Is Running Selfish?

In running, as with any unique pursuit that we choose to partake in, there is often a distinct divide between those who are runners and those who are not. Things which a bunch of runners can discuss for hours can sound like complete gibberish to non-runners. Conversely, when I am asked questions about my running from non-runners, the questions often make little to no sense, making it obvious that they don’t run and they have very little understanding of what it is to be an avid runner. Sometimes, though, this deep divide can be a very enlightening and valuable thing. Sometimes these seemingly oblivious questions can be the most important ones to consider. Through the lens of an avid runner a lot things can become taken for granted that really are worth questioning, even if on the surface the question seems naïve or out of touch with the things that runners might typically question in themselves. In other words, I think we as humans (and as runners) have a tendency to become so immersed in our habits and in our cultures that we oftentimes begin to overlook some very obvious and substantial questions about our most consistent habits and our deepest passions.

One example of this that has come up in my mind a bit recently stems from the question, “Why do you run?” First, I need to clarify this question. I think there are two variations of it. The more common one is simply asking what is it about running that makes us so motivated to get out and go for a run most every day? Do we do it for the health benefits, or for the pure enjoyment, or is there something else that draws us so consistently to do something which many people view as painful and unenjoyable? There is a second version of this question, though. It is the more critical version and, thus, the less-commonly-asked version. But nonetheless, I have been asked this question more than once by curious, non-runner friends. This is the version of the question that is really asking, “What good does your running do for anyone but you, and if it only does you good, is it then not selfish to devote so much of one’s time to it?” Of course, people don’t often ask it in this direct and critical of a way, but if you run as much as I’m sure many of the readers of this website do and you have friends who are not runners, you have probably been asked some variation of this question. As avid runners, it’s easy to dismiss these kinds of questions and simply answer them with some shallow answer and not ever think about it much again. After all, another avid runner would never ask a question like this to a fellow runner.

This could easily be the end of the conversation about this, and we could just push it aside and file it under the premise that non-runners just don’t understand runners. This is what I have done with these types of questions for most of my years as a runner. The reason this doesn’t totally work, though, is that this is actually a really valid and important question. A question that we might never ask of ourselves if we didn’t have friends and family far enough removed from running to think about things in this way. As runners, we just ‘know’ that there is a larger meaning to our running, and that it is beneficial to more than just us, and thus not entirely selfish. In many cases, though, we may not understand why this is the case, but we just know that it is so we don’t explore it any deeper.

Again, this is what I have done for most of my life as a runner. I’ve always felt that my running has a positive impact on people around me so I’ve never really taken much time to think about the reasons why. For much of the past year, though, I have taken large chunks of time off from running including the better part of the past six weeks. Because of this, I feel like I have started to identify more with non-runners in many ways than I have in several years. This is to say that some of these questions which I’ve thought were simply a function of non-runners not understanding runners are actually starting to make more sense to me. And, thus, I have taken some of these questions more seriously than ever before because I see more validity in them than I have previously. This then brings me back to the question of whether running with the kind of focus and dedication that so many of us do is perhaps a selfish act because it really only provides a benefit to us, and not to others in our lives.

Over the past 12-plus months, I’ve come to see that this is a very valid question, and in taking this question more seriously, I’ve come to more clearly understand why the answer to this question is a resounding no. Running is most certainly not a selfish act, and it, in fact, benefits nearly everyone and everything else in our lives. When we build a consistent practice like running, we tend to develop a level of stability, health (physical, mental, and emotional), and contentedness that does so much good for the world that we interact with. People don’t typically run long distances hundreds of times a year unless they have a deep passion for it, and I believe that anything that we have a deep passion for gives us a deep sense of joy and accomplishment which in turn does an immense amount of good for the world around us. This might all sound vague or even wishful thinking, but I believe this is as true and definitive as any other indicator of things that we do that make the world a better place. It may not be as quantifiable, and this is part of the reason it is often doubted, but in my mind it is no less real.

Think of all the times in your life that you have encountered someone who seems excessively joyous, balanced, content, and excited about life. Have these interactions not made you a better person in some, small way? Not to say that runners are automatically more joyous, balanced, content, and excited about life than they would be if they didn’t run, but I have run enough in my life to know that, when I’m really tuned in to my running, that I am more joyous and feel more alive than when I’m not. Not to say that running is the only path to feeling so much joy and passion about life, but it is a path that works really well for a lot of people. In going out most every day and seeking this balance, joy, passion, and excitement for life through our practice of running, we are most definitely doing good for more than just ourselves. We are spreading an energy and a mindset to everyone we come in contact with that makes each of them just a little bit stronger and a little bit more alive than they were before that interaction.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • In your mind, is running more selfless or selfish?
  • Do you think you interact with the world a little better after you’ve been on a good run? Do you have an example from when this has been the case?
  • What other hobbies do you have that make you feel balanced, joyful, passionate, and excited about life?

