In high school I thought that people on the cross country team were just insane. Not even crazy, but full on insane. The track kids I could understand. They ran as fast as they could a relatively short distance. I still felt like this was a waste of time. I was the type of kid you’d find in a band uniform marching with a trombone. Now that’s exercise 🙂 But this whole deal about running, well, those kids must have been gluttons for punishment or something. Running long distances? Running through fields? This was sheer madness to me. Geez. What was the deal with these crazy people?
In college I decided to join the Marines. Yep, the Marines. First I had decided to join the Peace Corps, but then I decided to join the Marines. If you’re thinking that sounds weird, you’re probably right. But to me it made sense. So I started running two miles a day. Two punishing, hateful miles a day. I also took a swimming class twice a week and a weight lifting class three times a week (one of only three girls in the class, which is surprising, because women could really benefit from weight lifting). I was dedicated to getting myself into top condition, because I wanted to be an officer in the Marine Corps. Well, then after college, I was informed that due to my hearing (I’m 75% deaf in my left ear), I was not eligible for the Marine Corps officer program. Sigh.
So, fast forward to after I got married and had my second daughter. I told my brother (a truly amazing athlete, he runs ultras and even has shoe endorsements) to put together a training program for a race one year at Thanksgiving. So he decided to train me for my first marathon (which also happened to be my first race). He told me to start out slow. Really slow. Just get down two miles, then three, then five, and so on. It was very easy in the beginning. I felt like I could run forever, and I actually liked it. I thought about running differently, and I started to enjoy the accomplishment of each mile logged.
I like running now, because it’s a great way to escape from all the things that keep us from enjoying our lives. When you run, you can leave behind the stress of the day, or you can find new ways to think about a problem. You can clear your mind of everything and just feel the ground beneath your feet and the air filling your lungs, or you can let your creative juices flow. You are truly free. Go out for a run (or a walk) and you will find that the only thing that matters in that time is being alive in that moment. No future worries, no past concerns, just you and the open road to be alive and feel the world around you.
Think back to childhood, and one of your first memories will be of an adult telling you to stop running. All children run. They run with joy, they run in fear, they run to their parents, they run in the playground, and they even run in the house. Running just happens with kids. We have to teach kids not to run (in buildings, around people with crutches, near traffic). But we unfortunately lose part of the joy of what it means to just run. To be free and playful, and just to express yourself with pure movement. Think about it. When you were a kid, didn’t it feel like you were soaring like a bird when you ran? Why can’t it be like that again? The answer is, it can. We just have to get in touch with what it means to enjoy and be free. To just live in the moment that you’re in. To be move and feel your body in it’s happiest state – motion.
‘Cause, baby, we’re all born to run.