This is a question that a runner gets asked by people all the time. “Why on earth do you run? I don’t run unless someone is chasing me.” “I hate to run! Why do you do it?” Every runner has heard these and many more questions like them. I have never thought too much about the questions until now. I have hit a wall or a runner’s block. My sister is a writer and she has talked about the writer’s block. I say to her what a lot of people probably do “hang in there” or “all you have to do is work through it”. This seemed like a logical thing to say. The problem is that it is crap! Actually, the truth is that there is nothing I can say to help her.
I am running the Marine Corp Marathon on Oct 30. I wanted into that race so badly. I submitted my name to the lottery and got in. I was so excited. I started training and then something awful happened… I hit a runner’s block! I am not running well, I have lost my focus and I am not enjoying it. WTF! I am getting ready to run in this awesome race and I have no desire right now to run. I have tried the advice that I gave my sister. I have hung in there and tried really hard to work through it. I have read every book I can find. Nothing has worked. I keep trying to figure out what is going on and then it hit me. I have forgotten why I am running in the first place.
Why am I running? What about running used to make me so happy? What am I so afraid of? These are the questions that I have to answer. I have to put all the bullshit aside, open up and answer those questions..and here’s the the biggest part...I have to be honest with myself.
In May 2015, I ran the Flying Pig marathon in Cincinnati. This was a hard marathon for me. What I mean is that I hurt my knee at Mile 17 and I was in major pain for the last 10 miles. My knee was swollen and yelling at me to stop. I discovered that I could push myself farther than I ever thought possible. I didn’t finish in a great time, but when I crossed that finish line I had become a different person. I came up with a motto for myself after that race… “If I can make it through Mile 22, I can make it through anything.” I made it through all 26.2 miles! My girlfriend even gave me a ring that says Mile Twenty Two on it. I never take it off. Now, I return to one of my questions. “What am I so afraid of?” This won’t be my first marathon… It can’t get much worse… I know I can do it. After a lot of soul searching, I have discovered that I am afraid of being the best I can be. What?! I find it scary to even think about. I know that sounds crazy. Why wouldn’t you want to see what your best looks like? I don’t have a good answer for this. I know what my failure looks like, but I don’t know what my best looks like. I have always been an underachiever, just giving enough of myself to get by. It scares me to lay it all out there. It could be that I am afraid that my best is not good enough or not as good as I thought it would be. It is safer, to me, not knowing. I think the MCM has presented to me an opportunity to find out. I believe that has affected me more than I thought it would
Here is what it comes down to… Why did I start running? In the beginning it was to quit smoking, but then it became about challenging myself and changing myself. It has evolved. Why do I run? I want to know… I need to know. The only way to know is to just go with what comes to my mind when I think running. Here it goes…
When I run, it is all about me. I have no one else depending on me but me. There is not another person alive who judges me on my running, except me. I guess the best way to say it is, I run to be free to be selfish. I get to only think about me. For a short amount a time, I get to listen to whatever I want to. I can listen to the nastiest rap song, the loudest rock, or the sappiest pop song (that I would never admit to listening to) and I don’t have to worry about anyone else's opinion or judgment. When I run it is an hour a day I get to be absolutely selfish.
I run to find that person I want to be. I run to try and catch that person, who I know is in my soul somewhere. When I am trekking down the road, I see her and I speed up to catch her. There are times when I catch a little bit of her and hold on tight. Those runs are the ones I live for. They change me a little bit. I always think when I start a run if I will see her. There are times when she is way too fast and crafty for me. I believe that those times have discouraged me and I committed an awful sin. I let that get in my head and take away those moments when I did catch her. I let the negative overshadow the positive. I let my mind think it was too hard, so i quit looking for the person I want to be.
I run to keep myself balanced. I often find myself so anxiety ridden that I can barely function. I worry about things that are out of my control. Running helps me beat that anxiety out of myself. It is hard to run and worry at the same time. I am not saying that I run and find all the answers. I don’t run to find answers. I never have. I run to quiet the questions.
Running is hard and takes a lot of mental strength and physical strength. I can run and feel like crying because it is just so hard. Those times are when the reasons I run and the motivation is hard to see. The music and selfish pleasure disappear. I feel completely raw and almost broken. That is when I can hear God whispering in my ear. That is when I begin to feel love and comfort. All the rest is gone and nothing else matters but what is in my ear.
That is why I run.