There are 7 comments

  1. ToTheTrails

    This question has come up quite a bit these past few months for me. When people have asked why I quit my job to pursue another career, I end up being pretty blunt and my answer is to run more. People then have an inquisitive look about them. I then explain I am no elite but I can hold my own and I just want more time to explore on my two feet. It is then where they respond "ummm, ok" and change subject. For me it's about following that passion mentioned above. Passion and happiness go hand in hand and can be pretty contagious.

  2. irunfurther

    I have a family of 3 children and my partner, so find it hard to juggle the run/family balance. By fitting my running in around my family and work committments I guess I am reinforcing the belief in my mind that running is a selfish act, because if it was to infringe upon my family life then i would feel guilty in some way. I would imagine for all of us casual runners who enjoy long distances and have a young family and work committments then I would imagine I am not alone in thinking that. I do however believe that you have a valid point about the running impact on me and others around me, your right when I run I am in a better mood than when I dont run, which means I will be a better person to be around than if I didn't run.__Anyway I am heading out now for a 6 mile lunchtime run, as it will be the only time I can fit my run in today.__Maybe I should be more selfish with my running, that may be the difference with becomming an elite runner or not.__Would be interested to hear other peoples thoughts as this is such a huge topic which every runner will relate too.

    1. @doughty1984

      I have a friend who is an excellent amateur cyclist. He wins lots of local races. He devotes so much time to it I would say he's missing out on other areas that life has to offer. I on the other hand am a very mediocre runner who races a few times a year, aiming to just finish within the cut off. I have a loving wife, baby boy and run about 3 times a week, normally in the dark. My friend has more trophies than I will ever have but I believe I'm the real winner. Chris. UK

      1. @Baristing

        I don't think it's an either/or proposition. You're "winning", in as much as you're living your life as you want to, and happily so. That's good. But he's not missing out on anything unless he thinks he is. There aren't any universal standards for how life should be lived. Provided he's happy with his life, and enjoys cycling as much as he does, he's "winning" too. But really, it's not a competition at all.

        1. @doughty1984

          Good point. He is happy im sure. When I see the comitment he makes to keep at his level it makes me appreciate my little lot. I can put my hand on heart and say I couldn't do it. I'd love to be at that level but I'm not willing to trade what I've got. That and I'm lazy.

          1. nbskis

            i'm the mirror image of your friend as a runner. i occasionally win local races and can hold my own in larger ones, and hope to keep consistently improving. my social life and bank account take a big hit, but i'm going back to school to try and fit some classes in in an area that in the future will let me keep running/skiing as much as possible while earning more money. maybe once i find the right girl, i'll settle a bit, but i've been in some good relationships and have sacrificed that happily because it was cutting into recreation too much. your life sounds great but it's not for everyone, at least when they're young.

            1. @doughty1984

              He is a little younger so that could explain it. When I started running it was purely for fitness and only ran roads. Once I got my weight down I started running trails and my focus shifted to running for fun. I think to be competitive I would lose some of the fun both in the training I do and in the racing. I'd have to be more selfish to fit the miles in and having a bad race would be hard to take. If you've devoted time and made huge sacrifices not finishing where you expect in a race must hurt. If I get beat (which I do by 60% of the field) I just assume they've trained harder and sacrificed more. It's really easy to accept a tough race when you know you've enjoyed the little bit of training you've done. If I do well I assume it was my natural ability rather than training lots. I've watch my friend blow up in a time trail and he skipped the next few races as he couldn't face losing that way again. I don't think he's selfish as he's not hurting anyone. I just think a bit of perspective would help. It's only playing on a bike! Or is it??

            2. nbskis

              this attitude sucks. what you're saying is "oh if i just trained harder I could be as fast". well, maybe, maybe not. there's nothing wrong with living the way you are, but don't sell others short who are working their ass off to the point most people's body would be falling apart, not everyone can take that, if you're not out there doing it, you have no right to assume otherwise.

