Asking a runner why they run is like asking a fish why it swims. It’s as if we just don’t know any better. But we do try to offer valid reasons for our obsessive-like behavior. Perhaps because we don’t expect people to understand when we tell them that running connects us to the earth in a way that no other form of meditation can. No, I suspect a non-runner wouldn’t get that. Instead, we offer other reasons: exercise, stress-relief, weight-loss, etc. – which are all legitimate reasons to get out there and run. Now, it is true that some runners don’t enjoy the sport, but I’d like to believe that many of us do. But what really drives us to get out there and put in the mileage each week can vary from person to person.
For me, running started out as a way to get in shape, lose weight, and relieve stress. I didn’t start out in high school like many runners, but rather in my early twenties. I had no idea that it would turn into a passion of mine; one that would later change my entire life (and diet). And I certainly didn’t expect for it to become habit-forming. But, today, there’s nothing you could do or say to keep me off of the road. That was until recently. A few weeks ago I developed drop food syndrome in my right leg. It wasn’t caused by my “extreme” running, but from sitting at my computer desk. Apparently, crossing your legs in just the right position can damage your peroneal nerve, forcing your foot to literally drop. The doctors told me to take it easy and rest. My first (and maybe only) question was: can I still run? The doctor (unknowing of my sincere love for running) said that I should give my leg time to repair itself. “Just don’t be running a marathon every week.” he said. So I made a point to bring my running back a notch. I knew it would drive me crazy not to run, but I wanted to be sure I didn’t injure myself permanently.
What is my point? I haven’t slowed down one bit since this injury. Sure, I may not be putting in quite as many miles, or running at the same pace, but I still get out about 5 days a week and hit the pavement for my daily dose of meditative therapy. I should also mention that I’m training for a marathon that takes place in just a couple of weeks. So I must ask myself again – what drives me to run?
I believe that it has become almost unnatural for me not to run. Like our ancestors of long ago, it has just become a part of my everyday life. Where some people see running as a form of exercise that they must force themselves to do, I see it as “me time”. It’s a time for me to reflect on my life and get away from the craziness of this fast-paced world. Although I understand the importance of rest after injury, I can’t stop myself from getting out and enjoying the calm of nature, beauty of sunsets and sunrises, and the peace I attain from concentrating on nothing but my own heartbeat; even if it’s the scaled back version.
So today I ask you – what drives you to run? Are you running as a means to lose weight, or is it a form of self-gratification? Which category do you fall in, and what do you enjoy most about putting in the miles each week?