This topic has probably already turned of the vast majority of readers. I promise this is not about technique or best routes. No, this is more based in philosophy and why I personally run.
A little background. I am training for the Chicago marathon in October. Why? To prove to myself I can do it. I am also reading Haruki Murakami’s auto-biographical book about running. I figured that with a potent cocktail such as that it is about time I wrote about running.
Now, I have never had what you could call an athletic physique. In fact, I am probably the opposite. That is not to say I’m some lazy ass, it’s genes mostly these days (but not always). I am one of those people who will gain weight if I sit still. It sucks, but on the bright side it keeps me aware and active. In high school I was a little chubster. I had a terrible diet and was a total couch potato. Around senior year I got kind of embarrassed and (begrudgingly) decided to do something about it. My girlfriend at the time was all into running; track, cross-country, the whole shebang. (Me being what I was, I must have had just an amazing personality to bag a runner. I kid, I kid…) Anyway she was trying to get to go running so I caved. I actually enjoyed it, I mean beyond the pain, panting, and shin splints. I started to pick it up after that and have been running on and off ever since.
Running is a unique sport. I really think it’s the most human of all sports. You are basically equipped for it naked. You need almost no gear for it, a pair of shoes and a long stretch of road. We are born runners. It’s part of our survival.
Running is also one of the most personal sports. This is why it suits me so well. Aside from races, running is a solitary experience. The only person you are competing against is yourself. This makes only you accountable for any shortfalls that occur. The time when I am running it is very peaceful, almost meditative. I rarely run with music and when I do it’s mostly without lyrics. It’s a chance to escape into my head because the only thing my body needs to worry about is moving forward. If there is ever a problem I need to confront or anger that needs venting I always save it for the run. It’s incredibly cathartic.
There is nothing better than reaching the goal you set for yourself, or finishing a long run. The runner’s high is real and it feels amazing. The endorphins swimming all around invigorating every part of your being. The immediate gratification after running is awesome and keeps you coming back. There is days when you don’t want to run. That never goes away, and from what I read, even at the Olympic level. You just need to push through it.
That’s why I run. It aligns itself so well with my personal philosophies. It’s a matter of you vs. you. That’s what life really is. It is always, how bad do you want it? If you work had enough and have the determination you will get to where ever you want.
Running is a sacred time of day for me. It is my meditation and my soul food. It keeps me healthy, helps me sort through all of life’s crap, and refocuses me. In a nutshell, I need running.
I hope this might inspire some people to take up running even if only to see if they like it. It’s not for everyone nor do I claim that various other activities wont keep you healthy. It’s just my personal favorite. If you do try it and haven’t before or even love running too, leave me a comment, I would love to hear about it!
UPDATE: I didn’t stress it in the above paragraphs, but my girlfriend at the time when I started running deserves a lot of credit. She is the one that pushed me into it and allowed me to discover the joys of running. I am very grateful for that so, thank you.