I love hearing the “why” behind a person’s decision to start running, and even more interesting is learning what exactly keeps each of us doing it, for the long haul. Because while I would never say it’s easy to go out for that first run (it’s downright tough, actually), it’s one thing to try it a few times and then let it go, but is rather remarkable when it becomes something we commit to — an activity that turns into habit and evolves into a lifestyle.
Each of us has a story about how and why we started running — and what keeps us going. And when we see someone close to us joining this awesome community, it’s pretty fantastic.
Over the past year, I’ve watched, and been so inspired by, my brother-in-law’s growing dedication to running. Jason is Joe’s youngest brother (though Jason calls Joe “little brother” given his height of 6’7″ compared to Joe’s 6’4″), and he moved back to Traverse City in 2013 after several years living in Florida. We all were thrilled to have him back in Michigan — Jason is a funny, friendly guy and a generous and loving uncle to his nieces and nephews. (He’s also a big State fan, like us, so we’ve had a lot of fun watching games together over the past several months.)
Jason saw that we all were running more together as a family. In the fall of 2013, with our local turkey trot coming up, he decided to start training for the 5K and join us on race day. “I was having trouble sleeping, and exercise helps me sleep,” he says of his decision to run on a consistent basis. A bonus: his employer, Hagerty Insurance, pays race entry fees for its employees, to encourage healthy and active lifestyles.
We all ran the turkey trot together that November, in freezing-cold temperatures, and Jason continued to run afterward. Knee pain a couple of months later, however, forced him to stop: “I quit running,” he says.
Stops and starts. We’ve all experienced them. But what keeps us thinking about getting back to it?
This past summer Jason started dating Nicole, a runner who also is originally from Traverse City. She’d recently moved back to Michigan from Connecticut, where she had lived for eight years. “I had run in Connecticut for about a year in 2011, running my first 5K there. I became a casual runner and did outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, biking … I do it for health and wellness and it is a big stress reliever.”
As their relationship progressed, they started running together.
“Jason invited me to do the Turkey Trot,” Nicole says.
Not only did Jason and Nicole train for the 2014 Turkey Trot together, they also have supported each other at other winter races: the Farmland 5K (Jason ran, with Joe, while Nicole spectated), Holiday Hustle in Dexter (they both ran it), and the Resolution Run (another one they ran together.)
This past weekend, Jason cheered on Nicole as she participated in her first snowshoe race with her sister-in-law Katrina. “It was a blast,” she says of the Big Foot Snowshoe Race at Timber Ridge in Traverse City. “Katrina got me snowshoes for Christmas, so this was only my second wearing them! It was way easier than I thought, and tons of fun. Gonna be doing more of that this winter, for sure.”
This coming weekend Nicole will cheer on Jason as he runs a 5K in Mt. Pleasant — the Winter Warriors Series’ Snowmans Half/10K/5K.
For Jason and Nicole, the benefits of running are many. It’s about “feeling fit, getting good sleep and spending time together,” Jason says. “We both like to run together,” adds Nicole. “We encourage each other and motivate each other. It keeps us positive.”
For those of us looking to stick with a running routine, Jason recommends finding a running partner. “Having someone to run with makes it more enjoyable for me–you can encourage each other.”
And, “don’t worry about being fast,” Nicole says. “It’s about starting and finishing.”
It’s clear both Jason and Nicole are excited to see where running takes them. For 2015, Jason’s goal is to run one 5K a month. Nicole plans to run one mile on average each day.
Why do YOU run — and why do you keep doing it? I’d love to hear your story! Comment below or email MRG at michiganrunnergirl [at] gmail [dot] com