Why Farmers and Runners are Alike

When you ask us why we do it, sometimes we know and sometimes we don’t.

Why work nights and weekends, 7 days a week, when there are much easier ways to make a living?

Why get up at 5 am to run and deal with dark and cold or the monotony of the treadmill when you don’t have to.

On days when the sun is bright and the grass is radiant green or the golden-hued leaves are swirling in beautiful anticipation of fall, these are the glory days.

It’s fun to be a farmer when you smell fall coming and you know harvest is near. It’s fun to be a runner when the weather is perfect and your legs are just itching to hit the roads or the trails.

But sometimes it snows. Sometimes it’s cold. Sometimes hail does damage to crops and torrential rains make running a misery that ends in soggy shoes and red blisters.

What then? Do you quit?

Maybe you question why you do what you do.

But you never quit. Because it’s what you do and who you are.

Falling prices. Financial headache and heartache. Hardly ever taking a vacation. Lingering aches and pains that turn into chronic injuries. Saying no to a Friday night outing because that long run is beckoning on Saturday.

These are some challenges that never go away.

People ask why you would put all you have and all you’ve worked for into a farm. What happens when prices of grain or milk or meat drop? What happens if there’s flooding or drought and your crop is poor? What will you have to feed your animals?

These things are always at the back of every farmer’s mind, but we continue anyway.

Because watching the sun rise over your own piece of land is worth it. Watching a mother cow lick off her newborn calf is worth it.

Because being able to raise kids in the country and teach them the value of work and the love and care of the earth is worth it. Knowing that you help feed the world is worth it too.

When the hours are long and patience wears thin, you just remember why you do what you do and you keep going.

And for the runner?

Setbacks can be many. You deal with sore muscles and calloused, smashed toes. You deal with doubt. “Can I really do it? Is it worth it?”

You train through all kinds of weather; after all, your big race is approaching!

Because you know the feeling of victory when you cross the finish line at your goal will be worth it.

Because taking care of your body, pushing it to levels you never knew it was capable of, is worth it. Using your body as an instrument and fine-tuning it, rather than letting it languish, is worth it.

Because being an example of vitality and movement, life and health for your family, your kids, is more than worth it.

“Masochist” some people may say. Why choose the life of a runner or farmer? Or the life of an athlete or laborer at all?

Why not take the easy way?

“Because,” you confidently say, “Sometimes the easy way is not the good way.”

Everyone isn’t meant to do the same things in this life. But whatever you are called to, I think you owe it to yourself to work at. Maybe you’re a nurse and a mom. Maybe you’re a teacher and a cyclist. Maybe you aren’t sure what your calling is yet.

This little collection of thoughts isn’t about why you should run or why you should farm. It’s about why you should do what you’re made for. Compelled to do. Called to do.

How do you know what these things are?

One thing is for certain. What is good and what is right is definitely not the easy way.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Agriculture ( in general), Christian Reflections, Running and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Why Farmers and Runners are Alike

  1. Kathy says:

    I really enjoyed this post… not only because I can relate to the runner’s perspective and thoughts but also because I’ve wondering about the difficulty and sacrifice of being a farmer. I agree that everyone has been called to different things in life, and that we should aim to excel at whatever that is. Thanks for sharing! I admire your strength and work ethic as a farmer.

    • Lisa says:

      Somedays I definitely don’t feel strong, but thank you! I know I’m not and never will be perfect at what I do, but I still know it’s important to focus on the positives and strive to be a good steward of whatever I have.

  2. Jess says:

    And some days, doing what you really don’t want to do (but know you have to) feels pretty darn good too.

  3. bearrunner says:

    good thing no farm-athlon exists although you would probably win… Start out with a run, than head into transistion where you milk 10 cows in the barn followed by cleaning out the calf pen to the finish line!


  4. Terzah says:

    Beautiful! I’m reading “On the Banks of Plum Creek” to my kids (actually we finished it today) and I’ve been thinking of you since it’s set in MN and they are farmers. Just reading it has been good for my discipline as a runner, and even as a mom who stays home part-time. The farm chores make my chores look easy!

    • Lisa says:

      I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and I’m thrilled you thought of me. πŸ™‚ I think it’s true that if you aren’t familiar with something it always seems more difficult. I can’t imagine keeping up with your twins!

  5. Anna says:

    What great reflections! A very inspiring post that really makes me think about why I do what I do. I remember a friend (fellow runner) once saying about running “if it were easy, everyone would do it”. That’s true, but I like that this post questions why some of us do it even though it isn’t! You are clearly a strong, highly motivated person – thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  6. bearrunner says:

    I think you could clean out the bank account quickly with purchasing all the supplies haha


  7. Heidi Nicole says:

    Love this post…it is so true! So much time, effort, heartache and head/leg/bodyache goes into farming and running, all in the quest for the perfectly awesome days that don’t come often enough!

  8. I have heard something said of doctors and runners. I think running (esp distance) attract an extreme personality.

  9. Brit says:

    Such great parallels. Non-runners never do understand, and, I can imagine getting similar reactions about farming. I really respect the hard work that you and other farmers put in. You have a job that seems to be gratifying in so many ways that a typical desk job could not be. Enjoy your farming and your running! Great post!

  10. Tara says:

    This is a great reminder about the importance of being happy in whatever it is we choose to do. Thank you for it!

  11. Bree says:

    Like Brit said, there seems to be much more satisfaction in seeing the results of your hard work. I have been working hard lately, but don’t get much personal gratification from it. My Dad is a small business owner, and I don’t envy his hours, but I do envy his satisfaction in his work.

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