I love to run. I know. Crazy, right?

I’ve gotten used to the same look I always get when I tell people my favorite hobby. The “you’re insane,” or “OK sure you do” look. Always followed up with the same question, “Why?”

I’m left with an answer I can’t really put into words. Why do I love to run? Do I really love to run? Sure, it hurts and nothing sucks more than a long run in the worst of the North Carolina summer heat. Has it become so routine that I tell myself I love it? I’m sure there are plenty of other hobbies that would suit my interests just fine.

But nothing else gives you the same sense of accomplishment than finishing a run and getting on with your day. And better yet, finishing and running faster than you thought you would is an accomplishment. A mixture of adrenaline and exhaustion leaving you with just the right amount of tired, an experience you can’t get from anywhere else.

No other sport allows you to compete against others but also compete against yourself. Running accepts all people, all abilities, shapes, and sizes.

Trust me. Your incoordination and clumsiness that have convinced you that you can’t be an athlete will only help you fit in, rather than stand out. If you’ve got two legs and know how to move them, you’re a runner too!

Running makes you more aware of your body, of the fuel you need and how to take care of yourself -- but also of the feeling in every part of your body as you run. The beating of your heart, the air hitting your skin and going into your lungs, the burning of your muscles begging you to stop, but never letting you.

Running is my therapist, my community, my punching bag, and my cheerleader all in one.

It has brought me my best friends and allowed me to take out my anger when needed the most. You don’t have to rant, yell, scream or even find anyone to listen. Just go for a run. Run fast and run far.

You aren’t running away, you’re running toward something. Running towards a happier, healthier, more stress-free self.

Running is a sport that destroys all those thoughts saying, “I can’t” and replaces them with a stronger voice saying, “I can.” It pushes you past what you thought you could do allowing you to see your greatness and take one step closer to your potential.

Running teaches you to work hard and strive towards a goal. Whether that goal is finishing a race, setting a new personal record, getting in shape, or just proving to yourself that you can, that runner mentality within you will push you to give every last bit of energy you have left. And if you don’t get it this time, that’s OK. You have many more races to go.