When You Keep Running But Not Sure Why

I’ve been a runner for over 20 years. My husband, Brad, had always preferred pretty much any other activity on the planet. Early in the pandemic he surprised us both by taking up running. I asked him why he started, and why—despite definite ups and downs—he hasn’t quit.  

Sarah: You ran a little growing up, like in school.

Brad: Yes of course – we would run a mile in PE, and I did like it because I felt fast. It was pretty easy, and when I would run Bloomsday growing up in Spokane it also seemed pretty easy.

When did running stop seeming fun?

Right after that. I played all the sports, and I would always say that running should have a purpose. You run toward the goal, from 1st to 3rd, to get a basketball—but just going out and running around seemed ridiculous.

So how would you describe running then?

“Tiresome pointlessness.”

Why did you start running during the pandemic?

I think honestly I just wanted to get out and do something. And then when I started running with friends once a week I always had the promise of friends, and beers, afterward.

And you also ran on your own. What made you keep doing that?

person running along an empty roadway with sunset colors on a flat horizon.
Why Keep Running? // Photo: Shutterstock.

I think part of it was it was a very easy and efficient workout, and I did like being outside, and, honestly, it was the only time in my life I had to listen to funny podcasts.

You’ve said that running is annoying because some runs you feel great, some days you feel terrible, some runs you think you ran fast but you were actually slower than you thought, or vice versa.

I’m very frustrated by all of that! Sometimes the first mile will be incredibly hard and after that it feels incredibly easy. Sometimes the first mile feels easy and by the third mile I feel like I want to stop and crawl home. I can train for Bloomsday and run it and feel great about it, and now [a month later] sometimes going four miles seems impossible. Why??

But that’s not enough to make you stop?

No. Because I still like listening to podcasts. Also I feel like my life is often very stressful and tiring and people always talk about how running is a release for that, and I don’t agree. So it would be nice if that was ever true.

Are you holding out hope that that will happen?

YES! And that it will get easier.

Are you impressed with how much our kids like running?

(Laughs) I don’t know how to answer that question. [They hate it.]

What would you say to someone thinking about starting?

Stay away. Just kidding. I don’t feel like I have any advice. I hope the positives outweigh the negatives. I would also say good shoes really do make a difference. Being on relatively flat ground makes a difference. I’m surprised by how hard hills are, comparatively. It seems like they should only be a little bit harder. But they’re a lotta bit harder.

I’ve been surprised by how much I have to think about timing—weather timing, food timing, work schedule timing. Indoor workouts you don’t have to worry about weather.

Anything else?

I do have moments usually every run where I feel like, okay, I’m really doing it. And I think I do still have moments every run where I’m like, why am I doing this. I guess the good ones are enough to keep me going.

Originally published as “When You’re Not Sure Why — But Keep Running Anyway” in the July-August 2022 print issue.

Sarah Hauge is a writer and editor who lives in Spokane. She writes the Run Wild column for each issue of Out There.

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