I've been an avid runner since 7th grade when I joined the cross country team. I'm not sure what appealed to me, but I know it definitely wasn't the 6 am runs. I had a natural talent, if you will. I was fast and I enjoyed running - two things that are hard to come by. You typically get one or the other. Post high school, my running fell off. I concentrated more on my love for soccer than running long distances. Plus, the snow made it a bit cold during the winter. I've been playing soccer for 20 years and although people think it's a great work out, it's nothing compared to a long run.
About a month ago, I decided to get back into the gym. I'd been slacking and my ankles were getting worse. I have not one, but two weak ankles and I refuse to give up soccer. It's a passion. I started lifting again and doing some mild 2-3 mi runs. I found that squats improve my stability tenfold and the running helps my endurance as well as my play. As much as I love the game of soccer, the thrill of 5 may actually surpass the feeling of a W. 5 miles is a long way to run and when you're pacing about 8 minutes a mile, you finish knowing you pushed yourself. Perhaps that's what it actually is, you feel accomplished. And you know you did it on your own.