Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I LOVE RUNNING

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.

5 comments:

MN Ultra Runner said...

Great article! I've always found it amazing how quickly runners build a deep camaraderie with one another.

Anonymous said...

Hey Chad, I thought I would share my marathon experience from a couple of days ago. As I compared my training to yours over the last few months it was quite clear that your training was superior to mine in almost every way. My mileage was in the 70-80 mpw range for a couple of months. I didn't do much specific hill work, but did have some fairly good speed sessions(1k repeats avg. 3:30 x 6 with 3 min. recov. for example - but not much tempo work). Three weeks ago I ran a half marathon in 1:27 and change.

So I thought I would test out my own advice and run the 1st half of my marathon in about 1:27:30. I could tell within the first few miles that I was going to have stomach/bathroom issues but stuck with the plan and actually came through the half right around 1:27. By mile 16 I had to make a pit stop and lost around 4 minutes. Up to that point I was only able to sip water and could not stomach any gels.

How did it turn out? I finished reasonably well. Even with a strong headwind and a huge blister I didn't have any miles over 8:00 minute pace. My time was 3:06 and change.

I went for it and didn't pay too high a price. My times from the marathon and half marathon qualify me for the NYC marathon as I recently turned 40.

All and all a good learning experience and I won't hesitate to go out hard again and I know it's only a matter of time before I pop a good one.


Take care,

Mark

ace bhattacharjya said...

Hi Simon,

Great post-- can't wait to read some of your other posts. I disagree about thinking and ipod listening being mutually exclusive-- sometimes it's easier to think when you're listening to an album you know by heart...

BTW, found you through Google Alerts for "core performance"-- thanks for the mention!

ace bhattacharjya said...

And Chad,

I apologize for calling you Simon. First time reader.

best,
ace

John Kynaston said...

Great post. I fully agree with your thoughts about being able to think while running. I've been injured for a few weeks and not able to run and the thing I've missed most is my thinking time.

Also as an ultra runner I love our long training runs with friends. When you are running for 5-6 hours you talk about all sorts of things and really get to know people well.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

John