Occasionally I am asked why I run. I have been accused of being a little obsessive about it. The answer is simple: to make me appreciate walking.
In a sentence; running makes my life more intense. While many people seek a numbness, to block out the routine of life, I run to make it more meaningful.
The slightly uncomfortable feeling of running just a little faster than your body would like to, makes the act of walking seem a little more heavenly. And the sense of accomplishment lingers long after the run has stopped. So as silly as it sounds, running makes you appreciate walking.
It also makes you appreciate bathing. There is nothing like a shower after a long run. There are no routine showers in a runner’s life. We don’t jump in and rinse off in order to wake up. We actually need a shower. We are sticky and stinky and either very hot or very cold. Stepping into a hot shower after a 20 degree winter run feels like a welcome hug from a long dead parent. And stepping into a cool shower after a 90 degree summer run feels like putting out a breathless fire. It’s intense. It’s real. It’s a good thing.
If you have ever been pregnant (and I guess I am just talking to the ladies right now), than you probably remember how good food tasted when you were seven months along. It was probably your body telling you to eat because you really needed the calories while making a human life. Well when you run, food tastes really good (as do certain ales). When you go out and burn 600 calories, your body needs fuel to repair the micro-tears in your muscles and replace lost calories. Eating is intense, it is deserved, it’s is a good thing.
And while many people suffer from insomnia, are plagued by sleepless nights and painful days because of it, runners tend to sleep hard and well. When I finally lay my body down on my bed at night I never fail to sigh out loud and pronounce my bed ‘the most comfortable bed in the world’. And then five minutes later I am sound asleep in heavenly bliss. I seldom ever lay awake and if I do it is only long enough for me to convince myself that we can discuss the persistent issue on the run in the morning.
While I once needed therapy… probably… a long time ago…, I don’t any more. As a matter of fact, I used to suffer from seasonal depression. Since I began running I have never felt better. I begin my day with an hour to myself where I focus on all of the pressing issues in my life. I organize my grocery list, my finances, and my future. I plan the kids’ school day, I bounce problems around until solved and I return with all the answers. There is something about the blood flow to your brain that makes thinking clearer and answers more attainable. Who needs therapy when I have running (and a run clubJ)?
Of course it’s not just running that does all these good things for me. Running has to share credit with biking, swimming, yoga and hiking. I would include my occasional weight workout but I haven’t learned to appreciate it yet. All it seems to do is make the other things more painful the next day.
As Lexington gets the label of being the laziest city in the country, I challenge Scott County to become more active. I encourage you to talk to your legislators, tell them you want more trails where you and your family can walk and run and bike safely. And until it actually happens let’s all get out and move. Go ahead and get uncomfortable because after all, it will help you appreciate the rest of your life.