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Why I Run

As the best running season is slowly enfolding, the season when the sky lightens while I am out there in the mornings, and the birds awaken and sing as my spirit awakens and sings, and I can feel the cool morning air against my arms and legs because I’m not bundled into layer upon layer of long clothing to keep out the chill. It’s magical. It’s invigorating. Everything in my neighborhood is flowering, renewing, and I am as well, when I run. Especially when I run in the spring.

I expect other runners will nod in agreement when I admit that running has that effect on me in any season. It’s why we run. It’s why I need to run. Running renews my sense of purpose, my sense of control and empowerment in my own life. I am filled with childlike hope and imagine – believe, even – that wonderful things are ahead. The light of day sparkles when I run. I become excited about life.

When I say I need to run I say it emphatically, without question. I can survive without it, of course, but it will be just that. Surviving. Existing. I have become dependent on the glow my day takes on, the feeling of exuberance that can be so fleeting, as we have become adults and march through life, getting “it” done. For me in particular, and I don’t believe I’m alone in this, the need transcends indulging in an endorphin-laced cocktail of wonderment and empowerment. For me, running also lifts me above a level where some can walk along, but mine is made of quicksand. I muddle along but invariably, I begin to sink into murky, moody dark places.

It all started in my early twenties, having since my teens been floundering in the the quicksand, but partying away the angst of living there. Then in my twenties, the partying didn’t work anymore. I was staring around me, and overcome by bleak, and the terrible sense of being alone in this, in my own head, in my quicksand.

My mother made a suggestion. She suggested I try running. What? Run? I was a smoker, a partier, and completely unmotivated to do anything, much less something athletic. I had never had any athletic talent whatsoever. How was I going to run?

I tried it, though. Thank fortune, I put on the running shoes, and I jogged one whole city block. That was all I could do. I could hardly breathe, just slowly jogging that short distance, which was a wake up call. But with that wake up call, I also felt my body and mind wake up a little. A clarity, a zing, a something happened. I tried it the next day, and the next. One day after I had slowly worked my way up to  three miles without dying and was religiously going that distance, my mother casually remarked that I might consider turning right, at the mile-and-a-half point, instead of turning back. She drew a map of a five mile loop for me. I was appalled. Five miles. Never going to happen! She said that one day I would just know I was ready to make that turn. To try to conquer that new, unfathomable challenge. I would just turn onto a new path.

She was right. I did it. And I’m still doing it. I know I can turn onto a new path, thanks to running. I know how I can do it. I just have to decide to. How can I live without this assurance that running bestows? I’m not sure I can. Lace up your shoes, fellow runners. I’ll see you out there. It’s spring, it’s a glorious time to run.

Imagine your life without running.  Running has a different effect on all of us.  Share with us what it means to you.


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