The question has to be asked.
And frankly, I’ve asked myself this question a few times in the last week. The first time was on Wednesday. I had been in London all day and didn’t get out for my 12 mile run until about 6:30. When I finally mustered the mental strength to haul myself out the door I was faced by icy cold winds and a general feeling that what I was doing was pretty stupid. Couldn’t I have just put the kettle on and settled down on the sofa? The next morning I had my next ‘why the hell do I do this’ moment, running through a snow storm at a time of morning so early that some people don’t even know it exists. The next was the very same day, running home from work through more snow, hands freezing and teeth gritted, when it would have been easier, warmer and quicker just to get on the train.
At this time of year the weekend offers me a rare treat: the opportunity to run in daylight. That doesn’t mean it’s any easier to get out and train though. The second half of this morning’s out and back run was a struggle against a powerful (and very cold) headwind that nearly knocked me off my feet at times. Not good when you’re running on a narrow towpath next to a canal not generally known for its cleanliness. Why the hell do I do this?
Well, one reason I (and hundreds of others like me) choose not to take the easy route, is the satisfaction that comes from having done something difficult and uncomfortable. You rarely feel worse for having been out running, but very often feel much better. Regardless of training outcomes, the act of running itself gives a huge feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment – especially at this time of year when it is so much easier to find an excuse not to.
The rewards are the other reason. Despite what I have just said, my main incentive is getting better at what I do. The races won, the personal bests run, the year on year improvements relative to others. These are what keep me going in January when it is cold and dark and other alternatives seem more appealing.
I’m looking forward to spring and summer.