            3. @doughty1984

              I didn't mean to sound like it would be easy. I said i would never be able to train that hard. I wouldn't say my attitude sucked. Not everyone runs for the same reason thats all. I run for fun and the challenge. Some run/cycle for other reasons. I think you read into what I said wrong. I have huge respect for elite athletes. Wasnt trying to put people down.

        2. Frank

          I think you’re missing the point. It’s not how he feels about his level of commitment/lack of family time. It’s what his wife/children think about it. Just because he may think he has a happy life, doesn’t mean that it isn’t affecting those around him. This is the epitome of selfishness.

  3. adamiata

    I've never heard the same question asked of religion, more mainstream amateur sports (motor racing, stick-and-ball), or really any other comparable time-sink. I have to wonder why people single out running. Does it really matter what you spend a huge amount of your time on if it makes you a better person, gives your life meaning, and makes you a part of a community? Is there any reason we need to justify ourselves as runners to others?

    It really is as simple as "they don't understand". They don't need to.

  4. @Baristing

    I don't know if it's selfless or selfish or anything else along the spectrum, really. I do know everyone has a right to live their own life, though, to seek meaning and passion where they find it. If you like to run, run. If you don't, do something else. But do something. And don't apologize. You don't owe anyone an explanation.

  5. Emir

    Being a father of little 2 kids, I certainly use running as a stress release avenue. Sometimes, I just need to get away and blow off some steam. It has a calming effect. It removes me from the situation and I come back a better person. At times, it is selfish.

  6. savenkhkids

    Is Running Selfish?
    A little bit of both, I think. It makes me better partner & father of 3. In stressful situations @ work it doesn't make me an asshole. However, running deducts hours from time I could spend with my family.

  7. senelly

    Dang! Breathing is soooo self-serving… and so is eating, drinking, sleeping, and so on. LIVING is selfish. Then again, it's probably a good thing for each one of us to believe we are here for a reason… other than simply to occupy space and consume stuff. But, let's face it, divining purpose can be tricky. Some declare procreation, others recreation. Yet, the simple truth is we are here,,, now. And we have a very wide range of options regarding how to use that presence. Judging one more or less valuable than another is pretty silly. It is my understanding that our presence here is temporary and that simply seeking enlightenment (or something like it) while here is a totally worthy (if rare) endeavor. So, while friends and family are on the sofa watching TV, sitting in front of a screen fingering a game controller, or touring a human-transformed landscape while riding a golf cart, I am happy to be running along on my own two feet with my fellow critters in the semi-wild. Selfish? Who else but me is going to move me toward the light? In this time of i-this and i-that, watch out… there may be new terminologies emerging: i-ish, me-ish, and you-ish…

  8. barwic01

    Running gives me time to think about life in general or go deeper into a previous thought. When I am alone and just running it gets the creative juices flowing. I have solved work problems I was having, thought of different business lines to pursue, and also how to be a better person in general. The other positive is that I can get stress out if I need to. Ever do an interval run that leaves you gassed? Best stress relief ever.

  9. lstomsl

    When I was in grad school other students would ask how I could spend so much time running. But that was when I had my best ideas. I would wonder how they could spend so much time cooped up in their office reading what other people wrote and never thinking for themselves.

    I think most runners sacrifice things in their lives that other people do that are equally selfish. Like lunch hours, sleep, television, etc. in the end it is about quality not quantity and running makes us better people. Most of the time.

  10. olgav100

    Running in itself is not selfish. Running too many hours/too far from loved once too many times/racing too much is – and that boundary when "too much" is can only be found empirically in each individual case and usually only after over-stepping those boundaries (and nudged, either gently or not so much, but said loved ones/work/whatever). I think the question posed "is running selfish" is too vague to respond to. As far as answers "I see the world as a better place and have a stress relief/time to think/get happier" is something many use when they, well, say, have a glass of wine each night/unwind at the TV for hours/fill in the blank (don't want to go too far for a fear of defensive remarks and comparing "but my addiction is healthier"). And yeah, I am totally an addict and had spent lots of time on the selfish part of, justifying each very well. No regrets, by the way. Just a conscience speaking.
    As far as other hobby – Gosh, I have so many, that I always look forward to breaks lately (as gotten older and realized it's better to cherish forced breaks than be fidgety and anxious about not running). Outside my biggest hobby is backpacking/hiking in backcountry (my first love). Inside I knit, cross-stitch, quilt, cook and bake. Yoga. Write. Travel to see places not related to the great outdoors. Read books. Watch documentaries. I would love to finally take a horse riding lesson and rowing class. Go to concert of classical music. Renovate parts of the house. These are just immediate things that jumped to mind.:)

  11. hthe3rd

    The key is in asking whether our running is selfish. If we have the cognizance to question the amount of time we devote to the sport, then we are aware of the commitments and sacrifices we are making in order to train, and this is a good thing. It means that we are sensitive to how our pursuit of running affects others and, as such, we may decide to scale it back if it is becoming detrimental to our family relationships, work, or something else.

