When I tell people I’m a runner, they always ask me “why?” It’s funny because I had a similar reaction until I really immersed myself in the sport.
See, my dad is a runner. He’s been running as far back as I can remember. To this day, random people will come up to me and tell me how they saw my dad running here or there. The locations always vary, but typically they’d spot him in neighboring town anywhere from 10-20 miles from where we live. They were always impressed, sometimes shocked that someone could run that long. Being an athlete, his jaunts didn’t so much shock me, but I never understood why he ran so much until recently.
I’ve always been an athlete, but more oriented towards “team” sports. Many memories growing up involved some basketball court or a baseball diamond or a soccer pitch, even well into college. My sophmore year of college I finally gave up the dream of being the “first female…” and concentrated on my studies. I did stay active, hit the gym and played intrumurals whenever I could.
After graduation I was in a rut. I wasn’t content just going to the gym to zone out on an ellipitcal, I needed something more. I missed the adreneline that came with sports, that post game/workout high. Most of all, I missed the competiveness, not necessarily against an opponent, but moreso, against myself.
I decided to give running a chance. I headed indoors and ran on our old tredmill in the basement. Each night I’d work on distance, logging miles in my “runner’s journal.” For me it wasn’t about speed, it was about pushing myself to the brink of exahustion. To me there was no greater feeling then the post run high, but I needed more.
So, I decided to test my endurance by pounding the pavement with my dad. He’s slowed a few steps since his last two knee surgeries, but still can run for miles once he gets going. I discovered a lot about myself by running with my dad on our “long runs” on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the time we didn’t talk while running, just kept our strides, occasionally he’d give me breathing techniques or footwork tips. While out one day I asked him “why he runs?” He told me it was to clear his mind. Running was the only time that no one could interfere. In all his wisdom, he told me that running provides a different outlet for everyone — and you have to find your own.
It took me a while, but I found it. Running is a great stress relief for me as it allows me to work out the day’s problem while sweating. To me, there’s nothing quite like a post run high — that feeling of accomplishment when you hit that extra mile mark or scale that hill that looked like a mountain when your legs are wobbling and fatigued. You find out a lot about your character when you’re out there alone and it’s your mind vs. your body. Or, as another fellow runner said, “I never felt worse after a run than I did before it.”