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The secret to a good life: know your why

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

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If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know I’m a runner. Sometimes I’m a dedicated runner. Sometimes I’m an ecstatic runner. Sometimes I’m a driven-by-the-desire-to-break-my-own-boundaries runner. Sometimes I’m even a reluctant runner. But in my heart of hearts, I’m always a runner.

This past weekend I ran a half marathon with my little sister and one of her best friends. I absolutely loved it. Why? Largely because I knew why I was running.

A week before our half-marathon I went along to hear writer and runner Vera Alves outline ‘The lazy person’s guide to ultra-marathon training.’ From her blog, I already knew Vera is hilarious, and – having been for a run with her at lunchtime the day or her talk – I also knew she is determined (her ankle got twisted early in the run, but she insisted on continuing). What I discovered from her talk is that she is also wise.

JOY OF RUNNINGBecause Vera’s key message that night was simple: Know why you run. Don’t worry why anyone else runs. Take joy in your reason for running.

Like me, Vera, gets a lot of pleasure from scenic runs, and she loves stopping mid-run to take a photo. Does it slow her down? Of course. Does she enjoy it? You bet. So she stops. She takes the photo. She enjoys her run.

She also – like me – enjoys the very special kind of conversation you can have with someone who you run alongside over long distances. These are her reasons for running. So a good run, for Vera, is a run with either good scenery or good company and conversation. Or both.

Running is like yoga. Running is like writing. Running is like campaigning. Running is like most things that matter to me in life. They are hard. They are joyful. And they matter. But I only know that they matter because I know my why.

When I remember where the joy comes from – my why of running, yoga, writing or campaigning – then what makes them hard may not go away, but I have a good enough reason to persevere through it. Not because I should. But because I want to, because it gives me joy.

Finish half marathonSo on Sunday I ran with my sister and our friend Jo. We talked. We stopped to take a selfie from the Auckland Harbour Bridge. And we finished together – tired, grateful, proud, ecstatic and filled with joy.

 

Know your why.

Don’t worry about anyone else’s reasons for writing, doing yoga, running, teaching, speaking or competing. Know your own why, and give yourself permission to take joy in it.

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