There's so much written about why we run. Comments range from "it allows me to eat cake" through to "it stops the crazy".
I'm not sure those are really an answer. They are an articulation of what might be an answer in the absence of being able to fully answer it.
I run and I do like cake but it's not why I run! If I didn't run I'd probably still eat cake. I say probably I mean definitely. As for the crazy there may be something in that.
That's not to say it stops me or anyone from going crazy but maybe it's a moment where you're just alone and not multi tasking. Unless listening to music or whatever while you run counts as multi tasking.
When you're running it's just that. A physical act. An expression of what we are capable of. Something that feels right. It's also a time when, largely, you cannot be interrupted or distracted. No phone calls, emails, social media, kids, partner, work - the list goes on.
It must feel right as it isn't easy. At least it isn't when you start but once people can run it seems to be what they want to do. What they have to do.
Maybe it's addictive? People talk about endorphins and runners high - I don't think I've experienced that other than against the environment I'm running in. I run to work and rarely do I get home and talk about that run. Even if I have deviated a few miles to make it more of a session. It's a practical run. It gets me home. I enjoy it and it makes me feel good but is just functional.
Put me somewhere different though and the experience is different. Totally different. I ran in Central Park NYC a couple of times this summer and loved every step. It was new, exciting and had some element of exploring in it. Same was true in Annapolis and even Amsterdam (it's been a good summer of running).
So why do I run and why do so many of us run?
I'm not sure there's an answer beyond it feels good and is addictive. I truly think it's addictive. Ultra running is full of people with addiction issues. The standard line being they have replaced one addiction with another.
You can see this in the behaviour of a runner; life becomes about their running and when they can next run. It becomes about planning the run. Day dreaming about it. Surrounding yourself with other runners and talking about it. The new gear. The tech. The whole immersive all consuming aspect of running. It consumes you.
This is why it is hard for a non- runner to understand. How can you really explain to someone that 'yeah right now it feels hard and hurts and you're struggling but keep going and you'll just get it'. Invest in it and you'll get it.
This is where perhaps modern culture doesn't allow for running. In an era dominated by talent shows and reality TV stars why do we need to invest in anything other than the desire to be famous. We are taught and teaching through TV and social media that it can happen instantly if you're in the right place or you do the right thing. Don't worry about working for something because you'll just get it.
Running, like pretty much everything in actual reality, flies in the face of this. No-one leaves the house and just runs like a gazelle elegantly down the road. But..... you can get there if you start, invest and develop as a runner.
You might not have the answer as to why you run but you will be asked the question.