, if I could do nothing else, at least I know I can run and in a club with 400 members I could not possibly be the worst nor could anyone tell me that I was doing it wrong.
Without any expectations, I found myself in a group mixed with people my own age as well as my parents’ age...and my grandparents’. I remember it as it was yesterday and during that first training with the group - the “4:30” group - I found what I was looking for. From that day I have always tried to reach the next person in front of me. Never had any doubts that it could bedone - if they can do it, I sure can.
When I first started off 2011 I had never run 10k in under 45mins. Neither completed a half marathon nor a full marathon not having any thoughts on ever doing it. To be fair I still have not run a marathon but I like to think of it as a choice rather than notbeing able.
In less than a year with the running club, I improved my time on 21k with 13 minutes going from 1:34 in 2014 to 1:21 in 2016. Mytime on 10k went from God knows where to 35:59 in that same year. - I loved it. The sense of belonging. The sparring with the other members of the group and all the amazing people who run for alldifferent reasons.
So why do I run? Instant gratification is my thing. I will notlie. I love racing and I love beating my fellow runners and getting that kick that comes after a great mad training session falling down in the grass alongside your fellow runners gasping for air. I love scouting new trails and the sweat pouring down from my forehead. I love the last 20 seconds of a race, no matter the distance - not saying whether or not I actually hate the rest of it. But more importantly, I also love the mentality runners have as no one I have met would ever wish something bad upon anyone challenging you just out of sheer jealousy. True runners are the best of people. They would want to make you better to give themselves the chance of improving. In running you get exactly what you give, there is no such thing as luck, and I would always cherish the challenge of trying to beat someone challenging you.
Currently, I run with some of the best runners in Sweden, still pushing myself to reach new goals looking towards sub 35 minuteson 10k and 1:17 on 21k before putting all my efforts into running ultra trail. I run 100-110k a week and I promise you, I never enjoy every moment of every run. I probably resent running just asmuch as I love it and sometimes I wonder why anyone would expose oneself to this kind of mental and physical trauma every otherday. Yet I would never regret a single session nor ever think about cancelling a session due to lack of motivation.
I cannot tell you why you should start or keep running. But at the very least I hope that you find yourselves curious about why we do what we do as well as why we love it for all different reasons - you will find your reasons too.