Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Existential Crisis of Runners

Why do we get up each day and run, day after day after day? What drives us? Is it worth the sacrifice? I recently received an email about this running existential crisis from a friend. She wanted to know if I ever feel a little lost in where my running takes me.


At first it is exciting to be doing something new, something that I feel like might be impossible.  Ultras are fun in the beginning because we are excited by doing something so big. Once I knew I could do a 50k, 50 mile, 100 mile, ultras lost a little luster.  I couldn't do the long races anymore solely to prove to myself that I could finish since I already knew that.  So I started competing, trying to place and run fast.  But competition is fickle and it's only a little satisfying to win.  So why do it?  This threw me into an existential running crisis a year ago and I dropped from a few 100 mile races because I was not excited about the race courses. I knew I could finish, but finishing wasn't enough anymore.  I needed a deeper meaning.

Lately, for me running has been about building a community.  I run so I can have my tribe.  I'm really not sure why I do anything in life... unless it's hugging my little girls or reading a book to them before bedtime. In the end, it's the connections I make with others that give my running meaning.  I also love being fit and that takes work, so I do the work. I wish I had a good answer for myself and my friend who asked the question in the first place.

I know as deeply as anyone that in the end, it's just you and the life you've made for yourself.  Don't expect anyone to hold your hand or be there for you when the going gets tough.  But you can always go for a run.  No one can take that joy away from you.  The best thing you can do for yourself is pick an adventure that excites you and go for it, full of fear, but holding nothing back.


  1. Good stuff, C! Invite adventure into your life, and being in the moment for your friends and family becomes a simple thing. Plus you get a few good stories to tell.

  2. Thank you. I needed that. I'm glad I paused to read it and think about.


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