Thursday, October 18, 2007

Proud member of the RA: Runners Anonymous

Did I ever mention how much I love to run? Did I ever tell you, dear reader, how much of a lift it gives me and how it allows me an escape hatch from the world, even if it is for only half-an-hour? (If I had more time, I'd surely run longer, as I do on the weekends.)
In this excellent piece, the author envisions her running as "a place where I can escape my problems and enter into a world where I am invincible." This is what I have always thought and said myself, and yet people who aren't runners think of it as torture and wonder how we have not just the stamina but the will-power to pound the earth every day as we do. Sometimes I just want to scream at their ignorance.
Runners are not fools; they are not suckers for self-torture; they are not mad. They are free. I remember once when a runner passed me by as I was walking home from work. "This is the best part of your day, isn't it?" I called after him. "Hell, yeah!" he replied. I didn't have to ask why.
The brain has a chance to clear itself out during a long run. You think about anything and everything and by the time you're finished, you realize that your mind has just had a dump. You feel able to put some thought towards what you need to get done today, as you're not still thinking about yesterday.
And, of course, there's the exhilirating high. I've mentioned this one before, and it's no myth. So, yeah, we runners, when you see us out there, are getting our fix. But what a wonderful, natural and perfectly harmless fix it is. This is the high I am literally chasing after.
It is also why, no matter what the weather—I'll even run in gale-force winds—I'm out there at 4 a.m. every day. I spend the first half of my worknight looking forward to it. Not even when my arthritic right knee flares up do I stop. I just throw my compression brace on and I tell that knee that it is going to help carry me over the course of a 3-mile run whether it likes it or not.
When 4 o'clock arrives, that's my magic hour. That's where I not only step out of the office, but I step out of my life as well. The five minutes worth of stretching before my run is like foreplay. And, once my legs start pumping and my feet start slapping the asphalt (or pavement, grass or dirt), I become a different creature. I actually become the dragon I'm meant to be. Or at least it feels that way. I'll run anywhere, anytime, in any weather—except for heavy downpours—and I'm always thrilled at the chance to do so. For me, this is like spreading my wings.
After my run, as I stretch to cool down and as I freshen up, you can hear my cheerful whistles or humming resonate throughout the entire building. At no other time during the day or night do I act like this. At no other time are you likely to catch me in such a good or friendly mood.
I just wish everyone was "in the know" about running the way we are. Some of us may have started off running for completely different reasons—some just wanted to shed a few pounds, some wanted to build their legs up, some did so to compete with themselves or others—but the addiction was the same for us all. We all fell deep into its clutches. You can find us everywhere.
Running is the heroin of the exercise world. It's not a habit I'm looking to break.
And now you know why we, the great Runners Anonymous, do what we do. We run in order to bite off a sizeable chunk of inner contentment and peace from life's great wheel. And we are always successful.

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