Swim, Bike, Run?

I was never much of a runner in high school or college.  In fact, the only running I did was that required of me by whichever sport was in season.  I especially hated long distances.  I remember one particular instance where I was busted at a baseball tournament for breaking curfew and having to run for basically an entire practice carrying a 45 pound weight.  One of the worst experiences ever and it certainly didn’t endear running to me.  I saw it as a (barely) necessary evil at best and a punishment at worst.

I remember instances of enjoying running.  I spent college summers in Missouri working at Kanakuk Kamps, and would run in the mornings with friends along the mountain roads.  The scenery and the company showed me that running could be fun.

Despite those glimpses of the joy of running, it never became a high priority for me.  After college it was worse.  I don’t remember any point when I ran regularly.  At best I did a short elliptical workout after lifting weights.  The only time I participated in a run was in a relay race from the Dead Sea in Jordan to the Red Sea (the Dead to Red).  It was 250 Km and was a beast of a run, especially for someone who had no base training.

What has changed now?  As I mentioned in a post, the first year of law school wasn’t kind to my physical or mental health and, other than making sure I was keeping up with my law school reading, I had no discipline.  I was overweight in a way I had never been in my life.  I wanted to make a change, so I started running and working out again.

As I ran my first half, I really started to think about why I was running.  When you run for over two hours, you have time to think, especially when you aren’t listening to music.

In “Born to Run,” Chris McDougall talks about why people run.  He says that some people are running from their demons while others run for the physical benefits and others still run simply for the joy of the run.  I fall somewhere in the middle of all three.  I am undeniably running because of the physical benefit.  I love feeling more healthy.  I love that I am inching closer to my weight in high school.  I have also found the joy of running.  I love listening to the sound of my feet on the road.  I love the camaraderie you have with other runners.  But, truth be told, a part of my running is running from my demons.  I guess there is a part of me that has always been a runner.  While I am more of a “dig my heels in” sort of guy, there’s a part of me that recognizes that the easier thing is to run.  During White Rock, I realized that my runs are laced with the hope that, if I run far enough or fast enough, I can get away from all the crap (realizing that the problem is internal and the old maxim “wherever you go, there you are”).

In the end, I don’t know that one reason for running is better than another, but I do think that some will carry you farther than others.  I think the run will show you why you are really running.  Maybe you find liberation in the run, where the distance, difficulty, or duration burns away those superficial motivations and leaves you with a more honest view of yourself.

Either way, I’m running.  I’ll keep running until I can’t.  I’ll get in better shape.  I’ll enjoy it more.  And maybe, by speed or illumination, I’ll beat my demons.

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