Friday, February 15, 2008

Why?

Run, run, run. It seems that running has literally taken over my life lately. And I’m sure most of you think I’m absolutely crazy. Not too long ago, I would have agreed. All the time I hear from people that they just don’t understand. The most frequent comment I get when I tell people I’m training for a marathon is "Why?" Why put yourself through the pain, the sacrifice, the blisters, and the fatigue? There’s just something about running that non-runners don’t get. But to me, running is unbelievably amazing! You don’t have to be good at it - you don’t have to be fast. I recently read a quote from runner Kristen Armstrong from an article she wrote for Runner's World that summed up a lot of how I feel about running (slightly modified):

"…Something else entered my mind as I grunted through the final miles to finish 4 minutes slower than my PR. Something between gratitude and epiphany on the realization scale. I realized that I am out here, most days of every week, pursuing something that does not come naturally or easily to me. And I have been doing this for 5 years. Never in my life, before running, did I ever push hard after something that did not rank high on the list of things that come easily to me. I have always aspired to/excelled at things that I was already good at. This probably stems from fear, pride, laziness or some perfection compulsion. But running isn't like that for me. It's hard for me. I struggle. I suffer. I get discouraged. I get mad. I celebrate, sometimes. And when I chase after a zippy friend, it's not because I suck, it's because they don't. It isn't [a natural passion] of mine, and that is okay with me, because I love it anyway. I love it the way you love a rivalrous sibling, deep tissue massage, a session with your therapist, giving birth, or a big fight with someone you love. It doesn't always feel good in the moment, but ultimately you are a better person for it. So I may not always run the way I want to run, race the way I imagine myself racing, and my performance outside may only rarely reflect the runner on the inside, but there is a certain endurance rush reserved for those of us who have to work extra hard just to stand on the start line and dream."

I could never explain the "Why?" of running or how it’s changed my life. So, I’ll let Madeline explain it. Although I have yet to met her, Madeline is the younger sister of my good friend Alice. Alice and I met in law school and she is my running hero and guru. Madeline is a student at Xavier University and will be running the Chicago Marathon with Alice and the rest of their family in October.

Madeline’s New Cure-all Elixir
By: Madeline LaFave

What if I told you that I was using a miracle drug that can remedy obesity, depression, drug addiction, smoker’s lung, sleep troubles and many other impediments affecting your daily life? What if I told you that this drug can get you high, make you happy, improve your academic and social life and make your body run like a machine? And what if I told you that this drug was free and legal? Would you do it?

My name is Madeline and I am mild-to-moderately addicted to running. I come from a family of non-runners. Athletes, yes, but none of us have the lean, bony, fatless body that typical runners have. My siblings and I stuck to contact sports in high school, and all four of us began running in college to stay in shape. All three siblings have completed at least one marathon, including my brother who qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon.

I began running half-marathons my freshman year of college, and four or five later, I am ready to train for my first full. I quickly found out that running is neither easy nor boring, as I had once perceived it to be in high school, yet it has the potential to be the most energizing, spiritual, relaxing or challenging part of my day. My self-esteem and confidence sky-rocket during marathon training.My life changed drastically when I committed myself to the sport, and I have an intense desire to share this passion with others.

To those of you who feel unworthy of this miracle drug, I address you specifically.

For the over-stressed and over-worked: Studies have shown that distance running does wonders on the brain. Anxieties become mere annoyances on a run and are put out of the mind. Running provides the perfect mental environment to work out problems. It is one of the most efficient workouts for the schedule-oriented, giving you solid exercise in the least amount of time. Making time for this daily run will force you to improve time-management skills, therefore time is utilized more effectively.

For the smokers: It has been proven that even smokers can recover full lung potential through running. What an awesome gift. There is about 50 percent unused lung potential that can be utilized when running.

For the drug-users: There’s a well-known phenomena in the runner world called the "runner’s high." The runner’s high occurs when the natural chemical Anandamide crosses the blood-brain barrier, creating feelings commonly associated with those of Tetrahydrocannabinol—feelings of euphoria, relaxation and cessation of pain. Last week I spoke with a professional who described the runner’s high as similar to the endorphin high of heroin.

Finally, for the scared: If you have a desire to begin running, that is the first step. The hardest part is getting out the door. Throw on some athletic clothes and shoes and run up and down campus a few times if that is what fatigues you at first. Read up on tips for beginning runners online, head to the gym and try it out on a treadmill or enlist a friend to try it with you. The main thing is to get started and later you can define your goals more clearly.

So drug-addicts, smokers, fatties, skinnies, downers and normal people unite! Try out my drug to solve nearly any problem. Come on, everybody’s doing it!

2 comments:

  1. Madeline definitely has the right idea! This running obsession is awesome! AND we get to keep buying $$ shoes!

    :D

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  2. Thanks for those gems of purpose, Sara. I needed that about now as I was questioning the rationale myself this past week.

    ReplyDelete