Why Running?

Or alternate title: experience trumps medals 9 times out of 10.

So I’ve had a couple people ask me why I’m so into running. And since most runs are long enough to get some good thinking in, why not? For me, running is all about the experience.

Whether it’s the adrenaline rush of working your way through a pack during a race or the feeling of accomplishment that comes when you get back from an awesome run done all on your own, I love it all.

Days where I have to push through to get a run complete might not feel the best, but show strength of character by getting the work done. It may seem a little crazy to enjoy the days that suck, but it says something for each of us that we try. And if we have to cut a run short, we’ll still go back out the next day knowing that we’ll make it a better day. The idea that it is what you do when no one is watching—that you make the effort to lace up your shoes and get out the door.

Then there are days when everything seems perfect and you just fly through the miles. I’ll feel like I’m seriously floating, like I hardly feel my feet touching the ground. Only to realize that 5, 6, 7 miles have passed in a haze of happy running. Why shouldn’t that experience feel amazing?

gasparilla

One of my favorite medals from the 2012 Gasparilla Half Marathon.

I enjoy all forms of exercise, but rarely get that same runner’s high when I do things like bike or swim. This may be because I’m just not as refined in those sports as running (and I think I suck at them).

This seems a good time to write about this too. After the events at the Boston Marathon earlier this week, it’s only right to reaffirm why exactly we do this. Of all the races that occur, for many this is the Holy Grail of running; the standard we seek to achieve. One of my lifetime (running) goals is to  qualify for and run Boston. And that is one race where the finisher’s medal may hold a place of honor, but will never eclipse the feeling of running over Heartbreak Hill, past Fenway Park, and around that last corner down Boylston Street to the finish. Especially now. For those of us who take up endurance running, it’s not just a healthy choice or a phase. It’s a lifestyle. We define ourselves as runners.

But back to the intended topic. More than anything, I was a bit of a lost lamb when I was younger. I had things I wanted to do and directions I wanted to go, but they were all the standards of growing up. There was very little of me figured into those plans. So I truly believe I began to find myself through running. I was a runner before in high school, but not like the kind of runner I am now. Not just in the distances I do, but in the person I am and what running means to me.

I had to take those years off to be able to come back to running and appreciate it as a completely different person. The words below I believe to be a very apt description of my love for running—of the path I’ve traveled with running to reach the point at which I stand now.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. – T.S. Eliot

I’ll end with only a little more, playing off my alternate title. That one time where the medal trumps the experience? That’s only because that awesome medal will remind you of that amazing race experience.

miami

First marathon medal.

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