Is Running Selfish? What Are Our Motives?

Is running selfish?  This is the third article in a series exploring this question. You may or may not be at a stage in your life where you want to ask this question, but the longer I run, the more I realize I cannot do it just for me.  I lived very selfishly for a long time and I just don’t want to be that person anymore.  So, this question is constantly on my mind.

We all run for a variety of reasons. We all have different motives and I would also say that each of us has many motives. And, of course running is in one way selfish because it serves us, but can we pursue running in a way that is not selfish but that actually enriches not just our lives but also the lives of others?


I will be super honest in saying that vanity plays a huge role in my running. I wish it didn’t, but it is just a hard thing to give up. We live in a very vain society and I learned at a really young age (and I bet you did too) that what I looked like mattered.

I was chubby in grade school and I can remember kids making fun of me. For the first time, I realized the world might not like me for who I am, that they would judge me based on my looks.

I also remember emerging from the summer after 6th grade to go into middle school as a skinnier version of me. And, I remember the attention I got from that. I was hooked.

As much as I wish that was not true, to this day it is. At times, maybe even most times, I still run because I like the way it makes me look.   Bluck!

It is REALLY hard not to run for vain reasons. As women, I would guess we all battle this issue. My one hope, my one prayer is that over time, the balance would shift and we would more often run for much better reasons.

Can We Truly Change Our Motive and Run For Others?

In the past year I have really, really wrestled with the question, “Is my running selfish?” I believe that God put us all on this earth to serve him and to serve others. So if I believe in God, I need to ask myself if my running serves Him or others or if it is just serving my vanity.

Can I switch my motive from running just for me to running for the benefit of others? Or am I merely trying to justify my selfishness?

Am I helping new people get into the habit of running or at least taking care of the body they were given? Do I actually run with others or am I running alone all the time? Am I using my words to encourage and speak life into their lives while we run?  Do I encourage my kids to love being active and healthy or am I simply running and leaving them at home? Do I ever run a race for another or with another who is new and wants a friend to run with them?

Of course running can be super selfish. All hobbies can be selfish. They can become all-consuming and take precedent over everything including relationships.

BUT, if we are purposeful, they can also be places of immense generosity. When we go to run, we can choose to run with others at least some of the time. What happens when you choose to run with other women? We chat, right? We share our lives, our hurts, our struggles and our successes. And in those moments we have a power that few of us realize.

We have the power of our words. Every day, in every moment our words can lift up, tear down or be completely wasted. Our words can be a light in the darkness. This week and this year, as we run, may we use our words to encourage, to lift up, to come along side and to love one another. May we realize that we can use our running not just for ourselves but to enrich the lives of others. And that is not selfish.





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