The Selfish Runner?


By Myrna P. Hoover

Selfish people are often obsessed with themselves or their goals. They put themselves first without regard to other people. They are egotistical and self-centered. They are takers not givers. Individual goals come before team goals.

Non-running family and friends sometimes consider runners selfish for spending time running. Sure, runners may seem selfish. We put running high on our list of priorities. We don’t often neglect our time on the road. Yet, if we keep it in the right perspective, running gives us the ability to focus less on ourselves while giving the best of ourselves to the people and priorities in our lives. Running enables us to be more full of “self” – self-disciplined, self-motivated, self-confident, and self-reliant.

Each week most runners look ahead at the schedule we have mapped out for our running. Track and hill workouts, long and easy runs, trail or road runs make up the picture we often see. We plan our time to maximize our workouts and minimize the disruption it causes our families. The discipline we use to maintain our running schedules provides us a roadmap to meet the other commitments in our lives. The energy we acquire from being healthy allows us to give more of our “best” selves not just more of our time.

No one forces runners to get up early, give up lunch, or go out late to log a run. Motivation to run when it’s cold, rainy, or 100 degrees comes from within. This same motivation allows us to go to our children’s events, review their homework, and motivate them to set goals for their own lives. Running gives us the mental strength to believe that we can meet the demands of this fast paced world in which we live. Sometimes our running motivates us to simply slow down, because it reminds us how important life and living really is.

Most of us would acknowledge that we have to learn to accept ourselves before we can love and accept other people. Running allows us to do just that. It boosts our self-confidence. It makes us feel better about who we are and what we can offer to other people. Spouses, children, co-workers, and friends benefit from being around a self-confident runner. We are happier, healthier, more fun to be around, and more at peace with our own bodies and ourselves. Our lives seem richer and more fulfilling.

Running helps us to make decisions, to be self-reliant. What runner, hasn’t used past running experiences to get through a tough time. It may sound crazy to a non-runner but knowing you can run a marathon, or train for a 10K PR strengthens your ability to rely on yourself. It allows us to think through situations and create a workable plan. Runners know how to set goals and meet them. Telling a runner they can’t is really presenting them with a challenge not an obstacle. If you need a goal oriented person find a runner.

Running may seem selfish and obsessive to some people. Certainly some runners are both. Nevertheless, when I look at my running friends and the positives running has given me, I believe the “self’s” we get from running benefits us all. As George Sheehan wrote, “The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life.”

I’ll meet you at the finish…