Why Do You Run? 3 Runners Share Their Reasons

For the December issue of Runner's World, we asked our readers: "Why do you run?" Some of them had amazing stories, and some of those amazing stories were chosen to appear in the magazine.

Here are a few of them. Prepare to be motivated and inspired. And then, tell us in the comments: Why do you run?

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35, Menlo Park, California
Why she runs: To cope as her son struggles with hemophilia

CHRISTINE ORR RAN CROSS-COUNTRY and track in high school and was in it to win it. As a young adult, she laced up to lose weight. But in all that time, running was always a "should," not a "want." That changed in December 2009 when her second son, John, was born with a severe form of hemophilia (a bleeding disorder) that had the family rushing to the ER frequently. It took that diagnosis to discover one of running's true powers: release.

"I started running so I could just go cry without upsetting my kids [James Jr., 5, and John, 2] and husband [James]," she says. "Then I started going farther, and I'd push the kids along. On weekends, James joined us. Our sadness was going away."

The couple decided to run the first half of the San Francisco Marathon with Speeders for Bleeders to raise money for hemophilia. But when they came back from their first 10-mile run in February 2010, it "seemed ludicrous" to wait five months to run just 13.1 miles with the Speeders. A friend encouraged them to sign up for the Runner's World Challenge to train for the full SF Marathon. That marked the beginning of a fairly packed race schedule for Christine, who ran a personal best 3:31 at the 2010 Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Marathon.

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While the Orrs still "sleep with one eye open," John is now able to do normal kid stuff , thanks to an aggressive treatment regimen that involves receiving medicine every other day via a port in his chest.

"Running is the only thing I have that's mine," she says. "To go sweat, breathe, cry in the rain, and scream or sing in the woods is why I love running."

26, Durham, North Carolina
Why she runs: To reclaim herself after depression

"I ASSOCIATE HEALING WITH A BODY in motion," says Amanda Gladin-Kramer. In 2006, as an overextended and overwhelmed Tufts undergrad, Gladin-Kramer welcomed her senior year by locking herself in her dorm room and swallowing a bottle of Tylenol PM. "All summer long I'd been dreading going back to school," she says. "My junior year I knew something wasn't right. I was exhausted all the time, and my work was slipping. Now I realize that I was clinically depressed, but as I started a new school year, all I knew was that I dreaded everything."

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Gladin-Kramer's desperate attempt to escape from her life--what she now calls her "episode"--thankfully had a happy ending. She passed out, but managed to get herself to a hospital once she came to. She left school and sought professional help while staying with her parents.

The time off worked its magic, and she returned to Tufts the next fall. That's when a friend invited her to watch a half-marathon. "The swift-moving crowd of muscled legs drew me in, made me want to feel like the women I saw," she says.

Soon after, Gladin-Kramer started running in the neighborhood. "I was reclaiming myself on those runs," she says.

It's been four years since she laced up for the first time. Gladin-Kramer, who takes a mild anti-depressant daily, is now married, studying law, and "busier than ever." She's also the proud finisher of the Outer Banks Marathon. "Running didn't fix me, but it's my reward for the difficult and scary work of fighting through depression. I feel a world away from the girl who crept home, but I'm connected to her with every stride, every mile, every strapping on of my watch. Each run is a choice to give myself this gift."

42, San Diego, California
Why he runs: To give thanks after a successful liver transplant

HEALTHY LIVING HAS BEEN the centerpiece of Tom Krumenacker's adult life--out of necessity. At age 10, doctors discovered he had congenital scarring of the liver, a birth defect that meant a lifetime of close medical observation.

Krumenacker enjoyed an active childhood until his senior year of college.

That's when his frat brothers watched him pass out after complaining of flu-like symptoms and unquenchable thirst. After reviving him, they took him to the hospital, where doctors determined he was bleeding internally as a result of his scarred liver. Surgeons used tiny rubber bands to tie off the problematic veins. A similar procedure would need to be repeated every six months for the next 11 years. What he needed was a new liver, but with a small supply of donors, finding a match wouldn't be easy.

Knowing he had a life-threatening condition, Krumenacker was determined to stay in tip-top shape. "I made it to 35 and was a generally healthy guy," says the financial planner from San Diego. "I ran a little and spent a lot of time at the gym. I was really proud of my 30-inch waist."

But by 2003 the internal bleeding was more frequent and toxins were getting into his brain, causing memory loss and confusion. Krumenacker's wife called her sister, Heather Walsh, whom they'd recently found had the same blood type as Tom. "She asked me if I'd get tested to see if I'd be a liver match," says Walsh, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia. "It didn't take long to decide--all I had to do was look at my year-old niece Samantha.

"The night before our surgery [May 2004], Tom made me promise to run a marathon with him if we both lived," Walsh continues. "I thought he was out of it. I mean, I hated exercise and didn't even know how long a marathon was!"

By that August, just three months after the transplant, Krumenacker was toeing the starting line of a half-marathon. (He and Walsh's sister divorced later in 2004.) Walsh took much longer to heal, as the remaining 60 percent of her liver needed to regenerate. But when her birthday rolled around in March 2005, she opened Krumenacker's card and was shocked to see he'd given her an entry in the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon that June. "I'd literally never run before," says Walsh, "but I did that day."

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"Something happened when I crossed the finish line," she says. "I became a runner. It makes me feel so good about myself. I'm no longer afraid of anything because I've seen what I'm capable of." She's since completed 12 marathons--five with Tom--25 half-marathons, 15 10-Ks, and 10 triathlons. Krumenacker, who's since remarried and has an infant son, fits in six half-marathons each year.

"Running got me back to me," says Krumenacker. "I think I can speak for Heather when I say that running is proof positive that we can do anything."

Now tell us: Why do you run?

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