People always ask me why I run. I think that’s such a strange and personal question… and a very dumb question to ask someone. However, it’s something I think about personally quite often, usually while I’m running, or about to run, or just after. And yesterday, I had a particularly momentous run for some reason.
I haven’t been running. I haven’t ran once since May… so over eight months. One of my longest breaks since I started running in January of 2011. It’s been a stressful month, week, yesterDAY in particular and I came home full of anxiety, stress, worry… knowing the best option at that point was a run to clear my head. To see if it still worked, to see if layering up, and lacing up would still do what I needed most.
Nervously, I paced around my new apartment, in a new city (I moved recently – another story), not quite sure where to head out to… I hate running along the streets alone. I headed out to a near by lake, instantly feeling like I was cheating on Lake Z.
The parking was different, the trail was messy and squished different, the people were different, the markers were missing, the hills were different, the noises were different… I was over dressed as usual, I get so excited to run in the cold, to be running, I put on all my favorite cold gear, knowing it’s too much, but I always do and end up hot and sweaty within minutes, stripping off layers and carrying everything for miles.
I finally settled in, found my pace, my breath, found that place where the cold chilly air strips away all your negative thoughts and started to enjoy the new trail. Never being here before, the beginning of a new relationship, a new love, figuring out the way, seeing new runners – I wonder if they’re regulars or just today, but still that pang of nostalgia and loss of not knowing the way, not being at Lake Z. I ran until I could feel every part of my being, until runners high kicked in full strength. I came back to my car breathless, exhausted, and exhilarated.
Runner’s high exists, I’ve experienced it a number of times. I don’t know that everyone does, and you can’t always count on it. It one of those gifts that comes out of no where when you desperately need it – I’ve experienced it on a 17 miler on the dark side of little Lake Z and during a 10 miler on the 10th of March for Jill’s birthday… and I experienced it yesterday. It comes and goes…but when you get it, it’s amazing.
But why I run… the pain is my favorite part. I know that’s weird, but I think that’s what makes runners runners. I think that’s why those first couple miles of a long run sucks – that’s not the real pain. Like the know you’re alive pain. Those miles are just the “oh this sort of sucks, work out the kinks, sort of achy pain.” The good part comes when you hit those miles where your breath evens out, your legs really start to move, the blood is flowing, your head clears, and you feel like you could stay in that moment – in motion forever – and you can feel every cell in your body – every ounce of your being. You can feel it and you know you’re alive.
That’s why I run. And I remembered it yesterday. Once I runner, always a runner. Your body never forgets.