Why? Why do you want to run?

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with one of our patients. This woman (let's call her Jen) is fit and in her mid 60's. She had been a runner for most of her life. Jen was forced to alter her training after she had developed a couple of nagging injuries that made running painful for her. As a lifelong exerciser, she knew that she needed to do something else, but was not sure exactly what she should do. She began weight training because there was less repetitive "wear and tear" on her achy joints. Jen has been weight training consistently over the past several years with only minor aches and pains.

Typically on follow-up visits, in our office, as we near the end of our treatment plans we discuss the importance of continuing to exercise and what they should do after they have been discharged from our care. Jen has been strength training but wanted to take this time to discuss a return to running. Can you guess what my response was? I asked her "Why? Why do you want to run?" Remember that Jen has been strength training for years, and has been healthy throughout most of that time. So I struggled to understand why she would want to change her routine and go back to running.

To be clear, I wanted to tell Jen that returning to running was not a great idea, but I needed to know one thing before I told her that. Why was running important to her at this point? I needed to take a step back to try to understand her perspective.

We treat a lot of runners in our office. While I am not, personally, a runner, I do understand why the majority of runners run. Running provides physical exercise, but it also impacts their mental and social health. For many runners, there are certain feelings that they associate with finishing up a "long" run. Long is obviously a relative term. For some, "long" is a mile. For others "long" is 50 miles. Regardless of the length of the "long" run, the feeling that runners get at that time is often the same. Jen missed that feeling. She missed that completely exhausted feeling. The feeling of having completely emptied the tank.

More importantly, in this situation, I think that running brought back memories of Jen's youth. She had memories of completing marathons with friends. Memories of spending hours training for those marathons. It is important to remember that we have all walked a different path to get to where we are right now. Our path shapes our beliefs, our needs, our expectations. Each of those has an impact on all of the decisions that we make. Our exercise choices, our nutritional choices, our sleep choices, our job choices... They are all impacted by our path! The list of things affected is endless. 

The lesson learned here is simple - Be careful passing judgment on decisions made by others when you have not been walking on their path with them. Experiences from their past may be shaping the decisions that they are making today.

Get out there and move today!


Movement is my medicine,


Dr. William "Chip" Bleam

Dr. William "Chip" Bleam


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