A Runner’s Journey: Where Is the Joy in Your Purpose?

Recently I ran my first half-marathon. That’s 21.1k of non-stop, mind-wrenching and foot abusing running! My ultimate goal is to run a full marathon later this year (October at the PEI Marathon.) When I started this journey, the thought of running even just a 10k race put me into paralyzing shock. Thankfully, I had a training plan to follow. Now, what is my purpose to do this? And where do I find joy from it?

Week after week, I followed the plan and ran four times of varying lengths and speed. Each run pushed me a little further and a little faster out of my comfort zone. Some runs were awesome; many were awful. I often found myself questioning why I was putting myself through this torture journey. I especially asked myself “why?” on those days when I ran in -25C windchill, through relentless snow and that time when a wind gust blew me back a step!

Me running my first 1/2 marathon! (Photo: Atlantic Running Room Events)

I started with “why” before ever finding joy in my purpose

The means to any goal has to be rooted in why and purpose. I decided to take on this marathon running craziness to prove to my son every other day that it takes practice to do anything worthwhile. I had noticed that he despised his basketball practices, and while he generally loved the sport, he didn’t appreciate the journey to play the game. So, I realized that words from my mouth weren’t going to teach a valuable lesson in life. I had to walk-the-walk or in this case run-the-run.

Regardless of the result, I must find joy in the journey, not the purpose

Just because I had my “why,” it didn’t mean that I automatically enjoyed every step of the journey, so many of us confuse our “why” and “joy” as being equal or relative to each other.

Some of us believe that because we have a deeply-rooted purpose to our journey, we get unlimited access to infinite joy from a mystery journey fairy. Or, that because we have a lot of joy from what we’re doing in our journey, we will stumble upon our “why.”

That’s not how this happiness and fulfillment game works

There were many days during my running plan that the only thing that motivated me to run was to check off the box to say that I ran that day. A simple pen scratch was all I had going for me.

While I didn’t find much joy from my journey some days, I had to rely heavily on my “why” to get me through. Whenever I questioned my “why,” I leaned on the pure joy of just getting out for a run or checking that box on my plan, but on those days where I lost sight of my “why” and lost my joy… I went to bed. Nothing productive ever comes from dwelling in that headspace. Tomorrow will be a better day to get back to my journey.

Every day is a small run towards the marathon of your life

Seek joy in every little movement of your feet. Be aware. Every purposeful breath you take is a micro-movement towards your ultimate goal -whatever it is. Happiness and fulfillment don’t come from completing your marathon. They are the result of finding joy in your “why” and your “why” in the joy.