Sure, there are times when you head out the door and toss a “honey, I’m just going for a run,” over your shoulder.
But a run is always more. An opportunity to spend an hour with all the guilty favourites on your iPod playlist. A chance to share complaints about IT bands and idiotic governments with a running buddy. A date with your inner track coach to see if you can shave a few seconds off that 400m time.
Most of what is written about running talks about fitness, about distance or speed goals, about losing weight. But we also strap on the shoes to explore, to celebrate, to compete, to relax, to live up to our own ideals of who we should be.
Sometimes, exercise is the last thing on your mind as you hit the trails to work out a problem from the office or ponder the hearing problems of teenagers.
And, of course, many times a run is an escape or excuse. If you take the dog for a run, your wonderful spouse just might clean up the kitchen.
Or you might hit the fresh air to blow off steam after heated words with your partner. Why hasn’t anyone started a couples counselling practice that twists the age-old advice to “sleep on it” with the much more effective “run on it?” Take those habitual arguments for a run and come back with a fresh perspective.
Yet the best runs are an escape into the world, not an escape from it. An escape into a real world of trees and trails, dirt and cloud, air and weather. Unfiltered, unmediated.
Even runs that start with no motive, no goal, no great significance, morph into opportunities, big and small. Your slow warm-up down the street is a chance to check the non-progress of a neighbour’s fence building project. (Interesting how the squirrels are making themselves at home in his slumping stack of lumber.)
Other runs start out as ‘nothing’ and mysteriously transform into a big deal. You might be striding along pretty well and soon you imagine yourself shoulder-to-shoulder with Ethiopian running legend Haile Gebrselassie. Today, you think, you could keep pace for 10 strides, 100, maybe more. For a handful of moments your lungs expand like an East African’s.
Some days, the run goes a different direction, off into a meditative rhythm. Your breaths, your footfalls, your heartbeats echo the pulse of the universe.
Even on the most mundane days, a run is a slice of life. There is no need to diminish it or call it “just” anything.
I have been running regularly now for about ten years. People sometimes enquire why I run. More often, the question is unspoken, or implied. “So… you like running?” I immediately think of a tune on my running playlists, Bonnie Raitt’s “Blue for No Reason”.
When I was a girl, my favorite thing
In the whole wide world
Was to see a field and
Run for no reason
And off I’d go, no one behind
Only earth below
Just a patch of green, green as the season
Don’t ask why, your feet just fly
Green and sky is all that you’re needin
Why ask why, when all that’s true
The sky is blue, blue for no reason.
When I’m asked why I run, I’m always tempted to answer, “Oh, for no reason.” It would be quicker than explaining that every run is a different run, each with its own reason for being.
My philosophy: you may not get out of this life alive but, at this moment, you are alive. Alive and running. This is good. This is important.
“Blue for No Reason” by Bonnie Raitt & Paul Brady, © Universal Music
“Lorne Daniel race photo” by Fleet Feet Photos
“Jogger_07-1109-003″ Jules.K @ flickr.com. Creative Commons. Some Rights Reserved.
Did you enjoy this article?
Please let the author know by leaving them a comment below!
And, subscribe to our free weekly digest!
Simply add your email below. A confirmation email will be sent to you.