Hey y'all. This is part 2 of a series about how running is a beautiful metaphor for life (and anyone who's had half a conversation with me knows how much I love a good metaphor...)
5K in Charleston, January 2009
Everyone has a different reason to run.
I read this article in Runner's World about Kara Goucher. She has more money than Jay-Z and apparently an entourage to rival his, too: her husband is a trainer, she's got all-star coach Alberto Salazar, specialists in a variety of fields, a sports therapist, more equipment than it takes to climb Everest and more data about herself than all of the Apollo missions put together. She uses a thermal vest, for example, to increase her core temperature before a race so that she's already warmed up when the gun goes off. Now some folks will say, "Good for her, that's smart." I ain't one of 'em.
Because she and I run for very different reasons. Obvi, I know. She's a pro. It's her livelihood and whatever it takes to be the best is what she needs. I'm a weekend warrior. I run 3 times a week, if I'm lucky, and race once a month if I can. I have a stop watch that I use to figure my mile averages, but I don't really even pay attention to my mile splits unless I'm racing. Suffice it say, if we were a pair of sneakers, you just couldn't run in us together.
I later read this article about Ryan Hall. Now there's a runner I could talk to. This boy literally started running one day because he felt like God was telling him to do it. When he toes the line at a race, his whole family is praying for one thing: that the entire field of runners cross the line safely. Not a win. Not a paycheck. Safety. Bless their hearts. When he's running, he's praying. I can dig that.
But we certainly have our differences as well. Here again, he's a professional. (And he can run a marathon in less time than I can run a half, but that's just numbers.) And he does care about splits and time and performance as much as any professional should.
I think it's the reason that dictates the way we run. After some time (and age and maturity, I hope), I think I understand Kara Goucher a little better. This article helped, too. And I see that Ryan Hall has his own set of equipment and data. I could disagree with every runner out there, and it wouldn't accomplish anything.
As I said last week, I run to prove to myself that I can. (I get it, Kara, I really do!) I run to clear my head, to think, to be alone, to be with a friend, to pray, to listen, to sing, to daydream. I run to feel my body working. And if it's working, I don't care so much about how quickly it does so. Would I like to run a sub-2 hour half marathon? Absolutely. Do I want to place in my age-group someday? Of course, but it may have to wait until I'm 60. Am I interested in qualifying for Boston? Heck yes, and I don't plan to run it until I can. But I might not do those things. And that'll be okay for me.
For others, it might not be okay. What I've learned is that that is okay, too. Do you geek out with your Garmin and log every piece of data you can find on yourself? More power to ya! You want to be the fastest runner you can be? Good for you! Are you trying to beat your younger brother in a foot race? Knock his socks off! (And knock my brothers' socks off, too, if you would, because I certainly never will!)
The end result of all of these reasons is a group of people with healthy bodies. Runners usually eat quite well, because running sure doesn't feel good if you don't. While heart attacks can happen in a road race, generally runners have great heart health. And have you ever been smoked by a man twice your age in a race? I have, and I'm so proud of those gentlemen every time. Running is healthy, no matter why you do it.
So, tell me. Why do you run?