Why I Run

Posted June 12, 2014 by Carolyn Stroud in Life After Five
Running has become an increasingly popular pastime. And for good reason! It’s an incredibly accessible sport with very few barriers to entry. Strap on a pair of sneakers and off you go! Marathons are selling out at record rates and it seems like every weekend there’s a new crop of themed 5K’s, whether it’s for charity or just for fun.

I took up running just over 6 years ago because it was what all the cool kids were doing. I was bored with my workout routine and wanted something to talk about with my boss. What I quickly learned is that running is more than an individual activity. It is a community of people, of all different shapes, sizes, ethnicity and background who come together to support and motivate each other (and occasionally compete). Everyone has a different motivation, but we’re all in it together.

But that’s not all that has kept me running for the better part of a decade. Truth be told, my motivation varies from day to day. Sometimes I feel the need to get outside because I’ve been cooped up in my office for too long, and sometimes I drag myself to the treadmill because I fear what race day will feel like if I don’t do it.

But most importantly, running helps to keep me sane. Training for a race gives me structure and I love that my summers revolve around getting up early on Saturday mornings to tackle a physical and mental obstacle before the rest of the city is even awake. It is forced meditation in a way; as good for the mind as it is the body. It is an exercise in both stillness and determination at the same time.

The reward for all of this hard work is sometimes difficult to quantify. Sure, I have shapely legs and pretty decent endurance, but I don’t look like those models on the cover of Runner’s World, and I’m not going to set speed records any time soon. But I’m moving forward. Some runs are inevitably better than others, but such is life! Progress occurs gradually and it’s all about learning and moving on.

I met one of my very favorite people on the planet during a run along the lakefront path in Chicago, and for that I will be forever grateful. But running has also brought me closer to myself (hours upon hours on the road will do that to a person). I have proven that I am capable of anything, as long as I keep putting one foot in front of the other. That I can always dig deeper and find the strength and courage to keep on going. It has even taught me to have faith and patience. That no matter how hard or long the run, there is a finish line, even if you can’t see it.  Every day is an opportunity to do better, reach farther, and learn from yesterday’s mistakes.

About the Author

Carolyn Stroud

Carolyn Stroud works in finance at a commercial real estate firm in Chicago. Her previous experience includes mortgage banking, leasing, running a start-up and captaining an adult co-ed kickball team. Originally from Detroit, she has an undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from Pepperdine University. Carolyn is a voracious reader and passionate about growing outside her comfort zone. She recently completed her second marathon and is always up for a challenge.