My name’s Jon, and I’m a runner. That is, I enjoy running and do it regularly. It’s probably my biggest recreational pursuit, and frankly is a big part of my life, so I thought I’d start writing about it.

There are a lot of reasons why I run. There are obvious ones, like the fact that running helps keep me physically healthy, and less apparent but no less important ones, like it keeps me grounded, focused, and sane. It connects me to my family, many of whom are also runners. But one of the things I love most about running is that it is at once an individual sport—a competitive endeavor in the most basic sense of competition—and yet also one that fosters such a sense of community among its participants. I love that I can go outside on any day for a run and have that time to myself, to just be alone; to focus on myself and my body in an almost meditative way—breathing, movement, rhythm, a point on the horizon. Yet on any given day I can meet other runners out on the trails and be able to nod hello to them, knowing we have this in common. If you go to a race, even just as a spectator, you can see what I’m talking about. There is both the emotion of watching two people reach down within themselves past the pain to find that last ounce of energy in a sprint to the finish line, one trying to pass the leader, the other trying to hold on to the lead for just a few seconds longer in the face of that challenge, and the handshakes afterward between them as they thank each other for a good race, knowing that they both helped the other do more than either of them would have done alone. There are the crowds who cheer for the encouragement of the middle-of-the-pack finisher they know, and the accomplishment of the last-place finisher who is a complete stranger.

I understand that not everyone loves running the way that I do. I understand that to many people, my chosen sport is at best boring and at worst actively repellent, if not grounds for committal. So I generally don’t talk about running much, despite the fact that I really enjoy talking about it, to avoid the typical reactions I get when I bring it up: indifference, of the kind that a childless person has to the overzealous parent that only talks about their kids, or, of course, the inevitable, “You run? When no one’s chasing you? That’s crazy. I hate running.” To a person who isn’t a runner, and isn’t interested in running, talking about a 5k is akin to talking about the weather—in someplace that they don’t live and never want to visit. And talking about a marathon is like talking about the weather on top of Mount Everest—not only is it almost certainly bad, but boastful as well. And I’m not here to boast. I’m not an especially fast or gifted runner; I’m not about to set any records or win any races. You won’t see me writing in detail about times and paces, because that’s not what I run for. I didn’t even go out for track or cross country in high school. Of course I enjoy the competitive aspect of running, but more than anything I am competing against myself.

I ran my first marathon last year, and it was a really positive experience for me. I considered writing about it at the time, to chronicle my experience training as a first-timer, but I decided against it, because it was also a very personal experience for me. I wanted its successes to be my successes, and its failures to be my failures. I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone but myself. I didn’t decide to run a marathon to get attention or praise; I did it because I wanted the experience of running a marathon. And now that I saw that through to the finish, I feel like there is a lot I would like to share day-to-day about my experiences as a runner and the joy (and, yes, pain) that it brings me. I decided that this would be a good medium to try that in; for those who are curious, they are welcome to come and see if I have anything interesting to say, and for those who are not, that’s fine. Like the marathon, I can do this for my own reasons and if others benefit from it, that would be a pleasant surprise. If anything I wrote here inspired one person to go out and enjoy a run, or a walk, or a bike ride, or anything else that got their blood moving, I would feel like it was a worthwhile endeavor. And if not, well, I’ll just keep running.

Thanks for reading.