    The problem, however, is when people are so maniacal about an endeavor that they never question how it is affecting others. In this case, their commitment to running — or biking, work, etc. — may truly be selfish and detrimental to those around them since they've lost perspective.

    Personally, running and competing helps positively orient my life. It provides me with tangible goals to work towards which require a strong work ethic, discipline, and patience. Without running it feels like I'm wandering along through time with no destination. Over many years it has become part of my identity — I am a runner. And so, I need to run. Plus, there's nothing better than a good run to clear your head and put you back in the driver's seat when you feel like a day has gone awry.

  12. NGTrailRunner

    Geoff, nice piece. I would submit that just as is so often the case, the real answer is "it depends…" Speaking from my own experiences as a husband, father and professional there are certainly circumstances when I have had to make conscious decisions to alter my training schedule so as NOT to have my running become selfish…I'm sure many of us in this community have run late at night or early in the morning so as not to miss out on valuable family time…it's not uncommon for me to start a long run at 9 and go for 3-4 hours because our weekend is jammed with kid and family activities. Certainly, in making that type of decision to run when it isn't impacting my family I don't see my decision to miss out on some sleep as being selfish…however, if I were consistently putting running in front of other obligations, it would by all means be selfish, in my humble opinion. I think this question ties in with many of the other articles we've seen recently about "how much is too much" in our sport? Everyone has to answer that for themselves, but perhaps one answer to that question (in addition to the physiological ones) would be once your running begins to have a negative impact on your family, relationships or profession (i.e. becomes selfish). Once again, thanks for the thoughtful article.

  13. @spaceneedl

    "Is running selfish?" no…no more so any other human pursuit, anyway. the question itself is presumptuous and judgmental. it implies there are other, more worthy things you should be doing, as defined by somebody else.

    a more respectful question might be, "do you have a good balance between running, family, friends, work, and your community?" framed that way, you can have a spirited, thoughtful discussion about the infinite activities people spend their precious, limited time on ~ not just running.

    Do you interact with the world a little better after you’ve been on a good run? yes, every time. without exception.

    1. @TSaut

      In all respects to other posters I think this is the only answer that has interpreted the question correctly, which in my opinion, is objectively. I absolutely agree with you in that the question is fundamentally flawed and (in all due respect to Geoff) rather pedantic when being answered literally. Love the article, just have a problem with the question as it is currently phrased.

  14. Aaron

    I regard the time that people spend running and cycling as a necessary counter to otherwise sedentary lives. There’s nothing natural about a lack of physical activity, and to do such things for 10-15 hours a week is appropriate. Some of our race behaviors on the other hand are a bit selfish. The carbon footprint for a race is immense unless it’s run mostly by locals. The amount of trash generated is pretty bad as well. Finally, I don’t think I’m doing anyone any favors by supporting less-than-green industries when I purchase gear and shoes for no reason other than the convenience it offers in a racing situation.

  15. ClownRunner

    Super Elite: Don't Get Married
    Elite: Marry Another Elite
    Sub-Elite: Marry a Saint
    Mid-Packer: Balancing Act
    Hobby Runner: Happy Nest
    Non-Runner: Crew for your Spouse

  16. miriya52

    What I love about the trail running community is that it is so welcoming, compared to many other sports. Running is so peaceful and joyous. When I run, I want other people to run with me and after a good long trail run, I look around and all I see are smiling faces. And I just want to bring others into running to share this joy. I believe that trail running is not selfish in that it fuels this desire to share this joy.

  17. AV1611_Ben

    Running and maintaining good health is less selfish than not running, eating poorly, becoming obese, getting diabetes, and dying young. Which seems to be considered acceptable "living" for >50% of the population nowadays.

    Oh, I'm a husband and father of 3 x young boys, and very dedicated Christian who also gives a lot of time in service to my Church and my God.

