Welcome to the first article for Lonely Goat Running Club from Hannah Irwin – a writer and runner. You can read more about Hannah at the bottom of the page. But first, we hope you enjoy her article…
Why do we run and what unites us as runners?
Whoever you are and whatever pace you run at, if you run, you’re a runner.
But, what is it about the sport that we all enjoy so much, and what unites us together? There are many reasons for why we run – which we need to remember at a time such as now when it is easy to feel isolated – but here are a few common reasons that connect us.
Physical and mental health benefits
One of the biggest and most significant reasons for engaging in running is for the physical and mental health benefits it provides.
Whether you are looking to improve your general fitness or lose a few pounds, running is a great form of exercise for ensuring this happens. Running works your entire body in one hit, both inside and out. You can improve the strength of your lungs as well as your core, legs and knees through running. While it may prove to be a challenge to start with, slowly building up the amount you run will slowly build up your full-body strength.
It isn’t just the physical benefits of running that attracts people, but the mental health benefits too. It is spoken about more and more each day, but protecting your mental health is so important.
When you put your trainers on and start running, your head starts to clear. Without even consciously thinking about doing it, your mind temporarily empties of all the troubles you had weighing you down. Whilst it may not have solved them, when you return home you feel calmer and more able to tackle whatever it is causing you stress.
Running in itself is one of the simplest sports out there. All you really need is a pair of trainers (and a Lonely Goat running vest!) and you’re ready to go. There is no other sport where your facilities are on your doorstep. Wherever you live, if there are roads, footpaths or trails, there is a route for you to run.
In such unprecedented times as now, the value of such a simplistic sport really does come to the fore. You can step outside for a run without having to socially interact or touch any equipment that may risk spreading viruses.
As runners we recognise the importance of such a simple thing. If you can add happiness to your life by going outside for a run, you should cherish this. Not everyone can say that something which is free and accessible to everyone, no matter who you are, can bring so much enjoyment.
There is such a strong sense of community that unites people, in a sport sometimes believed to be completely individual and isolated. People who don’t run talk of the ‘lonely long-distance runner’, but we all know this isn’t necessarily true.
Despite the individuality of the sport, there is still a sense of community and common respect for one another. If you run alone, the mere label of being a runner provides you with feelings of companionship and camaraderie. At some point, every runner will come into contact with another runner and experience this community aspect of the sport.
As soon as someone else says they run, you feel as though you form a natural bond. You can immediately start a conversation, as surprisingly, runners love to talk about running! Whether you are sharing PBs or talking about the run you did on the weekend, we all find such information exciting to talk about. Someone who has never run before won’t understand the connection formed over running.
Parkrun is a great example of community. The whole running society comes together, no matter what your age or ability. In many countries of the world, there will always be a parkrun nearby to bring people together. Ultimately, there is only one type of person who is willing to sacrifice a lie in on a Saturday morning to run around a park – a runner! You can’t help but all feel united.
The feeling of progressing in anything, whether it is sport or work, brings a sense of accomplishment and positive reinforcement that makes you want to continue. For anyone who runs, it merely starts off as a form of escapism or general exercise to ‘get fit’, but as time goes on, that 5km loop that once took you 30 minutes, now only takes 28 minutes.
You find yourself wanting to beat your previous time and this drives you to keep going. It won’t be faster every time, but the long-term goal to improve on your last time becomes addictive and you don’t give up.
Us runners are all united by the desire to progress as individuals and prove our own strength.
We are able to witness our own progression through goal setting. The goals we set ourselves are extremely personal; no two people have the same aims, which makes them even more valuable. Every individual spends a long time working towards their goal, which means you feel a huge sense of satisfaction when you achieve a goal that is entirely your own.
Once you have accomplished your goal, you go back to Step 1 and set a new one.
Running is an excellent form of exploration. It is this common desire to see new places that unites us all.
Many people travel the world with running, exploring new places on easy runs or seeing city sights during mass races. Holidays can be planned around running, either as complete training trips or you can choose where you visit based on the trails or paths surrounding it.
You can even venture out into your local surroundings and explore areas you hadn’t realised were there before. Without running, you never quite get the chance to do this. You never really know what is on your back doorstep unless you’ve run around all the streets and fields.
Parkrun yet again adds to the experiences of every runner. Parkrun tourism has become a reason for people to travel wide and far, visiting different areas of the world and going to famous parkrun locations. Whether alone or with some else, parkrun can take you all over the world.
Passion and enjoyment
This is the final and most important aspect of running that unites us. If we weren’t passionate about the sport and didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t be motivated to do it.
The source and explanation for this passion can’t be described to someone who doesn’t run. They will never understand it; it just isn’t even worth trying.
When you go for a run, sometimes you enjoy every minute, other times you only enjoy the last half, and some of the time it is all a struggle. But, however difficult it is, you always feel great afterwards, and it is this feeling that keeps us going. Whether you’ve run a marathon or been for a 20 minute jog, you will definitely want to do it again, no matter how much it hurt.
So, to all you runners out there, what is it you love about the sport?
This article was written by Hannah Irwin, a writer and international runner. Please allow Hannah to introduce herself, in her own words:
“I have been a passionate runner since I was six years old and I couldn’t imagine my life without the sport. My proudest achievements to date would have to be running for the England senior women’s team over 10K and cross country.
The year ahead is very uncertain so I am not currently sure of my goals, but I would like to remain injury free and get in some consistent training to prepare myself for when the race season does arrive. I would also love to wear the England vest again as soon as I can!”
Keep an eye out for more articles by Hannah, coming soon.