I ran 6 miles on the treadmill last night while watching my new favorite show; My Own Worst Enemy. I also did some "movement prep" exercises from Core Performance. These are basically stretching/balance exercises.
Since not much is going on, I thought I'd post an article I wrote recently on the things I love about running. Since it's for the next MDRA issue, which is a family magazine, I decided to keep the article clean. If I remember in the next few days, I'll post the things I left out, like how running is better than sex.
I Love Running...
Running is the simplest of sports. For the most part, all you need is a shirt, shorts and a pair of shoes. Then just head out the door and put one foot in front of the other and repeat over and over. While the act of running is quite similar for all of us, the reasons we run can vary quite dramatically. I’ve been at this sport for nearly 30 years now and recently I was wondering why I’ve kept at it for so long. What keeps me motivated to lace up my shoes and step out the door? Quite simply, what do I love about running?
One of the easy answers is that running keeps me fit – fit enough to wear the same 30” x 30” sized pants I wore in high school. I had my 20-year reunion last year and let’s just say no one else could make that same claim. As I reminisced with my old classmates, I was reminded of why the local 35-year old and over basketball league was called the Potbelly League – because a potbelly is practically a prerequisite to join.
While running has always kept me fit, that wasn’t really on my mind as a 92-pound freshman in high school. When you’re that size, you don’t really think about staying in shape. Instead, I was more concerned with finding a sport that allowed me to get off the bench and actually participate. All these years later, racing still allows me to “get off the bench” and test my competitive juices practically any weekend of the year. I don’t think the same can be said for the more traditional jocks from high school who now find themselves forty-something. They have far fewer opportunities to compete. It’s not like there are a lot of full-pad football leagues for guys my age.
As I watched the Olympics this summer, two things stood out and reminded me why I love running. First, we don’t have any judges. Any sport with a judge always seems very frustrating for everyone involved. I’m so happy that I’m not a gymnast, diver, synchronized swimmer, figure skater or in any other sport with a judge. Our judge is the stopwatch and it doesn’t lie or cheat. Second, there aren’t any timeouts during a race. Our coach can’t stop the action in an effort to strategize or regroup. When things get tough near the end of a race, we have to think for ourselves and have the resolve to push ourselves to the finish.
Another great thing that I love about running is that it gives me my best opportunity to think during the day. Seriously, I can’t think of any other time during the day when I have an hour to myself – just me and my thoughts. While I’m not solving the world’s problems during these runs, I’m sure my mental health is much better because of them. And if I don’t feel like thinking, I’ll listen to my iPod instead. Normally a traditionalist when it comes to running, I do like to listen to music once in awhile because, with two young girls at home, it’s practically my only opportunity to listen to music other than Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers.
Finally, and most importantly, I love running because of all the great people I’ve met along the way. As Jared Mondry told me recently, “I have long known what the most meaningful things in life are and they have nothing to do with material acquisitions, status, etc. It is the friendships and relationships we develop along the road.” I can’t think of another sport, activity or situation where I’ve developed relationships more quickly than I have through running. After a summer of weekly long runs together, I know my running partners better than people I’ve worked with for four years. I think Bob Dylan touches on the answer why in Brownsville Girl, “[It’s] Strange how people who suffer together have stronger connections than people who are most content.” Suffering together along the river roads or around the lakes has a way of bringing us closer together.
Even the simplest of sports can have lots of reasons for loving it. Whether it’s to stay fit, fuel your competitive juices, get lost in thought, develop new friendships or something else all together, I encourage you to spend your next run thinking about why you love it.