    I don't see my running hours per week as being selfish, because although it does cut somewhat into family time, I *try* to do the majority of my running in the wee early hours of the morning when my family is still in bed. They seem to "forgive" me for my Saturday long run. :-)

  18. LGarten

    This question could be asked about anything. Some people work way more hours than they need to to chase money. Some people spend an hour or two every night reading fiction novels that are not for increasing education. The list of things could go on for ever. The real question is how much of any hobby is too much. Every person has a different answer for that. I run at night with a headlamp on every weekday run after my daughter goes to sleep or in the early morning before the family wakes up. The only thing I miss out on is drinking more beer and watching some pointless tv show, or more sleep. The only thing that is hard to juggle is the long run on the weekend.

  19. Gump1968

    Running only becomes selfish when your family and loved ones decide it is. If you have great support from family, they understand you are doing something you love and are a better person for it. If they do not understand your motivation for running, then it becomes "selfish".

  20. JordanLaF

    If your running life is in harmony with your professional and personal life all is well. I work full time to support my fiancé who is a full time college student and my six year old son. I happen to also train as hard as a can and win a handful of races each year. I've always been a runner but decided to pursue this passion with more vigor a few years ago when I quit drinking. Running helps me meditate, stay spiritually fit, and pursue a passion that keeps me happy. I have a well rounded and happy life because of running and my family has a more loving and attentive partner and father because of it. Balance.

  21. Matt Smith

    The notions of selfishness and selflessness are based on the particular social/family scenario and are not absolutes in regards to leisure activities like (ultra)running.

    How much a person values 'self' vs 'social' time can be influenced by the pool of available hours per day, personal expectations, marriage vows/social contracts, mental health needs, financial obligations, etc.

    There are only so many hours in a day, so it's all about choices. And what you and your loved ones need to maximize happiness for all involved:

  22. @TSaut

    Running (in a vacuum, ignoring the meta aspects/benefits) is inherently selfish. It is of course impossible for it to be otherwise since the activity in and of itself provides benefits only to the person performing the action. Luckily, however, we can all rest easy in knowing that this makes running (again, in a vacuum) exactly like every other PERSONAL en devour one can embark upon/partake in.

    I fail to see how another logical objective view (meaning again looking only at action of running with no other external considerations, ie: in a vaccum) of running or any other personal en devour could exist since the very nature of something personal is done/pertaining to the self, ie: selfish.

    Subjectively this will of course change on a case to case basis, however, I would wager in most cases once all external factors/benefits associated with running are evaluated and taken into account you would find running is OVERALL a very positive activity.

    Frankly I think the argument of whether or not running is selfish or not is flawed from the very statement of the question. The word "selfish" is being misused since "running" and "selfishness" are not mutually exclusive, you can not have one without the other.

    Hopefully in the future this question can be posed more logically and asked as: "Is running +EV for your life?" To this question I believe the answer would most invariably be YES.

    How beneficial (or in rare cases, destructive) is running for your life? This is where the self comes in, so let the subjectivity begin.

    Very interested to hear views on this since I am open to it not being 100% right/accurate, however, I again fail to see how it could be wrong.

  23. mtnrunner2

    I agree that well-being contributes to the well-being around us, simply because positive things pretty much always beget positive things.

    At the same time, I don't buy into the idea that selfishness involves an exclusion of others, or negativity towards others. Things that are commonly called "selfish" are in fact self-destructive, which is hardly selfish. I take it to mean what is actually good for you. The negative stuff, I call that being a jerk!

  24. MelindaRuns

    Excellent post. And definitely a good question. I would argue that most of the time running is a selfless act, for the exact resons Geoff touches on in his essay. I know when I don't run I can be brash, rude, grumpy, etc. But when I do run, I am upbeat and I do sincerely think this feeling rubs off on those around me. Not only am I upbeat; but I work more efficiently, and focus better.
    However, I do think that sometimes for some people running becomes too much of an identifier versus something they do. Yes, I truly believe running is a lifestyle choice. But when a person makes a choice to neglect relationships around them simply because they have a race, or are training, or needed to get a run in. Then it does become selfish.

  25. Matumbo_Rising

    Geoff, I am a huge fan. This was a great article, and this is a question I continually think about with different pursuits: art, music, and long distance running. I think you touched on some great points. The majority of us would not be running if it did not bring us some sort of enlightenment/contentment. It was refreshing to get your take on how this way of life impacts society. I think all great artists need some sort of solitude to hone their craft, but the key is to remain in balance. This is such a complicated sport and way of life. It requires an immense amount of dedication to become successful, and even more patience. I feel like it is only during an illness or injury when we can completely remove ourselves, and evaluate these questions that very much a part of the passion that fuels us.

