I've never owned a sports car or a motorcycle which is a good thing. The most aggressive vehicle I ever owned was a 1984 Honda Spree when I was 14. One spill on this hog when I gunned it a bit too much and I knew I needed to save my love of speed for running. I tend to be a bit aggressive behind the wheel, handlebars, or helm of just about any vehicle I pilot.
These days I save going off the rails and the urge for breakneck speeds for those days when I lace up whatever pair of shoes makes me feel fastest. Ultimately, one can get the same thrill of redlining a car or motorcycle during a run sans the risk of death. Well...for the most part.
Before you were a runner, you likely played some 'other' sport...baseball, basketball, soccer, football, etc. The most exciting moments in ALL of the aforementioned sports typically occur when someone is sprinting.
Maybe it's someone breaking away for a slam dunk, or a running back breaking some tacklers and running for the end zone, or a striker streaking towards an opponent's goal. This is when spectators go nuts. Speed is dramatic. Speed is dangerous. Speed is sexy.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying lose control, throw caution to the wind, and punch the pedal to the metal all the time, but kicking it into fifth gear every once in awhile if only for a few seconds or minutes is a rush. Don't deny it. You feel alive. You feel invincible...if only fleetingly.
I'm not disparaging the slow, plodding miles. But, if you're looking to post a personal best, win a race, place in your age group, or just beat that guy or gal who always seems to have a step or two on you, you need to use that fifth gear every once in a while....or lose it.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I'll try to elucidate. My words will likely fail to do the experience justice, but I will give it a shot. 'Fifth gear' is that crazy, scary speed that feels just a hair faster that what you perceive to be the fastest you can possibly run.
Everything is 100% engaged. Legs. Head. Heart. Using the motorcycle metaphor, imagine redlining a Ducati at 180 MPH and dosing it with some nitrous oxide. Terrifying? Definitely. A rush? Unquestionably.
I love the meditative qualities of a gentle, easy run along the beach. I relish feeling connected to nature out on the trails. I look forward to casual, social runs with friends.
But, it's because of those brief, fleeting moments when I engage the fifth gear and ask my body for all it has and then some that I ultimately run. It's also why I wear a helmet when I run.