The meaning of Running


I wrote this some time ago, before my car accident.  When I read it again today, I reflected on the simple joy that running brings me.  Post-accident, I haven’t been able to run the type of mileage I did before.  Two weeks prior to the accident, I completed the Yakima Valley Marathon, setting a personal best and placing second in my age group.  These days, I can “wog” (walk/jog) on a track for a limited time.   At first, I saw this as a major setback.  As I kept going to the track, I started to recognize it as an opportunity.  I can take my own pace.  There’s no pressure to run a given distance or a specific pace. 

This was written after receiving a Garmin watch for a Christmas present.  I had a moment of insight regarding the true meaning of running.

My parents asked me last fall what I wanted for Christmas. I wanted a Garmin. I explained to them patiently what neat bells and whistles that very expensive watch has for a runner. I also made sure they knew that I would not be at all disappointed if I didn’t get one. I know it’s expensive. Christmas came- and the only gift for me under the tree was the Garmin. Well, actually, my parents also gave me a couple of running shirts and some home made cookies.

I went temporarily insane. Truly. Every run had to be the right distance. And I just had to beat that annoying virtual trainer. The watch was running me. I wasn’t in charge. The watch says “faster! faster!” and no matter how tired, how sore, how annoyed- faster I went. Or tried to go. It became an obession. Beep! Crap. I’m 5 seconds slow this mile. Beep! Damn hill, I lost 8 seconds. Beep! Stupid traffic. If I didn’t have to slow down for the car…. beep! Yeah! On pace! This is fun?
Whatever happened to the joy in running? Back in the misty pre-history of pre-Garmin running… when I would go for a trail run and notice the river, or the deer, or the blue intensity of the sky? Beep! Sorry, better pick it up. Your VP is geting ahead… Wait! Did I just see an eagle? Oh, wow! Those are great flowers. How far did I run? Who cares? Wasn’t that waterfall incredible?

And while we’re talking about joy and running, let’s not forget endorphins. AHHHHHHH! Nice. And the Garmin wasn’t even necessary.

Running is a time for personal reflection. I have solved many problems while running. There have been many conversations with my Deity- and a sense of deeper, spiritual connection to Deity, the world around me, and all things living. Feel the heart beat, the air entering and exiting the lungs, the sweat, the feel of the muscles contrating and relaxing… that is oneness with your body.

Perhaps I have recovered from my temporary insanity caused by the introduction of a Garmin to my running. It is now I tool I use. It provides important information. But, who gives a BEEP! that I was 15 seconds off pace in that last mile? Hey, there was a deer to notice. Have fun on the roads.

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