  26. teecakes

    Running does appear to be selfish endeavour. It can be for some. Taking care of oneself and overlooking the needs of others in order to achieve a personal goal can cause some strain in relationships. Has anyone ever argued with a partner about taking the time to get in that 20 mile run when there is so much else to be done this weekend? With a 4 year-old son and a pregnant wife, I get that more than I care lately.
    But, I agree with Geoff that, at its core, running is a selfless act. The end results justify that. Those results being a sense of belonging to a community we all get. Examples are volunteering at an event, when we visit our local running store and make purchases which support a small business. Or, to run with a friend or group and chat about our lives, making a sometimes grueling workout into a therapy session which can leave you with a happier outlook at life the rest of the day. Just toeing the starting line of a race makes one aware of the positive impact running can have on inviduals. In the end, we are all goal-oriented people. Making the effort to achieve each goal makes us feel accomplished when we meet the challenge. I am talking about not just completing a race, but those little goals of getting out of bed and getting that run in even in the dark, cold, rain, etc. That sense of accomplishment makes for a happier person. In turn, happier people share their enthusiasm for life with those around them.
    Personally, i want to be optimistic and see the beauty in this crazy world. And, running has been a way to attain an emotional level of happiness and a physical level of connectedness with my world. The end result is I interact with other people in a more positive way on a daily basis.
    I could keep going but my son wants the iPad back to watch Cat in the Hat. Time to be selfless again.

  27. a_slow_runner

    I think I'm talking about a different kind of selfishness but this article reminded me of an experience I had while running my first 50 miler:

    The first 50 miler I ran was a pretty low key affair. The race took place on and between a couple local farms and the purpose was to celebrate and raise awareness for sustainable and local farming practices while enjoying a run through some beautiful scenery.

    At some point later on in the race I ran past a woman who was out walking her dogs. She asked me about the race, specifically, what charity it was for. Well it wasn't really a charity in the sense that she meant it so I told her that. She gave me a confused look and said "well then what's the point?". I was definitely a little taken aback but I smiled and told her to enjoy the rest of her walk and went back on my way.

    As I continued running, though, it kept nagging at me. Nobody had ever made me feel defensive about running. The thing is, running has taken an interesting role in event-based fundraising. This is a wonderful thing and has done a lot of good for a lot of great people and organizations. It just makes running a little more complicated than many other amateur sports when tackling the "selfishness" issue. Is it selfish to do it simply because you enjoy it? I'm still trying to decide on that one.

    With many local trail ultras the focus is more on conservation and maintenance of a specific area. I have run a race for the past 2 years that raises money to extend and maintain a major trail in the area. The guys organizing this race do it because they love their local trails and they want to extend access to the system to as many nearby communities as possible. This kind of approach just isn't as easy to explain to a curious non-runner.

    I'm still trying to decide how I feel about all of this. I think that running actually does a lot of good if it is designed to but there are certainly some very selfish things that runners can do on top of running by itself. It's all about being mindful. We should all be trying to do that anyway, though, runner or non-runner.

  28. JennyRuns

    My guess is that most runners fear that they are being more selfish than they actually are to their loved ones around them. Just being mindful of it probably means that you're taking some steps to rearrange your life a little and accommodate those who need you. Mindful people seem to find a way to make it work best for all. So how selfish is it really if you bend a little here or there?

    I will admit, I do not have many roadblocks in my own running. I am not married, have no kids, and I have just a small extended family to tend to. I can more easily bend my life and job and obligations around running than most. Admittedly, my opinion here is not backed with tons of experience with guilt or other emotions that constantly tug at those with kids and big families that need them to be present.

    However, I can say that as a kid growing up with a stay at home mom, I remember wishing SO BADLY that she would just find a passion… something, anything, that she could participate in… I knew it would have made her a happier person, and much more pleasant to be around. I just wanted to see her happy instead of so stressed all the time. Stressed parents = stressed kids.

    Thank you Geoff for your thoughtful article. It was also nice to read through all the comments and see where other people stand on this topic. Sure, there's no absolute right or wrong answer, but it's a good thing to be mindful of, nonetheless.

  29. robsargeant

    In the past I have used long distance running as a way to raise funds for charities. For example, the last ultra I did, I raised support for the Sick Kids Foundation. Two other ultras before that I ran for Team World Vision. Most of these charities have event websites where it's fairly easy to set up a fund raising event link. Interested friends and family can visit the website to make online pledges. Running for these types of causes helps to give me extra motivation when the lows hit since I'm not just running for myself.

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