November 2014 archive

Nov 17

Digging deep – Why do you run?

This post is for those who want to dig deep and find out the underlying reasons why they run. Are we running for our own reasons or because we have a vague sense that we should?

If we understand why we run then we are much more likely to turn it into a life long habit.

It is where I went through the process in the post ‘Creating your own barefoot path and breaking the Ad man’s heart’

I took my time and went through each of the steps.

Step 1 & 2 – I listed all the possible reasons that I could think of that I run. Then I put it aside for a day and came back and added a thing or two. They were:

  • My clothes fit better
  • It keeps my weight in check
  • I am emotionally more level when running consistently
  • I can handle the rest of my life better when running consistently
  • I enjoy the tired feeling in my legs during the day (After an early morning run)
  • I enjoy the long run and the space that it gives me to think.
  • I like the hard, strong feeling that develops in my leg muscles. They feel strong.
  • I want to pass on my love of running to my children
  • I want my heart and lungs to be in good shape
  • I want to be fit enough to do other physical activities at the drop of a hat.
  • I want to remain active into old age
  • It gives me something to blog and write about.
  • I really don’t want to be bald and fat. It is such a cliche.
  • I like the bounce in my step when I am running well. I feel like I can spring into action if needed.
  • I can walk up a mountain no problem.
  • It opens up a world of other things to do such as playing football with my kids.

You can see it was a stream of thoughts and there are some repetitions. That is OK. Just get the ideas out of your head.

Step 3 – I stared at the list for a little while and let my mind wander. I then noted where in the list my eye was drawn and put a circle around the 3 that I thought meant most to me. They were:


  1. It keeps my weight in check
  2. I enjoy the long run and the space that it gives me to think.
  3. I like the hard, strong feeling that develops in my leg muscles. They feel strong.[spacer height=”8px”]

It is easy to leave it at that but the value comes when we dig a little deeper and ask oursleves why this reason is important to us.I did this for each of the reason that I had chosen.


  1. Keeping my weight in check is important to me. I want to look good in my clothes and feel good about myself. I lost all my hair suddenly when I was 19 years old and old, bald and fat is not somewhere I want to go. I need to have some credibility as a writer about running and I feel that many people judge by appearance.
  2. The ideas dealing with space to think and dealing with modern life. I feel like I need some space to deal with my busy life. It is the quality time that helps to sort things out and burns off adrenaline.
  3. I like to feel that I can spring into action if needed. I like to bounce down the corridor. I like the thought that I could head out and walk up a mountain if I needed to.

Step 4: Here is where I went even deeper and asked myself the question.’…but really…why is that important to me?’ I took each in turn and when the butterflies in my stomach arrived, I knew that I was getting towards the truth. It is all to easy to shy away from things. Being honest with yourself will bring a much greater reward.


  1. I also judge myself by appearance. I don’t want my wife to be sleeping next to an bald, fat guy who snores like a pneumatic drill and can’t bend down to do up his laces. The feeling of fitting my clothes well and looking at least half decent in the mirror gives me a spring in my step. I want to take my kids swimming and feel OK walking out there in half decent shape. No one else cares but the truth is that I do. I am sucked in by the running magazines and operate in a world where we are bombarded by images of an idealized perfection. My idea of a running coach is of a lean, mean army corps type and I feel that if I am going to offer advice on running then I need to be the same. Nonsense but it is at the root of some of this.[spacer height=”8px”]
  2. I like to be busy and keep a lot of plates spinning. I am much more able to do that when I am running than when I am in a period when I am not. The space it gives me is important because I believe that we are involved far to much in the process of things and often forget why we do things in the first place. Running is quality time where my brain ticks these things over and I plot and plan and scheme. Sometimes deep questions about where my life is gong next and sometimes mundane practical things but without that space I get caught up in the hurly burly of doing stuff and never stop to think about it. I don’t want to waste my life on things that don’t matter. Life is too short for that. I have sometimes been overwhelmed by my job but I am able to cope with everything it throws at me when I am running consistently. Whether it is to do with the space for strategic thinking or simply that it burns off the adrenaline caused by stressful situations, I am not sure but it certainly true. In short, I enjoy my job more during periods of running because I cope with it much better.[spacer height=”8px”]
  3. I do really bounce down the corridors and jump up and touch the ceiling when I am feeling fit and strong. The honest answer is that it feels good and I love that feeling when I am walking somewhere and I break into a trot or run just for the fun of it. I want to be a dad who joins in with his kids and not one that is on the sidelines. I enjoy mountain walking. I enjoy it so much more when I am in a period of my life when I am running. Being fit and strong opens up so many more areas of life and I want that to remain as I am getting older. As I get older, i want to remain someone who participates in life not someone who gradually becomes a spectator and watches everyone else enjoying themselves.[spacer height=”8px”]

