Thursday, August 23, 2012

Why I Run

I've been running for about..two years now? And it's been a pretty grim experience. I know in life we truck along with things we hate because we feel like we have to (work, paying rent, dieting, whatever), and we make the best of it.

To willingly participate in something that's so time-consuming and energy-sucking, without having an identifiable reward feels insane. We all have too much of that shit already going on in life.

But, I keep going. There's something to it, I know it. Even though I'm tired and broken and annoyed right now. There's something.

Fast forward to July of this year. Over the past few weeks, I've been reading THIS BOOK about ultra-runners and running science and minimalist shoes, etc etc etc.

So, between reading this book, and just...existing the past couple of months, I've started asking myself *why* I run. Why bother? I was finally searching for an honest answer from myself. I've learned in life that no habit is sustainable if you can't really internalize your reasons for doing it. You eventually move on. Even if they are totally shitty superficial reasons, at least you've embraced that truth. And your truth, whatever it is, is what keeps you going, or finally sets you free from it.

Once I read this, I started crying at my desk. Which probably means I stumbled on a truth somewhere...

"The reason we race isn't so much to beat each other, he understood, but to be with each other...He was no good and had no reason to believe he ever would be, but the joy he got from running was the joy of adding his power to the pack. Other runners try to dissociate from the fatigue by blasting iPods or imagining the roar of the crowd in Olympic Stadium, but Scott had a simpler method: it's easier to get outside yourself when you're thinking about someone else."

In that instant, I had my answer.

Why do I run?

1) Because I can, bitches!

2) Because what a community I've participated in this whole time! And what a community I've *created* in this time!

As soon as I'm done with a run, what happens? I immediately tell someone/everyone about it. And it's been a wonderful (sometimes embarrassing) experience to share with people. I'm learning that talking to people about it generates new energy for it, new conversations, new techniques, new aspirations, new ideas...we're in a constant process of finding new things to talk about and learn from and build from. I'm inspiring others, and they are inspiring me, and it's

That's pretty damn cool.

What also made me a little weepy was the acknowledgement that he used the preposition "with." It's a joint participation in the activity. And "with" can mean side-by-side on the track with someone, or just in spirit, or yelling about it on Facebook after the fact. It's not "for" other people. You participate to be part of something bigger than yourself, but also INCLUDE yourself. It's not "instead of," either.

Another thing happened, too.

Once I had that 'aha!' moment, once I knew that I was part of a community of ridiculousness, I finally had the freedom to admit that I just kinda suck at running, and that it's OK.

It's not worth pushing myself so much that I'm just miserable the whole time; I'm part of this community no matter what my running is like.

It's not worth pushing for paces I can't make, or miles I'll never see, or the goals of people who aren't me.

At least not right now. And that's perfect.

The grace I've given myself to just completely suck will be what I need to keep going. What a relief to lose those expectations and gain an activity I can just do for fun. For me. With my friends, and my friends with me.

So, how's your running?

Wanna run with me at the horse fountain track sometime?

-C McG

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