Why I Run

I have heard runner friends say things like “If I didn’t run, I would be a bad person/mother/teacher/anything.”  While running works wonders, I don’t believe that negativity is what sustains us. Sure, a five mile run can annihilate anxiety, sadness, anger, stress, and fear. But when it is still dark outside and cold and raining, if negativity served as motivation, would we not be more bound to bed instead? What sustains us actually is love. In so many ways: flyingrunner


  • to play
  • to get a natural high
  • to see the sun break through layers in the sky after dawn
  • to experience good in everything


  • to view the world sparkling with dew
  • to measure the change in seasons
  • to be the first out after a fresh snow
  • to brush against my favorite Weeping Willow
  • to enjoy the Blazing Maple in Autumn
  • to see the Trembling Aspen in Spring
  • to look through rows upon rows of barren trees
  • to spot the bird’s nest on the bare trees
  • to stalk squirrels that seem like cats and foxes that seem like dogs
  • to watch hummingbirds and solitary bees
  • to maneuver around spider webs
  • to find miniature bee nests
  • to say salaams to ant colonies


  • to start each day with action
  • to plan my day
  • to renew my sense of urgency in time
  • to stay on schedule, rain or shine
  • to keep a promise to myself
  • to restore routine after injury
  • to wake up with a bang and extra hours in the day
  • to manage a tight schedule


  • to meet friends at local coffee shops
  • to learn the latest happenings in town
  • to promote well-being in one another
  • to get inspired


  • to promote important causes
  • to fight for freedom
  • to tell the stories of those who cannot speak for themselves
  • to continue the memories of the fallen
  • to know that neighborhoods change
  • to open my eyes to environmental injustice
  • to dodge broken glass and empty syringes


  • to exercise for free
  • to reduce risk of chronic diseases, and the price tags they carry
  • to maximize the value of showers


  • to gain alertness
  • to enjoy all weather: the heat of summer and the cold of winter
  • to feel the seasons change
  • to experience harsh weather
  • to clear brain clutter
  • to challenge myself
  • to achieve physical goals
  • to break new ground
  • to push myself past the point of pain, and then some
  • to strive and struggle at the same time
  • to get tough
  • to win against my self
  • to almost fly


  • to improve cognition
  • to solidify knowledge
  • to brainstorm writing ideas
  • to generate intellectual products


  • to make my lungs exhausted and stronger
  • to make my legs burn like fire, shake like jello, and then rebuild like metal
  • to teach myself how to breathe inhaler-free
  • to bid asthma farewell
  • to nourish the veins after sunset
  • to lighten my load after a big meal
  • to gain energy to last all day
  • to work on speed


  • to instill healthy eating
  • to afford cookies
  • to calm a turbulent stomach
  • to recover from illness
  • to prevent illness
  • to realize circadian rhythm
  • to introduce stress for benefit, hormesis
  • to de-stress
  • to maintain a healthy weight without watching


  • to fetch apples from the Farmer’s Market
  • to learn Baltimore by foot
  • to orient myself in a new city
  • to transport myself
  • to wear myself out so that I sleep better
  • to find new fruits: paw paw, dogwood, mulberry, and more


  • to wonder at the clouds, sky, and lake
  • to bask in the glory of God
  • to memorize God’s words
  • to remember God
  • to reflect on Creation
  • to imagine the body shrouded in white 6 feet under
  • to catch the sun and the moon in tandem
  • to follow the Sunnah

These categories are not mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Each feeds into the other, and the list knows no bounds. Why do you run?