Life Lessons: The motivation to run begins with a smile

June 22, 2009

How is the Run A Race This Summer Challenge going for all of you challengers out there? Yesterday was the Manitoba Marathon. Many people that I know were running in the half marathon, the same race that I was planning on running with my father dear a year ago. He is now in Cambodia and I am now training for a little 5km race, so the times they do certainly change!

Right now I’m going out for runs a couple times a week. I can now run for just over 3 miles straight (about 5km), which takes me a little bit over half an hour. The route that I take is a very pretty one and I think that I will start working on improving my speed now that I can go that distance. I still haven’t decided which race I will run this summer or when I will run it, so I’d better start looking into that in the near future. Just remember- when you’re out there running, make sure you stay hydrated!

Something that running has taught me is how supportive everyone within the running community is. This is perhaps one of the biggest differences between running and walking. People walking down the street don’t often share the same sense of having a connection. I walk down the same streets every day on my way to work, and some of the people that I pass on a daily basis do not smile or make any sign of recognition. Their eyes just move right pass, not wanting to make eye contact with another person. In this way, I rather like the privacy of walking, but at the same time it’s too bad that most walkers don’t seem at all inclined to greet others.

The running community is much different. When crossing paths with other runners, we’ll smile and greet each other, sometimes even make a comment on the weather within that incredibly short time period. On days when I plan to go running in the morning, and I wake up and I’m not much in the mood to go out for a run, when I think about the people that I know I’ll be seeing I’m encouraged to get out there. My motivation to run right now isn’t because I want to conquer my old demon of running, and it isn’t because I want to do really well in a race, and it’s not even because I want to get a lot stronger. It’s for the smiles and the connection that is made with others when I’m out on the road running that I want to get out there.

Starting my day with smiling at strangers and having them smile at me perks up my mood for the entire day. They aren’t even strangers: for the briefest of moments when we pass each other on the street, we’re friends. I like to see them there and to know that I’m not running alone. There’s a silent, underlying mutual acknowledgment made between all runners: “Oh, hello! You’re out here too? It’s good to see you having fun and doing something good for your body! I’m sure I’ll see you again, and if I don’t- the next person you pass? That’s me, too.”

What do you like about running? What keeps you motivated to run? If you’re having difficulties with the motivational aspect, Fitness Magazine recently emailed me requesting that I let you know about their Love Your Summer Workout: 10 Motivation Tips, so check it out for extra ideas.

Edited to add that at Living Rhetorically in the Real World, I have a motivational post about how you can turn your life around with just one small change. Be sure to check it out!


  1. Hi! I just started running this month and my longest run so far was a 4 miler; it felt great. Good job on your 3 miler! πŸ˜€

    I also started a blog to learn more from other runners. The tips, motivation, and encouragement I have received from others have been so helpful so far. Yup, smiles and greetings from other runners do make my run a lot more fun! πŸ˜€

    Also, thanks for the timely reminder on hydration. πŸ˜€

  2. Im here to read you and the other commenters πŸ™‚
    I havent found my running love.


    I havent ever gotten remotely close to a runners high.

    FOR NOW πŸ™‚

  3. Hi Sagan,
    Awesome! You getting out there and running 3 miles!! For me, the motivation behind running is really a chance to connect with myself. I typically listen to music along the way…and then just let my mind drift. This is really important for me, to use this time to just “be”. What I’ve found in doing this is that I may not always run my fastest, but I do really find that the time goes quickly – and that I’d like to keep going – just to finish that last thought bouncing around in my brain.

    My next run’s coming up in a couple of weeks or so – a sprint triathlon.

    Good luck to you in your running and all the places it will take you!

  4. I so agree with you about the runner’s community! Some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, I’ve met thru running. And they really look out for each other too:) Glad you are enjoying it!

  5. That is awesome, Sagan!! I completely agree about the mutual friendliness among runners. I love running on crowded trails and in races for this reason….it’s like a common bond brings everyone together. A very neat feeling! πŸ™‚

  6. This is great motivational tip. Smile goes a long way in life, more smiles brings more happiness, motivation and health to everyone!

  7. Mia- great job on your 4 miler!

    Carla- it’ll come πŸ˜‰

    Lance- GOOD LUCK! And I’m much the same way with connecting with myself, too, while I’m out there.

    Charlotte & Holly- Sometimes it’s the people that make it all the more worthwhile πŸ™‚

    Motivation List- thanks for adding my post to the others!

  8. I’m glad your running is coming along so well!

    “When I see you my friend, it’s like a rainbow coming round the bend!” Joni Mitchell

  9. Interesting observations about the running versus walking community. I’d never even thought about whether they’d be different. (Of course, I’m not a runner–and I’m amazed at people who are.)

    Three miles straight? That’s fantastic! Congratulations!

    Leigh Ann Otte
    Managing Editor
    My Family Doctor magazine

  10. Way to go with the running! That’s a great pace! (From what I understand :))

    How interesting that your local walking community is so different than mine. Here in Memphis, whether a runner, walker, or bicyclist, a wave and smile (or sometimes a grimace in this heat) are exchanged as we pass. Maybe it’s a southern US thing?

  11. Hmm … I’m training for my first half-marathon on August 2nd, but haven’t quite fallen in love with running yet LOL I do like it much better than swimming and biking (I’m also doing my first triathlon on July 12th), but I must agree – runners are a great bunch of people! I remember how supportive they were during my first 5K (when I came in DEAD LAST!!)

  12. For me, it’s all about setting goals and training to get them. I wouldn’t say I really like the actual running (although I feel great after I’m done), but I still get out there and work hard for the sake of doing something that seemed impossible a few months or years ago.

