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.
I did something a little different this morning. I decided to take my camera with me on my run. I didn’t take it with me so that I could shoot pictures of all the crazy animals I encounter on my runs, though I did take a picture of my favorite three-legged/toothless black lab that likes to chase me. No, I brought the camera for a different reason.
I have written trashy columns in the past, and tried to add a touch of humor to the fact that Sadieville has a littering problem. This may be the trashiest column yet. I brought the camera to take pictures of what I get to see every day when I go for my run: trash.
I’ve been letting it get to me lately. My runs are supposed to make me feel refreshed and new but lately they are making me ill. Every time I see all the trash I want to puke. So as a form of therapy, I brought my camera to document the run. I will decide what to do with the pictures later.
So I am running along, stopping to take pictures of the worst ditches. I snap a shot of the couch and scattered cushions along the creek, the garbage piled near an underground drainage pipe, capture a few tires…and then I see it.
It sat there in the distance along the road like a tidy little Christmas gift. As I approached I snapped a few pictures, making sure you could see WAL-MART written on the side. When I reached it I looked down and shook my head. It was another trash bomb.
I am skeptical of anyone who has a clean car because I fear they are a ‘trash bomber’. You know, one of those litter-pigs (‘litterbug’ is too pretty sounding) that gathers all the trash from their car, puts it in a plastic bag, ties it in a knot and tosses it out their window as they drive.
I ran past the trash bomb, disgusted. But then I changed my mind. I decided to dissect the little bomb just to see what they tossed out. As I untied the knot I could feel my heart jumping a little as I realized there was junk-mail in the bag. I pulled out a letter from Dish Network and noticed the address of the recipient. I set the letter on top of the bag and took another picture so you could read the address. Then I put it back in the bag and tied it.
I took a picture of me holding the bag and smiling. Then I started running down the road and snapped another picture of my hand holding the bag as I ran. I was really getting into the ‘documentation’ side of my run.
As I passed mailboxes I made note of their address. I felt light on my feet as I approached each mailbox, knowing I was getting closer.
What I did next was illegal, and unless you can get ahold of my camera you have no proof that I did it. I will tell you that the pictures tell the whole story. I can tell you this: when the judge interrogates me about what I was doing it will probably go something like this:
Judge: “Mrs. Strong, you say you were running down the road?”
Me: “Yes, sir.”
Judge: “And you found someone’s mail on the side of the road?”
Me: “Yes, Sir!”
Judge: “And what did you do next?”
Me: “I returned the mail to the owner.”
Judge: “Did you take it up to the house and hand it to them?”
Me: “No Sir, I shoved it in their mailbox.”
End of Story.