Why I Run

Damon on the runI was reading Chrissy Vasquez’s latest blog post today. I was moved by her honesty and I really wanted to hug her by the time I finished. Toward the end of her post, she talked about experiencing the runner’s high for the first time. I can’t tell you that I remember my first time, but I can assure you that had I never experienced the runner’s high I would have abandoned running a long time ago. There are less difficult ways to get exercise. Look at that face in the photo! Does that look like I’m having fun?

The fun of running, besides being able to eat anything I want, is what happens in my head when I’m out on the streets. If you’ve never experienced it, there is no way for me to describe it that will be meaningful to you. Suffice it to say that I’m willing to wear that face over there in public several times a week in order to have that experience for a few moments during the run. 

I experienced this mental state for the first time outside of running during my bike ride across the country. As I pedaled along on a back country road one day, I suddenly realized that I had covered nearly 30 miles without noticing anything. Then that feeling poured over me as I realized that I had been in the zone for a very long time, longer than I could possibly stay there when running. I now find that I can get there on my bicycle, but not reliably. I haven’t figured out the conditions that create the atmosphere for me to get there on the bike. But when I run…

As long as I’m running alone and not racing or having to pay attention to my route, I can slip into the zone sometime during the second half mile of a run. I can stay there for 15 or 20 minutes. I don’t know what brings me out. I haven’t been able to return during the same run, which is why I hate when external things like cars or dogs snap me out. 

I have done most of my running this year with Back on My Feet. As a result, I’ve missed those moments in my special state of mind. I ran solo on Sunday morning, and it wasn’t until I read Chrissy’s post that I realized what was so great about that morning run. 

I chase that state of mind in lots of ways. I think I have brief periods during meditation. If I could practice Tai Chi enough, I think there’s a chance to have a group version of the experience. I’ll find the conditions required to get there on my bike now that I know it is possible. Wherever I find it, I’ll savor it. But for now, that’s why I run.

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