Why do you run?

Lifestyle, Training, Training

Text: Nele // Photos: Florian Kurrasch

December 18, 2020

Why do you run?" - This question has not only been raised by puzzled family members and friends or the drunk strangers you pass by on early morning runs...

No, if you are anything like me, this question has crossed your mind a lot of times, maybe during this last hill repeat or when waking up to the alarm clock at 6am for a high carb breakfast before a race.

In our community, the motivation to train might be a little different than the mere reason to stay fit. Dedicating ourselves to countless hours of running each week, pushing through the pain of a lactate acid party in our muscles requires a somewhat special mindset.

Given the unexpected circumstances and suspension of most races, many runners including myself found themselves wondering what to train for. We all have a basic urge to move and somehow stay in shape for possible future races, but where do you take the motivation to push through tough interval sessions or 30k+ long runs when there are no tangible targets in the form of races in sight? für mögliche zukünftige Rennen irgendwie in Form zu bleiben. Aber woher nimmt man die Motivation, harte Intervalleinheiten oder 30k+ lange Läufe durchzuziehen, wenn keine greifbaren Ziele in Form von Rennen in Sicht sind?

BTC runners at the starting line of a 3000m track race Laufteam Berlin
cross country lauf

BTC as a motivation driver

Continuing to push each other and keep the BTC spirit alive, we found new ways to stay connected - via online training sessions, small group sessions and online gatherings to talk about the future of our team.

To avoid unnecessary travel, this summer we decided to have a training camp near Berlin. Because we realized early on that at our level it's not necessary to travel far away or to high altitudes but to have the right people around you, the team. And if that is given, actually every place offers the possibilities to give everything we need to train hard, to go to our limits and even to push them. And since we also like to be inspired by elite teams in other ways, BTC also introduced Time Trials (here's a little insight: https://berlintrackclub.de/en/from-marathon-to-middle-distance/).

cross country lauf

For a while, having my teammates around me was all the motivation I needed, making me realise once again how grateful I am to be with a team who has my back.

Sure enough, we all hope for public races sometime in the future, but shifting a lot of focus on increased mileage and faster times during a pandemic came with a bittersweet, subtle feeling of ignorance and avoidance. There is/was a struggle of finding the balance between focusing on personal needs and not turning a blind eye to important matters outside the running bubble. Es war/ist eine Herausforderung, die Balance zwischen der Fokussierung auf persönliche Bedürfnisse und dem „Nicht-Verschließen“ der Augen vor wichtigen Dingen außerhalb der Laufblase zu finden.

cross country lauf
cross country lauf

Beyond the running bubble

This was a needed wake up call for me to reflect on my own personal motivation to run. I was looking for a purpose of my miles, since I dedicated so much time collecting them. I wanted them to count for more than just my strava statistics.

I asked myself whether there was a way to give running some more meaning in the whole context of 2020. With all that happened this year, and I do not think I need to elaborate on this, I wanted to believe that running can serve a better meaning than staying fit and chasing fast times on a certain number of laps on the track.

Looking for the answer to why I run, I ran. Shocking, I know. But I tried really hard to come up with reasons that exceeded the ones I mentioned earlier. And I found lots.

1. People I run with: Most of the time, they seemed to just be there and I took that for granted. But they are the reason I run hard on the last rep, the reason I run up hills, and get up early for a shared sunday long run. Because they cheer me on, they see my efforts and they believe in me. They celebrate my victories and pick me up when I am down.

2. Inspiration: When not being out of breath, I am engaged in conversations that challenge my point of view on important matters and get me thinking of topics I would not have thought about on my own.

3. Chance to change something: The Black Lives Matter movement in Berlin in June made me realise that I do profit from white privilege and that I wish to and must actively use privilege to act upon it. Running can be used to encourage and pursue the work of dismantling systemic barriers for suppressed minorities. 

4. Balance: There is the motivation to simply stay sane during COVID19. Now having to sit through online uni courses at home all day while being bombarded with yet another tragedy of 2020 is tough. I realised just how easy it is to get lost in thoughts, making me feel all tired and powerless. Most of the people I talked to have gone through such a phase at least once during lockdown. Going out for a run in the sun during lunch break was a highlight of the day. Allowing myself to break the day-to-day routine was like a reset button to my mindset and cleared up space for new and fresh input.

I believe being a runner means running is more than just a hobby - it is part of the identity. Finding new meaning in running comes with personal change and development. Call it the romanticisation of a sad looking situation, but I think there is something to finding good even in these wicked times. Nennen wir es die Romantisierung einer traurig aussehenden Situation, aber ich denke, es gibt etwas Gutes zu entdecken, sogar in diesen schlimmen Zeiten.

cross country lauf

What’s ahead?

So if there’s something to take away from 2020, it is the challenge to think differently and reflect on current ways of life and reasons to run.

Having found ourselves challenged, we still want to give you reasons to keep you running fast. So we came up with the idea of providing our community with digital open sessions - yet also giving you some different input to learn or think about that may also affect your life as a runner.

Our December session for you:

2min-8min-6min-4min-2min with a 2min easy Pace in between all reps.

– 8′ and 6′ in HM-Pace, 4′ in 10km Pace and 2′ in 5km Pace

two girls cheering for other girls who do uphills sprints - - Laufteam Berlin
cross country lauf

Maybe you want to take this week to also reflect on your running goals and motivation, maybe you just want to get the workout done and show us just how fast you ran! Both very cool.

If you do wish to engage in this topic, I have a few links to check out:

  • How do elite runners deal with postponed Olympics, difficulties in professional training and other things? Tempojournal keeps you posted on athletes’ thoughts and the few races still happening: https://tempojournal.com/



We’d be happy to hear your thoughts, feel free to reach out to us. We’d love to stay in touch with you virtually.

Stay healthy and see you soon,
Nele // BTC

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