I've been thinking a lot lately about why I run. A large part of this self exploration has been catalyzed by an idea about a project I'm contemplating tackling in 2011 which is (shockingly enough) largely about 'why people run'.
There are at least a million different answers and a million different stories and virtually all of them are compelling. For some, it's a matter of changing their lives by losing weight, doing something they never thought they could do, or feeling healthy.
For others, it's a social thing. They do it not necessarily because of the running, but because they're looking to 'commune' in some way, shape, or form. Whatever the reason, they show up and they run and somehow it gives them what they need.
So, I've been giving a lot of thought to why I do it myself. What does it mean? Why is it that a day simply doesn't feel complete without running...even if it's just a mile?
Interestingly, the first thought that came to mind is that there is no other option. Obviously, this isn't 'really' the case in a literal sense as there are a million other things that I could do (and that I never have). Maybe basket weaving would really light my fire.
But, there's nothing else out there that I know of or have experienced thus far that consistently makes me feel more alive and optimistic (or at least less jaded) than logging a few miles on the road.
Running is often about moving forward in the best way we know how despite adversity and despite uncertainty. It's a cliche, but running is like life. At the end of the day, what choice is there in life but to move forward to the best of our ability despite fear and uncertainty?
Fear and uncertainty never really go away, you just get better at dealing with it...or reconciling yourself to it. The only way to really do this is to embrace the opportunities to confront fear and uncertainty again and again and again. So, I hit the road...time and again.
Maybe you can't run faster, but there's only one way to really find out. Perhaps another mile will kill you, but chances are it won't and would you rather live with the regret of never really knowing?
What does life look like when you let fear and uncertainty prevent you from moving forward in some way, shape, or form? Well, it kinda looks like death...or at least it does to me.
So, I guess the first thought that came to mind today when I thought about 'why' I run is that running acts as a reminder to me that when you stop moving forward, you aren't really living. Maybe that's why most people hate treadmills. Treadmills merely provide the illusion of moving forward.
When I'm out on the road, I'm embracing the possibility that I can move forward despite whatever obstacles get in my way. Really, there is no other option....unless death is your bag.