No, running isn’t selfish

If I hear someone say “running is selfish,” I might throw up.

Humor columnist Susan Lacke wrote an interesting column about whether running is selfish or not. Her point: It’s good for us and the people around us, so go run and don’t worry about whether others say.

I agree, but I also would not call running selfish.

Doing something we enjoy and that is good for us is not inherently selfish. I do not believe every moment of our lives need to be in service of others.

Now, what I’m not saying is that we should never do anything for others, or that parents or spouses should shirk off their responsibilities to train. Running can be selfish if the partners are not on the same page, or if the runner abandons his or her duties in a marriage or as a parent to get training in.

But most runners I know aren’t like that.

The definition of selfish is: lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

While running may fit the latter half of the definition, I run in part because it makes me a better person, and that benefits everyone in my life. And why do we have this crazy cultural belief that doing something for ourselves is selfish? I blame the Puritans.

Synonyms for selfish include egotistical, self-centered and self-serving. Do you guys run for those reasons? I don’t.

I run because I love running. It’s one of my favorite things to do. For some people, it’s reading, playing team sports, gardening, woodworking or <insert various hobbies and activities here>.

Are parents egotistical if they spend some time doing something they love and not every second with their kids?

My parents both had hobbies and things they love to do, and took the time to do them. For dad, it’s hunting. Mom does a lot of crafting. As a kid, I never thought my parents were selfish for doing so. In fact, having hobbies made me see my parents as individuals and not just a person who is here to feed/serve/take care of me and my sister.

 Maybe my view comes from my upbringing in a family that appreciates quiet time and alone time. My mom, an introvert like me, always understood my need for spending time by myself. That eventually became running.
I also think it’s important for kids to spend time doing their own thing; whether it’s playing by themselves or at practice without a parent watching. It’s good for our growth as human beings, but that’s another matter.
And I have always believed we need to take care of ourselves before we can really take care of others.
Susan and I certainly agree on the larger point — running makes us better people. But my view is that taking care of ourselves and doing something we love is not selfish, so let’s stop calling it that.

One thought on “No, running isn’t selfish

  1. Totally agree! It definitely makes me a better person and I think I’d be a far more annoying person to be around with it (stressed, anxious, bored, etc.) Thanks for this!


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