On my long run today, I took a break from the Autobiography of Mark Twain (great running book) to listen to the sound of my run. I do this now and then, especially in the winter. The sound of my run is the sound my breathing makes, my feet hitting the ground and the natural environment I am running in.
Today was my first chance to run something other than my winter route since November. The bike path that goes by the house is covered in ice and snow and so I have to stick to a street route. It’s an enjoyable out-and-back route but it doesn’t offer me the truly enjoyable sounds and sights I get to see when I run along the river.
I do sometimes run the winter route in the spring/summer but since I run the winter route so much during the winter, I tend to minimize it. It’s hard to believe that it’s been three winters that I have run along that road.
Finding the Meaning
So there I was this morning, running along the river, listening to the sounds of my run and I started to think about why I have this desire to run. This lead me down several trains of thought and made for a most enjoyable time. I started out with fitness.
Running for Fitness:
- Relatively cheap (shoes, some winter gear and some body glide and I’m good to go)
- Can do it all year round.
- Allows me to eat some bad stuff yet not pack on too many pounds (although I’m not losing any!)
- Is good for my body (lungs, heart, etc.)
The next thing that came into my head was that while fitness was one aspect of running, it wasn’t the deeper reason I run. Running as a social activity is another reason. A couple of experiences came to mind about this:
- I was able to spend an incredible amount of time with my wife last year while we were training for the marathon. It allowed for some great conversations and we connected in a way that we haven’t for many years.
- Back in 2000, I trained with my Dad for another marathon and it allowed me to really reconnect with him after college and having been away for a year.
- I also have a running partner at work and we have logged a lot of miles together while discussing life events and work.
The last thing that crossed my mind on why I run was a more personal one. I took the photo above and the one below after the turnaround point. It had been overcast the entire run but on the way back, the sun came out for 2 periods of about 5 minutes. The feeling of the sun while on a long run on a cold day is reason enough for me to get out there. The connection to the earth and to the world around me is so strong that I usually pick up the pace and can’t help but have a huge smile on my face. It dawned on me while turning around and taking off my hat to feel the sun on my face that the real reason I run is pretty simple. I run to feel alive.