I Am So Lucky (Why I Distance Run)
Yesterday, I stumbled across an article by the New Yorker and it completely stopped me in my tracks and converged on a number of conversations I have been having recently.
All of those little niggling questions about why I do what I do.
Why on EARTH I feel compelled to run stage races, adventure races, distance events and ultras.
Whether I am frustrated with trends that come and go in my sport.
The article was called The Spiritual Life of the Long-Distance Runner and I truly expected it to be another run-of-the-mill article on how running is like meditation and great for your mind and perseverance. Instead, I found myself reading every word to the very end of the article. (This is noteworthy as I’m a notorious skimmer)
The moment of the article that stopped me in my tracks was this:
“I am so lucky” was my race mantra that I stumbled across this year, recounted in my first 48 hour race report.
I found I didn’t need an aggressive statement mustering up internal willpower to push through such as EMBRACE THE SUCK although goodness knows I have had plenty of those. Because I truly believe that when I am in the longer endurance events that pushing your body doesn’t matter as much as controlling your mind. This is why I began searching for the meaning behind what I am doing.
And I found a lot of it. Being able to trek endlessly under a night sky full of stars or run miles and miles of a creek bed or just continuously push upwards on a hill – these are basic reminders that I am healthy, I am here and I am alive. I am lucky. And even though it hurts at the moment that is part of why I am lucky. I have the luxury to choose this or not to choose this.
I think that understanding is power and that is why running makes me a better person. It pushes me outside that comfortable equilibrium and allows me to understand what it means to truly lacking something which is something I never would experience otherwise.
I am currently reading Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau and in it, he explains in more eloquent terms than I ever could WHY I do this:
So in answer to the questions I have been getting lately, THIS is why I do what I do.
Because it’s there.
And because I can be there.
And because I need to be there to feel fully alive.
Why do you run?