If you know me at all, or follow me on social media, you know that I love to run. Let me say up front, I am no Olympic athlete. I have never run a marathon, and in the past my running schedule has been sporadic at best. I have run several 5ks, a few 10ks, but mostly I love to go for a 30 minute jaunt around the park or my neighborhood, giving this desperate introvert a much needed break from parenting and homeschooling 4 children! Running clears my head. It gives me time to recalibrate, to think and focus, meditate or pray. Another bonus: I get to listen to my music of choice, uninterrupted. That might not seem like such a big deal to some, but for me it is a rarity these days. A daily dose of Vitamin D from some good old-fashioned sunshine (remember that stuff?), along with some fresh air (that too?), can help me rise above and transcend whatever problems I may be facing. I feel capable. Strong. Healthy.
My love of running began while I was in high school. My dad is a runner, and I watched him prioritize running throughout the years, from jogs in his free time to participating in various races, including the Detroit Marathon. For quality father/daughter time we often ran together around the high school track. My dad and I share a lot of similar passions in life, and pounding our feet on the pavement is definitely one of them. I didn’t appreciate running then as much as I do now. I didn’t really take it that seriously. I wish I had, because I think it would have really made an impact early on in my life. My family history is one filled with tough battles, fought and overcome. Running is one way that my dad and I have both conquered some ugly personal demons.
I understand that running is not everyone’s cup of tea. Maybe you feel about running the way I do about swimming, which is definitely my least favorite form of exercise. Let me put it this way: I do not enjoy any strenuous activity that involves periods of HOLDING MY BREATH. This also explains why, if I must swim, I enthusiastically over utilize the backstroke. My husband was a swimmer in his younger years, and to this day, it remains his exercise of choice. It’s probably also the major reason our children participate on the swim team every summer. That and they truly do love it. But it’s definitely not my favorite sport. I faithfully cheer them on from the sidelines.
All that to say, I truly understand that there are many out there, for one reason or another, that don’t “get” running. For you, it’s torture. And I certainly don’t advise that just anybody get up off the couch after reading this and run two miles, especially if you have never done it before and haven’t conditioned yourself to do it in the first place. It does take some getting used to, for sure. However, that being said, I think that more people are capable of running than they think they are. Also, our ideas about running are often wrong, and that may be what’s actually keeping us from getting out there and doing it. For instance, anyone can get out and start walking. We are biologically engineered to be able to walk several miles a day. But most of us aren’t doing even that. Here is something you can try: Next time you take a walk around your neighborhood, just pick up into a gentle trot for about 20 seconds. That’s it. Then take a break and keep walking. And if it isn’t completely horrible, do it again in another couple minutes! The problem is, most people just assume that they will hate it without even trying. If you try it and hate it, then you can legitimately tell me “I told you so!”
What I simply do not understand is the person who scoffs at other people who run. Chad Stafko, over at the WSJ, apparently has that particular axe to grind. And maybe, like Chad, you are annoyed when you see someone’s time/distance running stats pop up on your news feed. And if that’s the case, I am truly sorry. I am sorry that you are following me to begin with, and that you think I should care that you’re annoyed. Let me let you in on a little something, I am not posting them for you. I am posting them with the hope that maybe someone else will be inspired, someone who has maybe never tried running before. Someone who might be struggling with their health. Someone who might be wrestling with depression, and needs that boost of serotonin to get them through the day. Besides, which would you rather see…my running stats or my political rants? Suddenly the running stats don’t seem so awful!
You see, we runners all have a story. And I am one of those crazy people that “like” and cheer for other runners when I see their stats. I like seeing those stats in my news feed. I get excited when I see someone else getting out there and doing it. I am genuinely happy for them. It makes me want to get out there and join them. I am excited for them because I can feel what they are feeling. I can feel the adrenaline, the rush, the power of getting off your butt and doing something AMAZING with our bodies. What I find absolutely astonishing is that ANYONE would lambast an entire group of people for doing something HEALTHY! What kind of a crazy world is this?!? In a world of rampant cancer, diabetes, and obesity, people who run (or walk, or swim, or bike, etc.) are being proactive about their health. And by sharing their stats, maybe they are simply inviting others to join them to take charge. I share my stats for that reason alone. I don’t do it to brag. Seriously, have you seen my times?! Right now I am running over a 10-minute mile, certainly nothing to brag about.
Mario Fraioli offered a beautiful, inspired response to Mr. Stafko’s article, so I won’t spend any more time on that issue. You should seriously go read the article, whether you love running, and the former article made you mad, or whether you never run at all. It may give you a glimpse into the crazy mind of a runner. Or maybe this will help. It’s a clip from one of my all-time favorite movies. Yep. You guessed it. Chariots of Fire.
*sniff* Gets me every time.
Call me crazy, but that’s how I feel when I run. When I run, I feel God’s pleasure. Your reasons for running may be completely different from mine, but I can honestly say that it is just something I was born to do. I don’t know why. I know I will never win a gold medal. I don’t do it for the praises or accolades. I do it for the way it makes me feel. I do it because I. JUST. FREAKING. LOVE. IT. So much. So the next time you feel a little annoyed by someone’s run stats, just pass over it. Hide it from your news feed. It won’t hurt my feelings. I am a big girl, I can take it. Or better yet, why don’t you take my stats, get out on the road and try to outrun them? Who knows? You might even LIKE it!
That’s why I have officially signed up for my first half marathon in February 2014! I am running in the Xterra Thrill in The Hills half marathon sponsored by Dirty Spokes Productions. And now that I have gone public with it, you all can help keep me accountable. And you better BELIEVE that I will be slapping that white oval 13.1 on the back on my car when I finish, and posting my stats along the way!