Why I Run, Swim & Bike (Q&A with Raina Cockburn)

Raina Cockburn

Q: When did you start running? biking? swimming?

A: I ran cross country a bit in high school but when most people ask me this question I say that I became a runner in 2002 when I ran my first half marathon. In looking back, I suspect a teacher encouraged me to try out as he saw me gravitating toward the wrong crowd and the “smoke pit.”

Many moons (and marathons) later, when I was pregnant I was advised not to sustain my running regimen, so I started swimming. I realized I was two thirds of the way to being a triathlete, so I decided my next challenge would be to take up biking. I signed up for the Ironman… then bought my first bike.

Q: Is there any reason or reasons that you started at this point in your life in particular?

A: I was looking for a challenge. I was struggling in my early twenties to find my own identity. I was navigating my way through “adult” relationships, university and potential careers. Initially, running was a way to “overachieve” as I had done in academics in high school.

Q: How have these types of movement benefited you?

A: In every way possible! It keeps my mind clear; it’s a form of meditation for me. It keeps me strong and fit, gives me extra patience and challenges me in a way that makes me feel “successful.” I derive confidence from growth.

Q: Has your motivation changed or remained the same over the years?

A: Changed! I used to race for the bragging rights, but somewhere along the way it went from something I did to something that is me, a part of who I am. I enjoy having goals, but now my goals go beyond personal achievement to also wanting to be an example for my daughters. I want them to know they can pursue their passions (whatever they might be) and that doesn’t make them selfish; it’s OK to have something to sustain yourself because it also makes you feel whole and present. When they come to my races to cheer me on they’ll ask me if I won, and I always tell them, “Yes. I didn’t come first but I won.”

Q: Are running, biking and swimming physical activities ?

A: Physical, mental, spiritual — it can be each or all of those on any given day. I feel more balanced after I train. I am able to quiet my analytical mind and think more clearly (or not think at all and I get a sense that I am floating). When I was in school, I would suddenly solve complex math problems while I was running.

Do you believe we either love or hate exercise or that you are either an athlete (runner, biker, swimmer, etc.) or aren’t?

A: No, not at all! I believe that everyone has the ability but we all have different body types that may make us better suited to different distances, paces, etc. or even different activities. I understand not everyone has an intrinsic love for individual sports just as not everyone enjoys team sports, but I think when we take the competition against others out of the equation and just focus on personal growth, naturally we’d all enjoy exercise – or movement – of some sort.

“The challenge and the energy running requires may be a selfish one, but it actually motivates me to be stronger in my relationships.” – Joan Benoit Samuelson

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