I've gotten the question "why did you start running?" quite a few times in the 2 years since i started, and I think I always give a pretty similar answer. I don't want to bore the poor questioner with my life story, so I just give some short stock answer, but honestly I think it takes a life story to get to the root of it. I think this is true for a lot of people that see running (or biking, swimming, etc.) as a major part of their lives. So here is my story, if I were going to tell it in the way that would make the listener regret asking!
I grew up playing sports. Softball, soccer, basketball, riding bikes with my dad, an extremely brief foray into track; it was all a major part of my life. My dad played basketball, biked incessantly, played softball and coached my sister and me in everything. I was pretty average in all of it (I was better in the academic world), but I was good enough to play in my small town. My parents were very supportive and most of our free time was spent at a court or field. I played soccer, basketball, and softball through high school and got some academic scholarships to attend a local private college.
In college I studied, joined a sorority, worked, played IMs, met my future husband and my best friends. As cliche as it sounds, they honestly were some of the best years of my life thus far. Despite the IMs, I also managed to gain about 30 pounds and get out of shape. I blame the food court at my mall job.
Post college, I got a job as a chemist at a paint company in town and got married. A lot of people at my job are very active and eat a lot healthier, so I started to lose a little weight and I took up biking again. I lived upstairs in an apartment and I eventually got sick of lugging that bike up and down the steps. Cycling was fun and I still love it, but over the years I had really started to miss the fulfillment of pushing myself physically and I really missed competing, even if it was just against myself. So one night a little over 2 years ago I was bored and clicking around on the internet and I found the Couch to 5K program and decided to give it a go. I've been running ever since. I ran my first 5K in July of 2010 and was hooked on the feeling and sense of accomplishment that running gave me. It made me realize that God has made me stronger than I give myself credit for and I really can do what I put my mind to. As I was training for my first half marathon later that year and having a post run breakfast at Cracker Barrel (egg sandwich and hash brown casserole, drool!), my husband told me (in a nice way) that if I had told him a year ago that I would be doing 11 mile training runs he never would have believed me and he was so proud that I could dedicate myself to my goals. And that was before my first marathon!
Running has given me so much. New friends, a way to escape the bad days and to find myself, and a new found sense of strength and purpose. I wish that everyone could feel the way this makes me feel (even after the bad runs) and I hope through the years I get a chance to help others come to running, the way I did. You don't have to be fast, you just have to be.