That is what came out of the process described in the post ‘Creating your own barefoot path and breaking the Ad man’s heart’. I got serious butterlfies when I start to delve into my feelings about my appearance which i guess means that there is something in there. I think there are a few more layers to go there but it enough for now. It is a start.

My reasons are just for me. I am not advocating any of them for anyone else. I would love you to go through the process though and tell us what you find. My belief is that we are much more likely to be lifelong runners if we at least have some understanding of why we are doing it. Let’s break the ad man’s heart!

I have started a topic on the subject in the forum. Join in and contribute. It might just help.

Nov 17

Find you barefoot mojo and break the ad man’s heart

On Barefoot Beginner, I aim to be different. The aim is to start you on the journey and give you some of the tools that will help you towards being a lifelong runner. I am not going to give you a generic training schedule and I am definitely not going to tell you why you should run. There is already too much of that going on. We all have our own reasons for running but very few people stop and dig down to see what those reasons might be.

I am going to give you a technique for doing just that. Go with it. Trust me, it will be worth it. You will begin to follow your own path rather than blindly following the well trodden route (often to the cash register) taken by countless runners before you.[spacer height=”8px”]

(You can see an example of how I went through the process in – Your personal barefoot mojo  – Why do you run?

You may ask why it is important to know. Can’t you just get on with it and run? Of course you can but a few minutes here might make a big difference in the long term.[spacer height=”8px”]

The thing is that we often get swept along and fit in with the value systems of other people. Wouldn’t it be better to be running for own reasons and not for someone else’s?[spacer height=”8px”]

Often people begin because they have a vague sense that they should run. We don’t often stop and ask where  that comes from? We are bombarded by all that modern society throws at us. That includes images of what the perfect mum should be like…or the perfect dad…or husband …or wife etc etc etc. Advertisers are smart and they hit us on an emotional level. They paint a picture of the life they think we desire and we fall for it. They gently herd us towards the dream in droves. Running is no exception and has become part of this idealised lifestyle.[spacer height=”8px”]

How do we break away from that and stop running to beat of an ad mans drum? We all like to think that we are immune and that there is no way that we would fall for that. But..they are smart and their methods are highly developed. They sell different dreams to different people. They have something for everyone.[spacer height=”8px”]

They are very good at selling to people like me. The would be mavericks who don’t want to follow the crowd. They create a dream where I can drop out and turn my back on the modern consumer world and… there are now loads of products out there that I can buy that will make me feel that I am doing just that. Pick up a running or lifestyle magazine and rather than the products have a look at the lifestyle that they are trying to sell you.[spacer height=”8px”]

Running magazines sell us multiple dreams. One is the idea of the ‘serious’ runner. The (always attractive) runner who is clearly successful in all aspects of their life. The one who races to win. The one who eats certain things, does this type of hill or interval training, wears a certain type of base layer. We get swept along with whatever is popular at the time.[spacer height=”8px”]

Be aware that I am doing the same thing to you now. I am selling the dream of following your own path. Of being a free spirit that can break free from the herd. Barefoot running is full of that sort of thing. Don’t fall for it either. You can’t buy ‘barefoot’ but that hasn’t stopped a multitude of people trying to sell it to us![spacer height=”8px”]

