Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why I run

I used to hate running.  A lot.

I've always been active. I've tried all manner of sports.  I was a ballet dancer for eleven years.  I've taken karate and fencing.  I love to ski and I'm a pretty good swimmer.  I'm a terrible soccer player, but I've done that, too, and played Ultimate Frisbee on a team.  I've done backpacking and boxing and rock climbing, spelunking and rollerblading and tennis and horseback riding.

Actually, I'm terribly uncoordinated.  The more equipment that's involved, the more likely I will foul it up.  This is not false modestly.  Ask anyone in my family.  I'm legendarily clumsy. Tennis was a disaster.  And I have the distinction of being the only member of my high school swim team to have sustained a bleeding injury during a meet.  I ran into a starting block.  No, I'm not kidding.

I didn't discover running until after graduate school.  I tried it in college but never really caught the bug.  But after I graduated from Yale and moved to a new city with a new husband and new house and no job, I started running because there was nothing else to do with myself.  I couldn't afford a gym, I didn't know anyone and didn't have any other access to any kind of equipment.  I ran to learn my new neighborhood and to work out my frustrations at the lonely situation I was in.  And it worked.

I kept running even after things worked out.  We moved to a better city (my hometown) and a better house.  There was still no money for a gym and by that point, it didn't really matter.  Who needed a gym?  I had shoes!

I have been running ever since.  I've taken breaks for pregnancies and new babies but keep coming back. There are so many reasons I run now, and none of them are finances or desperation.  #1 on the list is that running keeps the crazy from taking over.  When I run, I work out my anger and my extra energy.  Over those miles, I focus my head and think about what I've got coming up in the days,weeks and months ahead.  I pound out the answers to daily irritations and celebrate minor victories.

I pray.  And I pray and pray and pray.  My best prayers are when I am running because they are raw and unedited.  I don't have enough extra space in my running brain to be polite and gentle with God and so my running prayers are exactly what I need to say.  When I am running, I remember to trust that God is big enough to handle what I need to unload.  And so far, God has proven trustworthy on this point.

Finally, I run because running is one of the few things in my life that is all mine.  I can share it if I want to, but I don't have to.  If I run an extra three miles that day, I did it by myself.  If I fail to wake up and get my backside in gear, I'm the only one to blame.  I live an incredible life filled with incredible people. I consider it a great honor to share myself with them.  But I also know that I need something that is just for me.  Running is a room of my own (to blatantly steal from Virginia Woolf).  I don't have to please anyone but myself.  I don't have to accomplish anyone else's goals or make anyone else happy or satisfied.  There's no one else to disappoint or shortchange.  Running is just for me.  I need that little pocket of selfish in my life in order that there is enough of me--healthy-- to distribute according to the needs of others.  

That's my brand of crazy.  That's why I run. 

What about you?  What is your selfish thing?

No comments:

Post a Comment