Monday, January 03, 2011

I run because the runner's high never gets old.

One of my biggest regrets is that running did not come into my life earlier. This is not to say I was markedly unhappy during those years when I didn't do much running. As a kid, I spent countless hours swimming, playing soccer, and engaging in numerous other activities.

But, I was a pretty high strung kid. My brother used to joke that I was going to have a heart attack by the time I was twenty one. Fortunately, despite his MD he was wrong about this one. He was right that I was wound tightly and I needed something to help me decompress.

I don't know how much awareness I really had of just how tightly wound I was until running discovered me. It's hard to believe it was little more than whim that got me into the sport. Well, it was a bit more than that. I had the (mis)fortune of playing soccer for a markedly bad coach who simply turned me off to the sport that had been close to my heart for most of my life.

The following fall, I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to play soccer (at least not for the coach in question), but there weren't a ton of other options. Football wasn't an attractive option at the time- A)I'd never played the sport in any substantive way. B)I wasn't the biggest kid on the block.

At my school, this left one other option....cross country. I had a few friends who did cross country and generally seemed happy. In lieu of nothing, I signed up with zero expectations. I figured I'd pick it up as I was generally athletic and do ok. I had no idea how this casual decision would impact the rest of my life.

The first couple weeks were brutal as despite my general athleticism, I was no runner. My body needed some time (and consistent training) to develop any kind of aptitude for the sport. So, I largely suffered for two weeks in the stiflingly humid heat of Kansas in August.

I survived this gauntlet and discovered something amazing. I seriously DUG this running thing and consequently, I was pretty good at it! I wouldn't claim I 'always' dug it as our speed workouts and the races hurt unlike just about anything I'd ever experienced.

But, the runs that were done at comfortable, conversational pace uncovered something I had never felt before...peace. I felt a peace and tranquility that I had never experienced before..EVER. I had no idea what it was, but it was simply awesome.

I found myself running without exerting any kind of effort. I wasn't running anymore, I was flying or at least doing the closest thing to flying a homo sapien can muster. What I found equally remarkable was the 'quietness' of my mind.

The fears, doubts, anxieties, worries, questions, and constant cycling of my mind had effectively been silenced and I LOVED it. I felt calm, I felt confident, I felt in control.

Upon completing these runs, I felt cleansed physically and mentally. I felt ready for whatever was ahead of me. Whatever was troubling me prior to the run seemed a heck of a lot easier to deal with or manage.

For the uninitiated, what I am describing is the 'runner's high' and it's for real. Yes, my name is Matt and I'm an addict. But, as far as 'highs' go, The runner's high is as good as it gets.

You'll never get pulled over for driving under the influence of running. You'll never forget about how much fun you had during your most recent run.

I run because the runner's high simply never gets old.

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