My oldest brother, an avid runner, sent me a blog post last week from the British publication, the Guardian, called “Why We Love to Run”. (Read it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/the-running-blog/2013/feb/05/why-we-love-to-run)
Just over a week away from the Race on the Base, it is a good day to ask ourselves that question. Why, indeed?
The blog post said we love to run because it’s a natural urge. We did it freely when we were kids because it was fun. As adults, we find reasons to justify running again. Also, we love to run because it is a primal instinct; it connects us to nature, and at the same time disconnects us from everything else. And finally, running connects us to ourselves and brings peace. We love to run because we love the Zen.
Maybe you agree with a few of those insights. Maybe you don’t. We all love to run for all the different reasons. For me, it was definitely the joy.
This is my 6th update as the Face of the Race, and you probably notice that I still whine about running. With this much complaining, how could one say she love to run? How is this joyous? To answer that, we’ll have to go back many, many years.
Growing up in Bangkok, Thailand, I was a sprinter. The tiniest and fastest girl in class up through 6th grade. 50-meter dash was my event. I could sprint up and down that stretch of my school’s field all day long and beat just about anybody. At that time, if given the chance, I’d sprint ANYWHERE. I just loved the speed, the rush of the wind, and the pounding of my heart.
In my submission for the Face of the Race contest, I said that I started running to find self worth and a sense of accomplishment. While that is true, I didn’t realize until now that the real reason why I run is because deep down I still love to sprint.
The blog post also said, “I remember, as a keen runner in my youth, constantly correcting people who asked me if I was running to get fit. “No,” I would say. “I’m getting fit to run.'”
Apparently, that’s exactly what I have been doing—subconsciously. I was getting in shape so that I could sprint again. A part of me loves to run because it’s the opposite of the slow march toward the pit of despair that was my soul-crushing unemployment. But most of me loves to run because it just makes me happy.
Without knowing it, I’m trying to get back to my favorite activity of my youth to experience that complete and utter joy. The one that makes me giggle when I cross the finish line.
After all these months of “training”, I’m barely making 14-minute-mile pace. And while I do love to run, I still can’t say that I love going the distance. The first mile, I feel like Wonder Woman. The second mile, I force myself to keep going and all the while hate myself for encouraging myself to keep going. (Totally meta, I know. My brain gets really weird on the run.) The last mile, though, I would start to feel like Wonder Woman again.
And then, a block or so from home, with every ounce of energy I have left, I would sprint until I could no longer feel my limbs or catch my breath.
And I would giggle.