Why do I run?

I was given this poem by my HS coach.  I have referred to it often as it has helped me through some tough times.  I now have two kids that run HS XC country and you can only “coach” running to an extent.  Running is 90% mental.  The original hangs in my kitchen for every day viewing – for them and for me.

I won’t say it defined me when I was a 16 yr old HS runner and just wanted to hang out with my friends – but it helped me when I was a college runner, in the years of marriage and children and aging and death of friends that were WAY to young – it defines me every day now.

For that reason – this man gave me a gift.  And I am forever grateful.

WHY DO I RUN?

WHY DO I RUN? 
THOSE WHO DON’T CAN’T UNDERSTAND.
THE PAIN IS REAL EVERYDAY.
IS IT EASIER NOW? NOT REALLY –
THE SAME PAIN I FELT THE FIRST DAY I BEGAN.
ONLY EASIER TO COVER GREATER DISTANCES
IN SHORTER AMOUNTS OF TIME.
THE PAIN IS THE SAME AND I UNDERSTAND IT ALWAYS WILL BE.
I DREAD IT, AND IN A SENSE I CRAVE IT.
WHY DO I RUN?
TO STAY IN SHAPE, TO KEEP MY HEALTH,
TO FEEL BETTER – 
ALL PARTIAL REASONS, I SUPPOSE.
THE REAL REASON IS CONFIRMATION –
CONFIRMATION THAT I AM IN CONTROL.
EVERY DAY I MUST MAKE A CHOICE –
A CHOICE TO EXPERIENCE PAIN AND DISCOMFORT IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE A HIGHER GOAL.
OR TO GIVE IN TO THE BODY’S URGING TO DO SOMETHING ELSE MORE COMFORTING AND PLEASURABLE.
WHO IS IN CONTROL? MY BODY OR ME?
EVERY TIME I RUN, I VERIFY TO ME THAT I AM IN CONTROL
AND THAT I CAN BE THE MASTER OF MY OWN DESTINY.
THAT IS ULTIMATELY WHY I RUN.
I FEEL GUILTY WHEN I DON’T RUN – WHEN THE BODY WINS.
RUNNING IS A TEST OF MY STRENGTH –
NOT JUST MY PHYSICAL –
BUT MY MENTAL.
RUNNING IS A CHALLENGE OF MY “WILL” – 
OF MIND OVER MATTER
OF ME AGAINST MYSELF.
RUNNING IS MENTAL CONDITIONING AS WELL AS PHYSICAL.
IT’S THERAPY OF THE “WILL” FOR ME.
EACH RUN IS SUCCESS –
THE RICHEST AND MOST DEEPLY SATISFYING.
STRANGELY BUT UNMISTAKINGLY TIED TO SELF-DISCIPLINE, SELF-DENIAL AND SELF-CONTROL.
IN A WORLD WHERE I OFTEN FEEL HELPLESS, VICTIMIZED AND CONTROLLED,
RUNNING HELPS REVIVE FEELINGS OF HOPE, STRENGTH AND CONVICTION
THAT I CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND I CAN BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ME.
AN ADDICTION YOU SAY AND YOU’RE RIGHT –
THERE’S A DANGER.
SO LONG AS I “CHOOSE,” 
THE VALUE REMAINS TRUE AND REAL;
SO LONG AS I CONTROL RUNNING AND RUNNING DOES NOT CONTROL ME.
POSITIVE ADDICTION OR NOT, THE VALUE IS IN CHOOSING.
WHEN THE CHOICE IS GONE, I BECOME CONTROLLED AND VICTIMIZED AGAIN.
ON MORE THING IN MY LIFE THAT TELLS ME I AM NOT IN CONTROL,
THAT I AM SIMPLY A PAWN OF FATE AND CIRCUMSTANCE.
I MUST RUN AS A CHOICE,
NOT OUT OF NECESSITY OR IT’S REAL VALUE IS GONE FOR ME.
WHY DO I RUN?
I RUN FOR SUCCESS,
SUCCESS IN THE ULTIMATE CONTEST –
THE CONTEST OF ME AGAINST MYSELF.