    I think if I qualify for Boston this year, I may take a break from goals and thinking about times and just train to run and enjoy Boston “for the fun of it.”

  13. Hey Sagan! Well done on the pace. It’s funny you should mention the running community. Down here, most people smile and say hi to each other on the street. There aren’t too many runners that I see, except my husbands colleague who always gives me a big grin when I pass him. I like seeing other people though, because sometimes it gives me that extra motivation to push just that little bit harder. Like a β€˜look at me, I’m running’ thing. What a wonderful feeling!

  14. Ran my 10k Saturday! Oy do I hurt, but in crossing the finish line I think I found my running love. 10 minutes after I was thinking ‘oh hell no, I will NEVER do this again.’ Twenty minutes after that I was thinking ‘I can do better next time.’ Of course, I still hurt today, but in a very good way. I think at the race I was responding to exactly the feeling of community you’re noticing.

  15. Glad you are having a good time with the running Sagan!

  16. Dr. J- ME TOO.

    Leigh Ann & Javachick- thanks!

    Michelle- well I wouldn’t go so far as to say I *love* running… πŸ˜‰ but it’s that kind of support that I do love very much! It doesn’t matter what you place- you’re out there DOING IT which is awesome.

    Nomeatathlete- oh I’m with you, it’s all about the achievement of meeting challenge goals πŸ™‚

    Spring Girl- isn’t it just!

    Rachel- CONGRATULATIONS!! That’s amazing.

  17. Haven’t analyzed what motivates me in a long time. I would have to say that motivating factors constantly change. Right now i’m not in marathon training so what motivates me to continue running? I’m not sure, running has become a normal daily activity that I do without even thinking about it. Pretty weird but pretty neat to know that running is currently a lifestyle. Actually, everyone around me knows when I haven’t run that day…I get cranky.

  18. that is so true about the community!!

    today was a great example, i had a really long day at work and was hitting a wall ~3:30. i came to a 45min break at 4:30 and popped down to the gym to run 3 mi. My legs were tired, but i was so much more awake when i got back to work it totally paid off!

  19. I love the idea of running, but for me, the reality is so much harder than the idea. I know what you mean about smiles from strangers, though. I live in a place where people are really physically active with walking, running and biking. There’s a friendliness among those who get out there and it’s an uplifting thing. I tend to see the same people on my walking route; sometimes, we’ll catch up to each other and walk together. It’s a really nice way to start the day!

    Congrats on the running, Sagan!

  20. so many challenges! I love you love to, well, challenge yourself.

  21. I love *how* you love to…you know what i mean…

  22. You are so right about the support in the running community! I have the good fortune to live right next to a running trail and all the runners alwasy greet each other. Especially if you are wearing the same race shirt as someone else!
    I am training for the Marine Corp Marathon in October….eeek!

  23. Sounds like you got a great reason to get out there and get running. Thanks for the pushup tips πŸ™‚

  24. I work out every day, but I only started running daily since the beginning of May. So its been two months (almost) since I started, but I’m running in my first “race” this weekend-its a 5 k and I can run 7 miles now, but I’m just excited to be in the pack with a ton of runners of all sizes and exerience-hopefully I’ll feel that runners high when I’m done!

  25. Glen- I love your thoughts on how running is a lifestyle. Your running is my walking- I hope that one day I’ll be able to think of running as the same way!

    ttfn300- it’s so energizing πŸ™‚

    Dara- YES on liking the idea of it. I’m trying to MAKE IT a reality πŸ˜‰

    Kelly- aw, I heart you too.

    Missicat- good luck! Your races are so inspiring.

    Berni- hope it helped!

    Katie- good luck! I can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.

  26. I think it is so fascinating that reasons for running are dynamic, it doesn’t always remain the same.

    I used to run because I wanted to impress my dad. I then ran track in high school to be part of a team… then I ran in college because I missed being on a team from high school… I ran because I wanted to lose weight, Then I ran because I wanted to be healthy…. Then, I wanted to be fast…I wanted to be a runner. I wanted to progress. I wanted to achieve. I ran to be like my dad.

    I think meeting others with the same interest is always wonderful, regardless of the reason that brought you to them.

  27. The running community is indeed very friendly! I love smiling at people, saying “good morning”, or “good run” you you cross/pass each other!
    Smiling, I find, is almost a way of living. It’s a philosophy! Every single day, I wake up smiling, sometimes I have to make myself smile, sometimes the sing of the birds or the prospect for my day’s activities make me smile. Finding the smile within you carries you thourgh the day, and radiating it out to everyone around you just continue to circle, right?
    Have you heard the thing about how if you’re happy, even your friends’ friends benefit from it and get a boots in their happiness? I think it all starts with a smile. Because, really, how great is it when a total stranger smiles at you?!?!?! (I guess it can also be creepy, but you know what I mean!)
    A baby kissed me on the bus this morning. I was feeling a bit blue, but that totally made my day!

  28. Congrats on your running! What you said about the running community is so true. It is amazing. I will tweet about my run if I reach a goal or if it was bad and a few minutes later I have several people saying good job or hang in there. It is simple, but it works to keep me motivated.

    I’ve finally made it to running a full hour which is about 5 1/4 miles for me. Something I can’t ever remember doing in my adulthood. It feels great!

  29. Yay Running! As a two-time Ironman finisher I’m no stranger to running longer distances. It’s the community that can really make a difference and encouraging one to go the distance.

  30. Love the post and the point you make! I’m going to link to it in a post on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration!

  31. It is always great to see how your shape is improving! In my mind this is the most powerful motivation. To enhance my strength before running I am taking Navy Seal Formula, manufactured by MGNutritionals. This dietary supplement delivers perfect energy, so I am capable of running on longer distances, and I see substantial increase in my strength and endurance.

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