Why I run.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately — about running, and why I do it.

When I run, I am my very best friend. I run far and I run often, and so I spend hours each week having long, silent conversations with myself. I love running because having these conversations has changed me. After having spent 27 years in this body, in this mind, the road is where I have finally gotten to know myself. When I run is when I am most honest with myself — and it is when I hear myself the loudest. I love running because sometimes I need to hear the truth; I love running because sometimes I just need to be heard.

I run because sometimes the world seems to move so fast, and the only way to not fall down is to keep pace with it. On these days, that I run means that I accept I am the mercy of a heartless, centrifugal force that tears me down and never bothers to build me back up. I love running because on those rare days that the world seems to stand momentarily still again, I can do better than just catch up it with it — I can break away, and I can take the lead. On these other days, to love running means to be exhilarated by my own strength.

[Leaf Parade. Happy National Running Day!] 

Running is a simple thing. It’s a thing that, as a species, we’ve been doing for as long as there have been animals bigger (and hungrier) than us. I love that it no longer comes down to this — that running is something that we can choose to do or choose not to do. Running is always hard, but it is still always my choice — a choice I make for myself. Every day I wake up and I choose it — I choose it knowing that somewhere along the way I’m going to hate it for at least a little while. I choose it because occasionally hating it makes me love it even more. I love loving something that sometimes just really gives me hell, just like everything that is in any way worthwhile. I love that I’m finally not afraid of that.

I love running because, at my very first race, I came in 117th place, and it was fabulous. Which I suppose is another way to say that I love running because to run means to never quite win. That I am a runner means that I am the type of person to sign up for a race that I know I will, without a doubt, lose — and by a considerable margin. This is what runners do — they race, and they lose; they race again and again, and they lose a few times more. I love running because to love something that will never quite love me back means that I am tougher than I thought.

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