We all start running for a reason. Whether it’s your New Year’s resolution, or you’re training for a race, or you want to live a healthier lifestyle, we all have our why. Our why is that inner motivating voice that encourages us to keep going. It fuels us to chase after our goals when all we want to do is quit. It motivates us to get out the door despite the chilling rain, the cold winter mornings, and the grueling summer heat. Our why drives us. So, what’s your why? Why did you start running?

My running journey started four and a half years ago. At that time, I had been nervously and excitedly eyeing the half marathon for years. I can’t tell you how many times I started training, would run for a week or two, and then give up. It’s an easy cycle to indulge, but eventually I got tired of it. I realized I owed it to myself to finish my “impossible” race and to accomplish something I so badly wanted. So, I really started training for it. I found a training plan online, structured my schedule to prioritize my training, and ran every mile. I made the ultimate commitment, too: I registered for it. I was all in.

I will always remember crossing the finish line that day. I was so overwhelmed by joy, pride, and such a deep sense of accomplishment. I did it! I made this happen. And for years, I never thought I could actually do it. But there I was, standing proudly with my medal. I was a half marathoner.

Since then, I’ve completed nine more half marathons with many shorter distance races in between. Consistent racing also means significant time devoted to training, and so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my why. My why has changed over the years, too. Sometimes, I have several whys that take turns in motivating me, and yet other times I have one solid why that sustains me through the finish line. At one time or another, my whys have been:

Because running reminds me that I’m strong and capable of so many things.
Because running gives me something to look forward to, especially on the hard days.
Because running has taught me to keep fighting for my goals, even when those goals intimidate me. Because running has introduced me to other runners who inspire me with their even bigger goals, and maybe one day I’ll have that goal, too.
Because running has shaped me into the person who wakes up early on Saturday mornings to run – and I love being that person.

Running has changed me for the better, and I hope it has for you, too. As we near closer to race day, I challenge you to think about your why. And I similarly encourage you to resist those thoughts that say you can’t do it. That tell you it’s too hard, or beyond your abilities, or that the pain will be too great. It’s SO easy to believe them and give up on your goal, or push off the goal for later, or settle for a goal that’s less scary (and less satisfying, too).

Girl, don’t fall for it. Don’t sell yourself short. You can do it. At the end of the day, when everything is said and done, what will be more fulfilling and soul-satisfying to you: Crossing the finish line of that once-impossible race? Or saying over and over, “Today’s not the day, I’ll start tomorrow?”

Stick to your why. When you cross that finish line, you’ll be so, so glad you did.