Those of you who read my blog and know me personally know that I am a runner. I routinely refer to myself as the World’s Okayest Runner, a title I have embraced with enthusiasm. I have a long history of running that dates back to elementary school, though I can’t remember exactly when I started running. It’s more that I don’t remember ever not running and when I was in junior high and high school it was a way that I could get time with my Dad. I know that I ran my first organized 5-miler when I was 10 and that when I was 12 I beat the Governor of Colorado in a 10K. Unfortunately, I also have a history of overuse injuries that accompanied years of my life when it was my “addiction” and I didn’t moderate my running as I need to since I am not built on a traditional runner frame (see: med school and residency). I took a few years off from running in my late 30s and early 40s, then decided to get back to it with some “rules” a few years ago that involve moderation. So far those rules have been successful: I’ve had no stress fractures, at worst a couple of minor tweaks with the IT bands that correlate directly with wearing heels, and I managed to run 4 half marathons injury-free and with only one toenail lost between May and September this year.
And, of course, as I mentioned last Spring, I did acquire a running coach last April. The first thing that she did was give me some form adjustments that I know have contributed to running without injury this summer. What she best provides for me is a training program that I don’t have to think about (she’s the expert!), encouragement even when I have a “meh” run, and wonderful wisdom. I like to think that I am also learning some coaching behaviors from her that I can translate to my work life. I know that her guidance has made me an overall stronger runner, and I am faster than when I started with her almost-6 months ago.
So, why the rambling about running? Here’s the thing: I love running. I love how it makes me feel. I love the accomplishment I feel after a solid run, and I really love that my half marathon in late September I was able to describe as “tactical” in terms of how I ran it. I already mentioned that I refer to myself as the World’s Okayest Runner, and I am. I get out there and have fun and find JOY in moving and being outdoors, particularly when I get to do that with friends. While I may be running for a PR in some of my races, I am not running because I expect to win my age group, much less the race. I’m not going to the Olympics and I’m unlikely to run a Boston qualifying time (in part because I continue to have little to no interest in running a marathon, and in part because I’m a really okay runner). My relationship with running is that it is something that I am doing it for the love. Or, as I have said more than once, I run because I get to.
Please understand that I’m not saying that everyone should go out and start running- I know that some people simply can’t for physical reasons (my Dad is now amongst them thanks to his Parkinsonism and he’s why I often run wearing a yellow flower that symbolizes running because I get to). I know that some people hate running with a fire-breathing intensity, and that’s okay. What I am using my own running to describe is the idea that we should each have something in our lives- and preferably something that has absolutely nothing to do with our vocation- that we do for the love.
To quote Michael Franti, “Do it ‘cuz you love it and it makes no sense.” It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.