Why do you run?This is a question I hear all of the time, so I figured I would actually try to answer this one. Do I run for fitness, do I run to prove something, do I run to make new friends, do I run to forget about life, or do I run to learn about life? The list could go on forever, but I am going to try to answer these as honestly as I can. This may be a long blog, and lets just get one thing out of the way before anyone judges me. I am not a writer, I do not excel in grammar or English of any type. I am a math and science guy, so if the errors in the English language bother you, stop reading now and go get a good book to read. With that said, here we go!
Do I Run for Fitness?
The answer to that is yes! When I lost baseball (we will get to that later) I went through a major life change. I think back to a Robert Frost poem here: The Road Not Taken.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as long as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth...
I first heard this poem in 8th grade and hated that I had to memorize it, I hated every second of it, but it sticks with me to this day! Back to the topic; I run for fitness simply because I chose the wrong road once in my life. Who am I kidding I chose that "wrong" road more than once in my life. After I was told that I should not play baseball again due to an injury, I chose a road. I chose a road that looked like a lot of fun. This road involved sex, drugs and rock and roll. Not trying to be cliche here, but its the truth. I loved this road, and followed it for many years.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there,
Had worn them really about the same....
Pretty much from the late 90's until I met Jenny in 2002, little did I know at the time that she was to become my savior, my strength and my reason for living. She was the one that got me back into running, and at the beginning it was for fitness. I quit smoking, everything, and ran a 3 mile run with her. Worried about my back problem and the fact that I use to smoke a pack and a half or more a day, I figured I would just do this with her as a way to improve my lungs and get a little fitness.
Do I Run to Prove Something?
Another yes! After I met Jenny and started getting a few miles under my belt I decided that I had something to prove. For those of you that don't know much about my sports life, I'll give you a little background. I really do not want to write much about this, it's still hard for me to talk about, but I'll say a little. I grew up with one love in my life, baseball! If you knew me as a child, you knew that I had one goal in life and that was to become a professional baseball player. I did everything that I could for this to happen and was on the path of making this dram come true when I had a fluke injury that pretty much ended that dream. With that said, I will move on to why I run to prove something. When I got injured I was told that if I kept trying as hard as I did from day to day that I would hurt myself worse and probably never get to where I was before my injury. Basically a lot of people told me to hang it up and find a new goal in life. I listened....
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden back,
Oh I kept the first for another day!
Oh I kept the first for another day. I hung up my cleats and as I said before, took the road that looked fun. When I came back to some kind of reality, I started running to prove something! First to prove that I could do a 5k (3.1 miles) then to do a Half Marathon (13.1 miles) then to do a full marathon (26.2 miles). I accomplished all of these goals, and now have my sights set on the big goal of the half (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) and full (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) ironman triathlon! So yes I am out to prove something.... to myself and all of those who doubt me!
Do I Run to Make New Friends?
Yep. If you know me, you know that I am a pretty simple person. I have a lot of people that I know, but there are only a few people that I consider real friends. I mean yes, I have a lot of "friends", but you know what I am saying. There are only a few people out there that you know as real friends. The people that you can really talk to and you know they will listen. Well on the run you meet a lot of people and these people seriously become some of your best friends. You can't help that it happens like that. What else do you have to do when you are running an hour or so for 3 to 4 days a week. There is a lot of talking that goes on, and there are a lot of things that are said when you are out on that run that only you and them will ever know. It is these people that understand the battles that you go through day in and day out with, money, relationships, life, stress and pretty much anything else you can think of. These are the people I really consider my friends. You guys know who you are and I thank you for those moments.
Do I Run to Forget About Life or to Learn About Life?
YES! People always say, "What are you running from?" They have no idea how idea how true that statement is..... My friend James (powermultisport) said to me one day over a few tasty beers and some ironman discussion, "You don't get this far in life without a little baggage." I totally agree with him. I have things that I am not proud of, we all do, and I have a lot of stress from the daily grind but there is one place that I feel that I can let all of that go. There are days that I love to run with other people, but there are a lot of days that I like a good long run with nothing but nature and music playing in my ears. This is the place where I can let everything go and leave it behind as I run. I have read so many stories about the reasons why people run. There are stress factors, religious reasons, beating addictions, weight loss, forgetting about family issues, etc. The list goes on and on, but there is no better place to let it all go. Recently I have struggled with some issues in my life that seemed like there would be no cure....until I went out for a run. I know, sounds stupid, but I honestly went for a run and figured out a lot of things. I was sitting at work at about 11:30 one afternoon and it all hit me. I had to get up and get out. I really didn't feel like running, but I made myself go. It was probably about 90 degrees, at noon, in the south mississippi heat.... not a good time to run, but something happened to me that afternoon. I ran 4 miles (not a long run by any means) but during that 4 miles I did a lot of thinking and praying and learned more about myself that day than I may have ever learned. I left it all there that day, and I honestly felt like I was "running away" from everything. My life was changed that day. I believe that if I didn't go run at that very moment I would still be lost. So, do I run to forget about life? I think about that question again as I type this.... I don't think that I run to forget about life, but more to face my life and then leave it all in the past. I have learned more about who I am and what I believe in the past few years of running that what I learned in 30 something years of living. I owe it all to running......
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.