I’m a runner. I ran in high school for a short period of time when I was going to Monterey High School. I went to 4 different high schools growing up so it was hard to get into anything for long enough to figure it all out. I remember wearing Reeboks, having shin splints, and having to soak my shins in an ice bath. The rest of the team would be running to Lover’s Point for a 7 mile run. I was trying to learn how to deal with the pain. There was not a coach that I connected with, no friends to give me pointers–perhaps about the right kind of shoes, and really no mentor. So at that point I decided that running was not fun, it was painful, and I just didn’t get it.
Flash forward to me at 29. I had a 2 year old kid. I was in school for my first degree at the University of Arkansas. I was standing at the top of The Hill–UofA is also known as The Hill because it is on a huge hill–contemplating whether to wait for the bus or run the 2 miles down the hill to my house. I ran, backpack and all. That was the first time I ever experienced the exhileration that comes only from running.
Endorphins are amazing. I can swim, bike, lift weights–no other sport gives me the same ‘high’ that running does.
I run for my mental health. In the winter time I get SAD if I don’t keep my cardio up. I run when I’m just normally sad. I have sobbed and wailed through many a run, grieving the many losses that come with this hard life we live. It has helped me to process those losses. I run when I’m angry or agitated with a situation (this is not a frequent occurrence, but it does happen), or when I’m just feeling pent up, or like I have an excess of energy and I need to blow off steam. I run to increase my happiness and sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I feel like, ‘if I can run 7 miles, man, I can handle anything today.’
I run for my physical health. My heart is happy I’m running, my lungs-especially in the wintertime-feel so expansive after a run, my endurance gets better the more I run. Physically, I’m in better shape because I run.
Sometimes I run for the community of it. I keep thinking I need to get out and ‘find my tribe.’ Part of me is a little intimidated about running with people. I’m not super competitive with my running. I stop and take pictures, catch my breath and walk if I want. I’m afraid I might be a bad running companion for others. Part of me is downright selfish about my running headspace and not really wanting to share that with others. It’s my flow, man. Don’t mess with my flow. If somebody else is there then it will be ‘our flow.’ I’m not sure I’m down for that. I should try it I’m sure. Maybe if I find my running tribe it will elevate my flow.
I run because trail running in the woods is beautiful and rejuvenating, and you never know what you will see.
I run for the practice. Running is a practice for me, like yoga or meditation. It is the practice of actively getting out of my comfort zone and overcoming. It is doing something because it is hard. It is being uncomfortable in order to feel better. It makes everything else so much easier. It is going out in 90 degree weather, sweat dripping into my eyes and mouth, one foot in front of the other, with gratitude that these are the challenges that I get to work with from day to day. It is going out in subfreezing temperatures that I abhor, welcoming that pain and discomfort with gratitude that I can still do this, that I can still conquer this and forget about the cold and discomfort in the middle of it all.
I am actively trying to diversify my exercise routine, do more swimming (I suck at swimming), more cycling. It might be easier for me to find my tribe with cycling. I’m not so stuck in my ways.
Ultimately, I run because it makes me feel alive. We only get the chance to be on the planet for a short while. I want to feel as good and alive as I can while I’m here, and running helps me do that.
Why do you run? Or what practices do you have that help you? And why do you do them?
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