… It’s a way of life. An identity.
I saw a quote on a Facebook fan page this morning that said “Love the sport. Running is what you do. Runner is who you are. Be good to yourself.” (from Debra Morrow, Runner’s World Challenger of the Week on 6/7/13). This quote really made me think about the role that running has played in my life.
I was a different person before I started running. Looking back, I really can’t recall my attitudes and viewpoints in life before my running days. That sounds strange, but it’s true. What did I look forward to? What were my personality traits and how were they formed? How did I face life’s obstacles and challenges– did I have an optimistic, headstrong attitude towards them, or was I cowardly and afraid? Was I content with never knowing my own abilities and limits? Was I content with not really knowing myself? I honestly can’t remember.
Running has given my life a more deep, more profound meaning. It’s taught me that there’s more to life than we can ever possibly understand, and it did that by teaching me more about myself than I ever knew before. It taught me that there’s something deep inside all of us that, once tapped, breaks the preconceived limits and barriers than we have set for ourselves. For me, it takes a good run to be able to tap into that phenomenon. I’m always amazed at what my body can achieve when I push it further than I believed I ever could. If you face challenges head on with a positive attitude, you are sure to conquer them. I’ve signed up for races despite my doubts and fears and discovered that I could do them if I tried. Running 13.1 miles sounded crazy until I signed up for a half marathon and finished it. Climbing “The Summit” (a local 1200 foot elevation increase over 3.5 miles) sounded impossible until I signed up for a race to the top and finished. You can’t be afraid to try, or else you’ll never know where your limits really are (hint: they’re probably not where you think they are). This is something that has strongly defined my personality since I started running.
Running has taught me to not give up when times get tough. Because if you don’t give up, you will be rewarded. You have to want the reward bad enough– whether or not you know what that reward is– to keep on going when you feel like quitting. I can’t tell you how many races I’ve struggled through just to get to the finish line. That victorious feeling of crossing the finish after a tumultuous race is the kind of indescribable reward you can’t get elsewhere. I’ve run races in 90 degree heat & humidity, without proper fuel, with aching legs, without proper training for a <surprise!> hilly course, etc.– and I have never regretted a single one. I think perseverance is an essential life trait– you can’t survive in a world full of chaos and situations beyond anyone’s control if you don’t have it– and I only have running to thank for giving me that trait. I didn’t have that ardor before I started running. Whether it’s in a tough race or in a difficult personal matter, you can’t give up if you want to survive until the turmoil is over.
Running also enriches the emotions, in my opinion. A good run will summon emotions that don’t surface in everyday activities (I blame the endorphins). For example, I perceive things on such a deeper level during a long run that I am overwhelmed with joy at the simplest kind act of humanity, or the pure beauty of nature on the hiking trail. I feel like running allows you to see objects and situations with more clarity, and you respond with more raw emotions than you would on a normal, day-to-day basis. I’ve cried on my long runs just from the emotional rush (yes, I just admitted that). I love the feeling of being able to tap into emotions that run deeper than I thought possible. It’s another natural response from the body that never fail to amaze me, and it only occurs when I’m in the midst of a good run.
Furthermore, my body just doesn’t feel right when I’m not challenging it on a regular basis. How did I get that kind of satisfaction from my 30-minute bouts of cardio before? I don’t think that I did. Again, I can’t really remember…
Simply put, running has molded my personality and has been a major influence on making me the person that I am today. To those of us that run, it’s more than a hobby– it’s a way of life. Running is a sport that I love, it’s my sport, and I always look forward to it. Running is what I do. It’s who I am. I think that Ms. Morrow couldn’t have stated it better.
I think this is a blog post that only other runners can understand. We run because we love the effects that running has on us physically, emotionally, and mentally. It enriches our lives and makes us who we are. Until you’ve experienced these effects for yourself, you can never truly understand them.
What has running done for you? Has it had a profound impact on your life??