I have started and stopped running more times in my life than I care to admit, but a change in my life took me from an inconsistent runner to a committed one.
From my high school days to my late 20s, I was hot and cold with running. I'd always start running as a form of exercise, but then I would lose interest or get injured. Every time I started, I'd tell myself that I was not going to give up. I would give myself a reason to run -- lose weight, train for a race, raise money for a charity or spend time with someone I was in love with.
While all those reasons were legitimate, they did not keep me running. Complacency led me to stop running. I hit my weight goal, finished the races I trained for, met my fundraising goals and married my wife. When I accomplished all of these things, my interest in running waned.
Looking back, I can point to the fact that I didn't challenge myself to keep going. I saw running as a means to reach a goal, and when I met the goal I was done. Furthermore, I got injured. Injuries are an easy way out, and when asked why I stopped running, I could always justify it with a past injury. But I was kidding myself.
In 2011, I took up running again, but this time it was different.
For me, the change came from within. Four years ago, I started running again, and I haven't stopped. I changed my mindset completely. I didn't just put my headphones on and run. I got serious about running and learned how to do it right.
The tipping point that led to this change was a combination of a set of bad blood test results and the birth of my second child. Suddenly, things became real. I decided I wanted to be healthy for me and my family, and that meant I needed to change. That started with running consistently.
When I picked up running again I started to look at it differently. I focused less on the process and more on the experience of it. Running became a time to clear my head, listen to music, think about my family, make plans, socialize, create and imagine.
I also invested more time into running without actually running. I began reading about marathon training philosophies, shoes, running techniques, injury prevention and rehab, strength building, diet and technology.
The reason I've been able to stick with running for four years straight now that I learned how to become a runner, not just someone who runs.
When I finally made this change, I experienced a number of highs that I wouldn't have before, such as achieving a personal best in a 10K race. The old me might have felt satisfied after the first race and put my running shoes away, but the new me keeps running even after the race is over.
Chris Narbone is a Chicago runner who curates Amplify Running, a blog about gear and technology for runners.