Today, I am thankful.

Let’s face it, running is selfish.

You’re chasing your goals. You’re spending time and energy focused on yourself.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to tell you that running makes me a better person. It gives me discipline, confidence, energy, and happiness. Without it, I wouldn’t be as good of a husband, friend, and worker.

But it’s still mostly for me. And you still run mostly for you.

Which means that our family, partners, friends, and loved ones have to pick up the slack. They have to take care of projects when we’re off logging miles, and nurse us back to life when we get home beat up and tired.

So today, I am thankful.

Showing Gratitude

A few years ago my wife Katie started a daily gratitude practice. Each day she writes down something she’s grateful for — often something small, that would otherwise go unnoticed. It’s simple, really, but has proven to do something much bigger.

Studies have found that expressing regular gratitude has an actual impact on your health. You’re sick less often and more energized, and you reduce the affects of stress and build stronger bonds and relationships.

That’s mighty powerful, considering showing gratitude takes basically no time, and costs nothing.

This week, runners all over the United States will sit down with their families, friends, and loved ones to share a feast. In that same spirit of Thanksgiving, it only feels appropriate to say thank you, and show gratitude beyond just the dinner table, to everyone who keeps us running.

A Thank You Note

Thank you race day volunteers, for the long hours, rainy days, early mornings, and endless smiles that go in to caring for us runners.

Thank you crew members and pacers, for chasing us around, tending to our every need, and keeping us moving forward.

Thank you readers, listeners, and bloggers, for the endless encouragement, inspiration, and support.

Thank you wife, husband, partner, for supporting us day in and day out. For picking up extra chores or duties while we’re out training, and keeping us focused when we lose it.

Thank you family, for understanding our goals and dreams, holding us accountable, and celebrating each finish, even if a goal isn’t reached.

Thank you race directors, for pouring yourself into the race, keeping us safe, happy, and fed, and for envisioning the potential of a route.

Thank you running club, for meeting each week, no matter how cold, rainy, or dark. For accompanying miles with laughter, joy, and post-run beer.

Thank you trails, for never ceasing to provide adventure, challenge, and respect. Thank you for inspiring us to be better, and humbling us when we think we are.

Thank you running partner, for pushing us to show up when we feel like sleeping in. For celebrating big runs, and encouraging us to work harder.

Thank you spectators, for cheering for us even when you have no clue who we am. For sending chills down our back after a long stretch of miles, and putting a pep in our step just when we need it most.

Thank you fellow runners, for building a community we’re proud to be part of. For constantly inspiring us to run faster, further, and stronger. For holding us accountable, keeping things fun, and never ceasing to amaze us with your achievements.

Today, tomorrow, and every day to come, we are thankful.


Author Doug Hay is the founder of Rock Creek Runner, host of the Trail Talk podcast, and fanatical about everything trail running -- beards, plaid shirts, bruised toenails, and all. He and his wife live and run in beautiful Black Mountain, NC.

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5 thoughts on “A Runner’s Thank You Note

  1. Great post! Thank you for being an inspiration to many and teaching us what we need to know about trail running!

  2. Really nice post. I use the Coach.Me app to remind myself to be grateful every day. It seems to remind me just about the time I could use a little gratefulness each day.

  3. Although I agree with the idea that running is about US as the runner, I don’t agree that it is ‘selfish’. 🙁 Am I in denial? Maybe so. The thought that has been running through my head of late is that running does take time away from other aspects of our lives, however, I think of it more as maintenance.
    We provide oil changes to our vehicles, add air to the tires and run them through the carwash. Running (in my runners mind) is not selfish at all. It’s providing maintenance to our bodies and minds in order for us to be BETTER at all the other things we MUST do. In addition, the time we spend running compared to the time we spend working and doing the things we MUST do is usually much less (until our peak weeks when training for a particular event).
    This is all just my humble opinion though and thank you for sharing your list….. 🙂

  4. Im grateful to you Doug, your humour and your dedication to your readers and listeners. At the moment Im in Australia, one of the wealthiest countries on the planet yet people complain all the time. Stop smell the flowers and be grateful.

  5. Thanks Doug for this important point. ‘Nobody runs alone’ even when we are running by ourselves. Recognizing the connections between my running success/accomplishments and those who enable this for me helps me be a little less selfish, a little more connected.
    Also, secondary benefit of being grateful in general is that it makes me a happier human being. Neurology today has demonstrated that gratitude and happiness are nearly synonymous.
    Being grateful, practicing gratitude speaks to a truth of my existence: that on the planet I am in relation with all others, interdependent. I too have a ‘gratitude list’ that helps me stay focused, happy and better-connected with reality. Gratitude is a closer approximation of authentic reality for me. Ingratitude, for me, is disregard for others.
    On the roads, on the trails (I did 9 miles this morning in light rain) I am grateful for it all.

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