Running From The Inside Out

AJW writes about running for the purposes of exploring internal motivation.

By on January 13, 2017 | Comments

AJW's TaproomOver the past few weeks, I have had dozens of conversations with runners about their plans for the year. This annual winter ritual always succeeds in getting me excited for the coming year as it is a time filled with dreams and hope. This particular year, however, I have been struck by how many people with whom I’ve spoken seem to be focused on external rewards. Whether having been selected in a highly competitive lottery or taking the plunge to a first 100 miler, it seems that more than a few of the people I’ve spoken with are focused on that which is outside.

This is, of course, quite fine with me and something that I can completely understand. The lure of the silver belt buckle and the first 100-mile finisher’s medal has been a part of the sport for decades. However, for me, especially as I have spent more and more time in the sport, I find increasing motivation in intrinsic rewards. I increasingly find myself more driven by those parts of running that are on the inside and only visible to me. In fact, the more I evolve as a runner, this notion of running from the inside out resonates with me.

I initially came to this sport as many others have. I wanted to lose a little weight, stay fit, and get outside. After a little while, I learned about proper training and ultimately racing. And for me, along this journey, I learned that the longer the race, the better. The process and the product in those early years were inseparable to me as each year built on the last and my desire for self-improvement became almost an addiction. After a decade or so, however, I came to realize that running gave me so much more. In addition to satisfaction and confidence, running also built up in me something on the inside that deserved tending, that inner peace that only comes from running from the inside out.

Along with many others, I too have assembled a plan for my year. It is full of fun events, long training weekends, and occasional road trips. It has me heading to places where I’ve never been and facing a challenge or two I have never faced. Yet, in contrast to those years gone by, this year I am motivated by what’s on the inside. This year I am inspired by what I feel in my body, heart, and possibly  my soul. And, while I don’t exactly know what that means, I do know that in these early days of the year, when I am slowly accruing the miles and the frequency to become fit again, each time I head out for a run the dialogue with myself gets louder, more complex, and even deeper.

And so, friends, in these early dawn days of the new year, whether your goals are external for all to see or inside and yours alone, I urge you to take the time and make the space to listen hard to your insides. Feel those voices that rise up as you pound out the miles and maybe, just maybe, along with the essential satisfaction of being a runner, you may also find that something more that not only makes running what we do but also who we are.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

DuClaw Brewing Company Dirty Little Freak Coconut Caramel Chocolate AleThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from DuClaw Brewing Company in Baltimore, Maryland. A friend of mine tipped me off to their Dirty Little Freak Coconut Caramel Chocolate Ale, which is an amazing new take on a classic American Brown Ale. Its warm toasty flavors are tempered with just the right amount of hops. So rich, in fact, that I was tempted to drink it with a spoon!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What are your major motivations for running and/or racing?
  • From where do those motivations originate? Do external drivers compel you forward? Internal goals? A combination of both?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.