Tell me why do you run?
Runners are a bit different than most folks. The healthiest group of injured people in the world is how I often refer to others like myself. Some people run but they are not 'runners'. For some of us it truly defines us. We think of ourselves as runners first and foremost. Friends who haven't seen me in years have often started conversations with the query 'are you still running'? Before they ask how I am, before they ask about my family, they ask if I am still running.
But now 40 years into my running life, having started in high school, the questions are increasingly of a different tone, 'you're still running....why?' And truly it is hard to explain to anyone who is not a member of this fraternity. Even my wife does not 'get it'. She just watches me limp all too frequently and groan as I get out of bed and wonder what the hell is wrong with me.
In my younger days I was very good. I wasn't quite good enough to be winning the races but I was always near the top. And running was easy, I mean EASY! Throw on the shoes and fly out the door. No stretching, just the steady pace of my feet hitting the ground. Cruising along, feeling like I could run as fast as I wanted. It was awesome but I didn't realize just how special those days were. I surely did not appreciate what my legs, my body, my lungs were capable of.
Now many years later I appreciate it. How I would love to get those days back just for a little bit. Over the years my thoughts of running changed. In the beginning and over the first 20 years competition was at the heart of my running. But things never remain the same. Your body begins to change, your life becomes busier with more responsibilities and the love of running changes from serious competition to remaining competitive with the guys your own age. Running becomes more about staying healthy and in shape. And now a new kind of love for running develops because running gives you time to clear your head, to relax, to fantasize to solve problems. It becomes a special time of which you are increasingly protective.
The problem is that your body becomes more and more resistant to your desires. There are days you don't feel like going out. It hurts too much to run so slowly. You remember many years ago saying anyone who can't run faster than 8 minutes per mile isn't a runner. Now you shake your head at the knowledge that by your own definition you aren't a runner most days you go out. Stubbornly you continue to drag yourself out every other day noting how much worse you feel on a cold and damp day. But you keep doing it because on some days something magical happens. Some days you really loosen up and many of the aches and pains become less noticeable or even disappear altogether. Some days your legs seem lighter and you run faster without trying. The funny thing is, you're running at a pace you once would have considered pathetic. But it feels FAST and on those days you feel young again. Memories from so many years ago seem fresh once more and you are happy in a way you can't explain to a non runner. Days like that recharge you for all the tough days. I don't know of another feeling like it and I will chase it as long as my body allows.