10 November 2012

Why I run alone.

Recently I told a neighbor that I was glad to see him keeping up with his running. He retorted with something like "Well, I've been running for 32 years, so it's not like it is a 'new thing' ." I was humbled by his continuity and then putting three brain cells together realized I had been running non-continuously of course for 26 years. It's no 32 years, but I am well on my way.

I have run on teams and alone. I have run on trails and on sidewalks and on tracks. I have run in the heat of summer and the depths of winter cold. I have even on rare occasions run on a treadmill or as I and many others like to call it the 'dreadmill'.

There are few concrete things about my participation in the sport except that I like to do it alone. I favor running solo for a range of reasons but the most significant is that it is a meditation best experienced alone.

Runners World has an extended piece here about how to meditate while running. I favor just doing it.

Getting out in the world with no expectations and the freedom to go where I want as fast as I want and when I want is a powerful mix for me. As my life moves forward and schedules get fuller and expectations from everyone on me are greater the time I set aside to run is sweetness. Once I get done with being a worker and a husband and a neighbor and a cat-keeper running is my time to unplug and meet nobody's expectations but my own.

That said, I can handle the occasional running partner. A friend here in town likes to join me for various training runs on his way to competing in half-marathons at a pace that is beyond my endurance level. Maybe I could get there but as I get older (and wiser perhaps) competition with others or with myself loses the allure it maybe had 26 years ago.

Running is the thing itself not some future race. And it is hard to find a partner whose schedule and anti-motivations align with mine. Sometimes it happens. Mostly not.

So for the here and now I run when obligations are completed. I run when I need to clear my head or ponder a puzzle. I run to run because I know when I get done I will have a happy endorphin-fueled high, a sweaty t-shirt, a hot(ter) body and a smile on my face.

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