The question most often posed to runners by their non-running friends or family members is, “Why?”. We adopt all manner of justifications to explain the method to our madness:
"It is a great way to stay in shape!" "It’s efficient. You get a lot of exercise from a short amount of time" or, "I struggle to stay consistent and the goal-oriented nature of training for a race keeps me honest."
And that’s only to name a few of the reasons we give people. I have used all these "excuses" at some point or another. I think you probably have too.
When I found my real “why” in September of 2016, I had been running for 60 days straight and a minimum of 10 km each day. I was on a roll. Every day I just HAD to get out there and run, and it felt great! I had a 23km mountain race in my sights, and I was just about to scale down training to build up to the race when I left for a weekend with colleagues in Berlin. At the airport I was about to lift my bag onto the bag drop, when something snapped in my knee, and pain shot through my right side. Before I knew it, the pain had me on the ground holding my knee. I eventually got up, dropped of my bag and somehow managed to get on board the plane, but I was suffering. During the weekend I was on crutches and barely managed to move around - it didn´t show any signs of improving the first days after I got back either.
This was the start of an 18-month running hiatus period in which I was able to do little more than walk. Injury is something athletes dread, due largely to its commonality and the reality that injury can strike down any one of us. I had been side lined with an injury myself previously, but what surprised me was how painful not being able to run was to my soul. It got me thinking hard about my REAL “why” for running.
Sure, I like to keep in shape, it is efficient, and I like racing - but there was something else there as well. The feeling of freedom, of accomplishment when you conquer that hill or mountain, the feeling of powering through the fatigue that hit you in any race when you are pushing your limits. The feeling of freedom running through a dew-covered valley alone in on a summer morning or putting on your running backpack for a "tourist run" in a new city. All these things steeped with the robustness of all that is best in life.
The injury happened about the same time as I was doing the first developing the idea that has now been realized as Wunjo Sports, and the name of the "project" quickly became clear. When I saw the meaning of the Wunjo rune it just had to be it...
“Wunjo is the inner urge for realization of your soul’s true will to achieve perfection of consciousness and the drive to this realization in this life-time. It wards off woe and sorrow so that the abundant gifts of the multiverse have no trouble bestowing themselves upon you. In Wunjo we find harmonious energies characteristic in functional families, group affiliations, healthy societies and nations and ultimately, the world.”
The full definition can be found here for those of you that are interested.
The meaning of Wunjo also highlights the community of runners I am proud to be a part of- few communities that I have touched throughout my life are stronger than the running community. If you are among us you know, you are never short on friends. The book "Eat & Run" by the legendary ultra runner Scott Jurek highlights this in a fantastic way. He´s in the habit of staying in the finishing area greeting ALL runners that finish, even if it takes hours after he himself have finished. In this way he is much more than elite on the course, he is an elite in life. That respect for your fellow runners and competitors is something I see in lots of runners both within the trail and ultra community and beyond. If you ever worry about what is left of the world’s humanity I would implore you to experience an ultramarathon course- it will affirm for you that even in a world with growing darkness we are at our core and rawest form proponents of love.
Share with us why YOU run! Our reasons are as varied as we are so please comment and share - I would love to see if our “why’s” resonate with one another.