Running is a funny sort of beast. Over the years, I have been a dedicated equestrian, alpine skier, and triathlete and was never had anyone say to me, "Oh, I like riding, but I can't because my knees (back, hips, pinkie finger)." When I embarked on a skiing streak (which lasted 28 days until the lifts were closed due to high winds), no one told me how "intense" I was being even as I braved some horrible conditions to maintain the streak.
Running is unique because it only requires the ability to put one foot in front of the other. Almost everyone has done this. Almost everyone has experienced running of some kind so they can formulate an opinion. If you have had a sandwich, are you able to formulate a judgment about all sandwiches? So it is with running. It comes in many different forms derived from many different purposes.
I started this blog post as a response to haters, but have decided to write it to remind myself and my friends why I do what I do. In the last week I have been called "intense" and "weird" because of my love of running. I don't think that a love that comes from a supportive, happy, healthy community something that needs to be criticized or minimized.
This week friend suggested that my life would be improved if I meditated and joined a "fun, active community" as she reminded me that my goal is to "run for you... no one else." Clearly, this person does not understand that running is meditation for me. It heals me and allows me to quiet my mind. Sometimes it is hard and I get angry. Sometimes it is amazing and I feel invincible. Sometimes I experience both in one run. It is life condensed. But I am better after every run...
Better. after. Every. Single. Run....
While I am running I have trained myself to build myself up rather than tear myself down. The opposition of the physical and the mental creates a dynamic tension that drives me forward.
I get to do this surrounded by the best possible "fiends". They stop me when I need or want to be stopped. They give me the tools to keep going. They only feed the strong parts of me and they never, ever give credence to the weak, self-pitying parts of me. They create space for the kind of inspiration that an ungrateful person might think came from within. They drive me without pushing... and they do this while laughing, singing, smiling and basically being huge nerds.
I do this without forfeiting other pursuits. In order to work, attend school, walk my dog, ski and bike, I often have to plan carefully and run at odd hours. But, make no mistake, I understand that running is the frosting on my life cupcake. It is something that make everything else that I do sweeter, but it is not the only thing that makes a life. However, at the end of the day running makes me stronger mentally, emotionally, physically, and I has provided me a rich community. For me that is the ultimate goal in life.
So, after a week of struggling with detractors, I spent 2 hours with my community and I am back on track. I feel lucky. My hope for everyone is that they will find the kind of joy I get from running through mountains. My other hope is that I get to run, laugh, joke, and sweat with the amazing folks that keep me centered and ok for many, many years.