Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Running + Me = ?

I have been reading the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It was recommended to me by someone else as a "runner's must-read". The author basically documents his true story of seeking out a hidden Mexican Indian tribe, which resides deep in the Sierra Madre mountains, and are known as "The Running People". These people are amazing. They can run faster and further than pretty much anyone on the planet, for hundreds of miles. But, the most notable thing about them is their attitude. Throughout their history, they have run out of necessity, but done so with an amazingly joyful attitude. They actually love to run. There are others like them- a Czech olympian in the 1950's, African tribesmen, modern day ultra runners... but they are few and far between. They seem to defy the rules and run to beat of their own drums. They don't use energy bars, slurp down Gu midrun (I have been known to call this sport gel my runner's crack), or "carb up" the night before a race. Most of these unusually strong runners don't even wear fancy biomechanically efficient running shoes. Heck, some don't wear shoes at all! And, they all simply run because they love to.

Since my attitude adjustment (see my last blog), the pursuit of this love for running intrigued me. I obviously like it, since I continue to do it, but I'm not sure I would call my relationship with running one filled with love. So, how do I feel about it?

I set out this morning to answer this question for myself. I was already going to meet my running group for a 5:30 AM run, so what better day to learn about runnin lovin than today? I knew I would need to run undistracted, so I decided to "run naked". No- I did not streak my way through Conroe. That would just be plain wierd, and quite repulsive to onlookers. This is a phrase runners use to describe running without a watch, or ipod, or the things we depend on so that we think of anything other than our burning thighs or screaming lungs. I just wanted to smell the morning air, feel the wind in my face, and let my legs take me as far as they were willing.

Turns out, no matter how hard I tried to smell, I could not smell the wind. I concluded that this is a rather dumb expression. Chances are, if there is something to smell in the wind, you are down wind from something reeking, and you would probably rather be up wind. Secondly, there was no wind in my face and My hair was not triumphantly blowing at my back. The Houston area is not known for it's windy days. I guess while I am being candid, here's where I should confess that I did even give in to the ipod temptation. I had to bring my cell just in case of emergnecy, and that happens to be what I use as my mp3 player. My little earbud was begging to jump into my warm and cozy ear, so I figured putting just one in really was not going to hurt...So much for the amazingly poetic run I had managed to conjure up in my mind. I was running and rockin' to Maroon 5 and The Black Eyed Peas most of the time.

So, I didn't exactly run "naked" (all of Conroe, TX should take a HUGE sigh of relief here). But, I actually did realize that I strongly like running. If I were in fifth grade, and running sent me a note asking, "Do you love me? check one: a) I love you, b) I strongly like you, or c) you digust me", I would choose b. Running and I are not to the "I love you" point in our relationship. But, I did strongly like this morning's run. Without my watch to use as a crutch, I was able to push myself a little more. Besides, I kept thinking if those indian dudes can run hundreds of miles, I can run five. They are just human too.

At the end of the run, I realized I took far fewer and shorter walk breaks. I felt like I had done something I really strongly liked to do, and more than anything, I was so thankful for how far I've come. My five mile run this morning was actually one of the shorter runs I will do this week. I am so grateful to have legs that can do THAT. Running and I are quickly approaching the "I love you" mark.

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