Archive for January, 2012

To See or Not to See

Posted on January 27, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I first took up running 11 years ago when I lived in Guam.  Looking back, I can see all the good reasons why I began.  At the time, however, it all boiled down to one thing:  spite.   I set out to run with the specific intension of showing “them” that I could.

Ah, the nebulous “them.”  All those people, circumstances, events, voices that conspire to tell us we’re not enough of one kind of person—or  too much of another—to make it even a mile down the road, much less run a race.  We all know “them,” whether they show up in our running or camp out on some other doorstep in our head.

Spite might get you going, but it sends you down the road alone.  At least it did me.  Because I initially set myself apart from other runners, I spent a lot of time not only physically uncomfortable but downright miserable.  I didn’t know, for instance, that companies actually make clothing specifically designed to keep runners cool, so I ran for months in heavy cotton t-shirts, losing more weight in sweat than in anything else.  It’s always the little things that make such a big difference.  It wasn’t until I was ready to receive the knowledge and friendship of other runners that I found that running could actually be comfortable, and even fun.  Up until then, I kinda hated it.

Once I opened myself up, I received all kinds of great things.  Practical advice.  Training tips.  Cool new routes to run.   New friends.  All these things made me a better runner, but they did something more.  They smothered the voices of “them.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “People only see what they are prepared to see.”  Certainly, I had to be prepared to receive other runners, but I also had to be ready to let go of “them” and hold onto me.  I had to believe in myself.  I had to alter my vision of myself in order to really, truly believe that I could accomplish my goals.  I had to prepare my mind to see me differently.

Fortunately, and, ironically, through running, I eventually learned to send “them” packing off down the road and to leave me alone.  But I’m not really alone anymore.  I belong to a community of runners.  And I know that I can run—I’ve seen it for myself.

What are you preparing yourself to see?

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Why Run?

Posted on January 20, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , |

It’s January, the first month of the year, the month when we post our resolutions smack dab on the front of the refrigerator, clear and bold and brazen for everyone to see.  We resolve to eat right, exercise more, get our finances in order, spend more time with the people we love.  We resolve to be kinder, gentler, more patient.  And for some of us, the very first goal is one we really don’t need to post on our list because we’d do it anyway.

We resolve to run.

In 1990, there were approximately 4.8 million runners in the US; by 2010, there were almost 13 million.  In just one short decade the number of runners nearly tripled.   And that number accounts only for road race finishers, or those people who finished a 5K, 10K, half marathon, or marathon.  It does not include your Average Joe or Joan who runs the neighborhood streets before dawn.

Running as a sport has exploded.  Why do we run?  According to Running USA’s latest survey (July 2011), most people run to stay in shape, stay healthy, have fun, and relieve stress.  Additionally, many people take up running as a means of taking on a new challenge and achieving a new goal.  Sometimes the goal is health-related, often it is not.

Although most people surveyed claim that the motivating factor to continue running is to stay in shape, just over 40% claim that they are not happy with the shape they are currently in.  So they keep running, determined to attain the level of health they desire.

Running, however, does much more than get our bodies in shape.  It gets our souls in shape as well.  What I mean by soul is simply this:  the soul is the essence of our being.  It is who we are.  There is something about running that allows us to tap into our essential humanity. We find our center, our core, that thing inside that makes us unique and connects us to the other souls out there too.

When we run we get to find out what we are made of.  Can we make it up that hill? Can we reach the end of the road? Can we even begin?  Often, what we are made of surprises us.  We find that we have more power than we thought.  We are strong, responsible, intentional.  And the more we run, the farther we go, we also find that running opens us up. What we often find through this openness is optimism, gratitude, joy.

For most of us, running is not an end in itself. It is the means.  It is the tool that helps to shape us. Like a carpenter’s adze, running makes intricate carvings in our character, refining us with each mile or minute we run.  Even though it’s January, the first month of the year, we can resolve to run—but running itself can make us resolved.

Why do you run?

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