The time has come to STOP and do something that most runners never do. Dig deep and explore where our motivation for running comes from. We should run for ourselves and not because we have a vague sense that it what we should be doing to be successful, happy people. We should run in ways that make sense to us on a level that goes beyond a vision imposed on us by someone else.
It takes a healthy dose of courage to do this though. It does make us examine our own value system and that can be uncomfortable. We feel stripped back to the bone. It can be exhilarating and liberating but also a bit scary. Often, when we think we are there, we can still look deeper and with more honesty.[spacer height=”8px”]

When we find our own reasons, we are much more likely to run in a sustainable way that we can make into lifelong habit. We are much more likely to overcome obstacles than if we are running to someone else’s agenda. To paraphrase Steve Jobs ‘You get one life, don’t waste it by living some else’s.’[spacer height=”8px”]

Here we go.[spacer height=”8px”]

The Barefoot Beginner way to find your Mojo.[spacer height=”8px”]

Step 1- List all the possible answers to the question. ‘Why do I run?’ or ‘Why do I want to begin running?’[spacer height=”8px”]

You can do this in various ways. You can simply write a list going down a page or just write your thoughts spread out across a piece of paper. You can draw diagrams, mind maps. The idea is that you dump all your thoughts on paper. It does not need to be neat and tidy. Put it one side until the next day and forget about it.[spacer height=”8px”]

Step 2 – Return to your list. In the downtime, your brain will have been working away in the background and you may feel the need to add a thing or two. The time has come to be honest. Look at the page. Where is your eye drawn to? What is it that matters most to you? Remember, this is you, not other people. You need not share this with anyone. What matters most to you? Put a circle around the 3 things that pull you towards them.[spacer height=”8px”]
When I did this, I had a physical reaction. My heart began speed up and I felt a mixture of anxiety and excitement. It felt important. Don’t shy away from things because they feel different or strange. This is about you. You can’t get the answer wrong but you can cheat yourself and take the easy route and go for something bland and generic. Honesty is the key.[spacer height=”8px”]

Step 3 – Order the reasons you have circled 1,2 and 3. It is now time to dig a little deeper. Take reason number 1 and read it carefully back to yourself.
Now ask yourself the question:’OK – so this is my reason for running but why is this important to me?’
This might come easily or you might need to let it sit for a while. Dump your ideas on paper and when you are ready, write a sentence that sums up why this reason is so important to you.[spacer height=”8px”]

Step 4 We are going to do this one last time. Trust me. Do it again. Read your sentence back to yourself. Take a moment to clarify exactly what you mean.
Now ask yourself the question:’Why is this so important to me?’

Dump your ideas on paper again and write a sentence that sums it all up.

Now do the same for the other reasons that you circled. Don’t skimp or take shortcuts. Be honest and delve deep.[spacer height=”8px”]

What emerges at the end of this process is your value system. It belongs to you and nobody else. You should not feel embarrassed because it isn’t what you think it should be. You should never feel the need to make excuses for running the way you want to for your own reasons. They are valid and important even if they do not fit in with an ad man’s dream.[spacer height=”8px”]

You may have found your Mojo but if you are feeling a serious sense of anti-climax then that is OK too. In modern society, our true feelings are often buried under many layers. We have learned how to conform to society and are conditioned to go with the collective flow. Keep going and asking ‘….but why is that important to me?’ until the butterflies in your stomach begin to wake up. Seek them out, they hold the truth.[spacer height=”8px”]

Finally, it may be that your true reasons for running are in line with the common thinking and that you are indeed an ad man’s dream. Smile about it. That is OK too as long as you have your eyes open to it and are not simply being swept along.[spacer height=”8px”]

I have started a thread on the forum where I have gone through the process myself. Have a look and then join in. Tell us why you run. Celebrate it and shout from the rooftops and break free from the ad man and his manufactured dreams.