I Run for ______.

Nope. Not these. (Photo credit: zigazou76)

Go to any large race and surely someone’s shirt announces, through professional printing or sharpie, that they are running for something.

“I run for my kids.”

“I run for beer.”

“I run for Jesus.”

“I run for weight loss.”

“I run for veterans.”

“I run for charity.”

But me? I’ve been running for ______. 

When I see someone running for something I feel a little jealous. When the going gets tough in a race and I’m running for myself it’s easy to let me down. It would be a lot harder to let someone else down.  Even the most ardent runner-for-something at least runs a little for herself, but running for yourself alone hardly seems noble enough when others are running for awareness of something really important.

I don’t run for my kids; I often feel like I run in spite of my kids. Of course, I think I am a better mom because I run. I’m less stressed, I am more focused and feel a little more purpose in my currently chaotic life. And I am pretty sure that they are better for seeing me push myself and stick with something even on the less fun days. Bla. Bla. Bla. But with little kids, my running is time that could be spent doing things like sleeping so I’m less grumpy or assembling scrap books or knitting or folding the mountain of laundry in my dining room or …

I don’t like beer that much. I mean, I can appreciate a tall one and a good burger every once in a while, but I’m not a beer (or a burger) girl, really. I can’t say I run for Jesus. I was raised in a practicing Catholic family, but even as a young girl I didn’t really buy all that. I often wish I could find meaning in religion or God in general, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around any God who sent me to Earth to win local road races when the faster people don’t show up.

I don’t run for weight loss. Being fit looking is a nice side-effect of running, but I’d run even if I looked the same as I did before I picked up the habit. In fact, any time I’ve taken up exercise for the sole purpose of looking a certain way, (e.g. toned arms, perky butt, booming six-pack, etc.) I give up in a couple of days. That’s never really been a big motivator for me. Similarly, I don’t run for cupcakes; I think I’d eat more cupcakes if I didn’t run.

I have to give mad props to the guy who runs races in full military gear and the huge wooden sign on his back. That’s some badass crazy stuff! I always cheer for him. But that’s not for me. I have nothing so noble to do. Anything like that that I’d do would look like some crazy plea for attention: pregnant runner pushes double jogging stroller with large toddlers in hilly road race. Oops.

I don’t run for charity, unless the race I sign-up for benefits a charity. I hate fundraising, especially now that I’m not working and would eat all the chocolate bars myself. And even if I didn’t have to sell chocolate, the only time I talk to mass quantities of adults anymore is through social media and really, does anyone on social media want to be hit up by another runner looking to fundraise for such and such race. I’m all for it, if it’s your thing. We all do charity in our own ways, well those of us who aren’t selfish a-holes, anyway.

When a shirt's old enough to drink, it needs to be replaced.
When a shirt’s old enough to drink, it needs to be replaced and if you want to run for 21 year-old shirt replacement, go for it!

Recently, I asked my Facebook friends which local Turkey Trot offers the best shirts, because I like Turkey Trot shirts (hey, we all have our quirks). Seriously, this Thanksgiving I actually have something to run for: a new shirt. I want a new long sleeve shirt for bumming around, as all the ones I currently have are getting old. I never thought there might be anything wrong with wanting a new race shirt, but apparently, there is. I was informed that the race I should run offers no shirts so they can give 100% of proceeds to the homeless. Wouldn’t it be even more hardcore to give the $20 directly to the homeless and run a different race? I finally found some reason, other than the blobby “for myself,” and that wasn’t even good enough.

It’s funny that I even need to wonder about this. No one questions in whose name someone takes medication: “I take this Lipitor for Haitian orphans!” No one feels compelled to sharpie on her yoga top: “26.2 pigeon poses in support of same sex marriage!” No one’s sleeping in boastful pajamas: ” enough Z’s for Syrian refugees.”

Yeah. It might be boring. It’s by definition selfish. It makes a crappy slogan. But, I run for …


How about you? Do you run for something? Do you run for yourself? If you run for yourself do you ever worry what that says about you? 

Salty Running boss and mother of 3 little ones with PRs of 3:10:15 (26.2), 1:25:59 (13.1) and 18:15 (5k). I love to write about running culture, mental training, and fitting in a serious running habit with the rest of a busy life.

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  1. I don’t think I’ve ever run “for” someone/something until I started running for my team. And even then, you’re still running for yourself. Your feet are still moving methodically under *your* body. I don’t know, but I really like your take on this. We live in a society so obsessed with charity (which is great!) but sometimes we really need to do something for ourselves.

  2. In our current phase of life as SAHMs, running is one of the few if only areas where we (at least sometimes) can get away with being a little self-centered. And even then, I think just this week you gave up an outdoor run and ran on the mill b/c your daughter was begging to go to child watch at the gym, right?
    So yeah, it’s ok to protect running as something we do just for ourselves (or for replacement t shirts).

  3. I don’t think you need anything to run for either. But on another note, I think you are totally wrong about your kids. You do more for them than you know by running. You are showing them a healthy lifestyle, commitment, perseverance, goal setting, willingness to put yourself on the line and go for it, hard work, getting past failures and trying again. It’s powerful stuff. Give it a couple of years and you’ll see what I am talking about because you’ll start seeing them reflect it back at you.

  4. Thank you! I sometimes feel a little guilty when TNT and other such groups come to speak at my running club. I don’t want to hit up my friends for donations. Most larger races have a charitable component, but that is never my biggest driver in selecting a race. (In fact, I avoid a certain local race based on the charity haranguing my poor mother for 8 years after I once gave them a donation.) The donation included in my registration fees mitigates some of my feelings of selfishness.

    Weight maintenance is definitely a part of why I run. I dropped 20 lbs through diet and learning to run, and keeping that off is important to me. I’ll never be seen in bun huggers, but I’m much happier with a normal BMI. I like the way my body looks and feels when I have regular mileage.

    I’m curious, has anyone else noticed the drive for noble causes in other sports?

  5. I’ve always said I run for myself and for the “old” me. But now that seems so long ago, I’ve forgotten about that person!
    Thanks for this post and making me think this morning 🙂 And for reminding me to register for the Turkey Trot!

  6. I run for me too – and sometimes, when people ask me if I’m running for anything, I feel a bit guilty too. But I was thinking today that as a SAHM, running is the only time when I feel like ME again. The old me, the independent, carefree, 20-something me. I LOVE my husband and son and the new (much nicer) me that they have both made me, but there’s something about recapturing the essence of ME that I love about running.

    I do race for medals though…if I had to choose between a race with medals and one without, I’d always pick the medals. I’d pick medals over a race shirt in a heartbeat! I love medals 🙂