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Chasing Meaning in Every Stride: How Viktor Frankl's Philosophy Applies to Running

Posted by George Parker on

In his seminal work, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor Frankl outlined a philosophy for life rooted in the grasp of “meaning.” For those unfamiliar with the book, Viktor Frankl was a psychiatrist who survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. In his book, he explores the idea that the primary motivation of human beings is the search for meaning in life. He argues that even in the most difficult and seemingly hopeless situations, we can find meaning and purpose if we have a goal to strive towards.

This idea is incredibly relevant to running, where setting and chasing goals is essential to the sport. Running a marathon, completing a 5K in under 30 minutes, or running consistently three times a week - these goals that we as runners set for ourselves. And just like in Frankl's philosophy, it is in pursuing these goals that we find meaning and purpose in our running.

When we set a goal for ourselves, we give ourselves a reason to push through the pain, the fatigue, and the monotony of training. We are giving ourselves a reason to get up early, to lace up our shoes, and to hit the pavement. And when we achieve that goal, whether crossing the finish line or simply feeling stronger and more confident in our running, we experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that is hard to replicate in any other aspect of our lives.

But the importance of goals in running goes beyond just the satisfaction of achieving them. Goals also give us direction and focus in our training. They help us prioritize our time and energy and give us a sense of purpose in every run we take. Without goals, running can quickly become aimless and uninspired, and it can be challenging to stay motivated when there is no clear destination in sight.

Moreover, just as Frankl argues that finding meaning in life can help us endure even the most challenging circumstances, setting and achieving goals in running can help us push through difficult times. Whether it's an injury, a period of low motivation, or a slump in our training, having a goal to work towards can help us stay on track and persevere through the tough times.

I wonder if Viktor Frankl was a runner. Even if he was not, I guarantee he would agree with me wishing you the best of luck chasing your running goals.

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