The social medium is one of the most popular means to communicate, and members of Anniston Runners Club (ARC) maximize its popularity on the club’s page to promote upcoming races, remind runners about training opportunities or brag about the last weekend’s race results. But a recent post by the club’s E-news Director, Justin Thurman, went viral. Well, as much as the club’s Facebook page can go viral.
Thurman’s post posed a simple question, “Why did you start running?”
More than 50 responses ensued, ranging from the expected, “to get in shape” to the blunt, “because I wanted to.” The reasons were candid, heartfelt and real.
As stated, the No. 1 reason the posters started running had to do with health. Most wanted to lose weight, and others wanted to get their blood pressure down. Quite a few used running to relieve stress.
James Mink shared a sobering reason as to why he began running: “Flash back to February 2011. My wife told me we were joining the YMCA. I was like, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘So one of us can be around for our daughter when she is older.’… I had my last cigarette April 21 (2011).”
Mink said he has tried distances ranging from 5k to 50k but has found his favorite distance is the half marathon (13.1 miles).
The second-most common reason members laced up running shoes was they had been inspired by others. Yes, runners are competitive and yes, they want to win. But in my 20 plus years of running races, I have found my fellow runners to be the most encouraging and inspiring athletes you could ever meet. Most race against their own PR (personal record), not the other runners.
Thurman’s Facebook thread proves that to be true, as runner after runner posted their reasons for running or walking, many members weighed in to boost them up and offer words of encouragement to those just starting.
Paige Powers posted that she started to run to lose weight. She said she was tired of sitting home on the couch while her family went out to run. When her husband, Robert, told her he was going to add her to his ARC membership, she said, “I told him I wasn’t a runner because I’m slow.”
A few minutes after Powers’ post, fellow ARC member Ronnie Roberson typed, “You are a runner! It has nothing to do with speed. If that were the case a lot of us (myself included) would not be runners. The fast people are called ‘sprinters.’ LOL.”
Peer pressure was the third-most common reason members began to run. Will Williams said that more than 30 years ago a college friend tried to entice him to run, saying they would build up to run more than five miles.
Williams said, “I told him he was crazy.” But Williams was hooked on the idea, and not too long after that he went out alone into a dark, rainy night and ran 15 miles, just because he wanted to. He’s been running ever since. Williams is a regular on the local race circuit and participates in several marathons each year.
The benefits of running and walking are well known, but something or someone must be the catalyst to get you out the door and into the street.
There are a multitude of reasons to start running. What’s your excuse if you haven’t?
Brooke Nicholls Nelson is a freelance writer who lives in the Talladega National Forest near Cheaha Mountain.
What other ARC members said on Facebook
Georgia Compton Lambert: I broke my leg really bad teaching my daughter how to roller skate — took over 18 months to completely heal and I walked with a slight limp. So for my own therapy I started with the Woodstock 5k, and from there the addiction began. And yes my limp is gone except for those really cold or rainy days when the weather affects us aging folks.
Rich Etter: About 3 or 4 years ago I weighed 250 lbs. I decided it was time to start losing weight and take care of my health. Now I’m down to 170 lbs and would like to get to 155lbs, which was my weight in 8th grade. Running to me is addictive and I love it. The main thing is my health is much better!
Shane Higgins: Because I was fat......
Bruce Greene: As a farm kid, running was a necessity. Those early years built the foundation, which then progressed through grade school and high school track. As it turned out, I was pretty good at it. The Army kept me running, literally, for the next couple of decades so running has become part of who I am. I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to run all over the world. Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland, got me hooked on long-distance running and experimenting in the ultramarathon niche ... Lord willing, I’ll keep running for as long as He’ll let this old body keep going.
Leslie Taylor Hunt: ...if you just ask me on a regular day “Why do you run?” My answer is always two-fold. 1) for cupcakes and 2) so other people don’t have to die.
Janet Butler: I was an overweight child and grew up hearing, “Don’t pick her. She can’t run!” ( I moved past being overweight before I became a teenager.) But not until age 29, after several attempts, did I finally break free from the mentality that was instilled in me as a child, and began to run. I ran my 1st marathon in 1987 & cried most of the way through it. The once “little fat girl” was finally a runner!