Recently my dad and I were running an 8k. At mile four, his brother was waiting to cheer us on. He jogged a long with us for a few minutes, recording an interview with his iPhone. Why do you run? He asked.
For my dad! Was my response. It’s his birthday run. And then we continued on our route and my uncle went on his way.
Yes, we did register for the particular race, which was held the day after his birthday and had a celebration afterwards in honor of his birthday. My boyfriend ran the half marathon. My nephew ran his first little kid run. And my dad and I ran the 8k together. I don’t really run for my dad; I run with him.
As a kid, I remember a running poster in our garage by my dad’s work bench. Why do I run? And a poem followed framed by cartoon runners. Maybe it is still hanging up there – I will have to check next time I am home. I remember reading it and reciting it and singing it as I snuck around the garage, looking for something to get into. But I never thought I would run.
Thirty-some races later and I guess could you say I am a runner. I don’t think I woke up one day and thought, “I’m going to be a runner!” After I quit dancing ballet professionally I did Pilates DVDs for my workouts. In fact, my last paycheck from performing went towards the purchase of a TV with a DVD player and a set of DVDs. As spring gave way I started walking and then added a little jog, gradually building up over time till I ran my first 5k that fall.
Running just kind of happened to me. But when I discovered it, it became a part of me and not something I want to give up. (So fluff off Dr. Quit-Running. See Unbreakable Spirit post. )
I have had decent runs, good runs, lots and lots of terrible runs, and a few spectacular runs. But I do it for me. And I listen to my body. If my knee hurts and I have to run a 12 minute mile, I will do it. I am not too proud to take care of myself. Yes, it will get forever etched in my mind as a horrible run, but next time can be better.
I have never experienced the runner’s high. Does that make me a fraud of a runner? I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon. And the chances that I would run a half marathon again are slim, but that’s ok. I’m still a runner.
Three miles, five miles, eight miles. Whatever it is you can escape all your stress and worries. Let real life be shed like snake skin and run. Sure, maybe it will drag along your ankles for a few steps or even a few miles, but eventually you will be able to shake it off.
There is a freedom, an escape, unlike any other.