Running is the secret’s secret. Marriage, job, house, kids… no, those are the overhyped things we are told we need to be satisfied in life. But no, it’s actually a lot simpler than that. For many of us, it’s running.
As a runner you know this. And because you know this you live in a state of mild, but constant, paranoia of being injured. Which up until yesterday meant knocking up a knee, twisting an ankle, a bad blister. It meant not being able to run for a little while. Not being able to run is the worst for runners. It’s hard on their bodies, but it’s a lot harder on their minds. Runners know this–how much running helps their minds. How much stability and happiness it allows you.
“There are so many people without legs.”*
If you don’t run you don’t understand the moments. Of being alone. Of being in the middle of it. Say mile 4. A good song comes on. A good thought comes to you. About anything, and suddenly stuff is good. Suddenly life is awesome. Suddenly the future is dazzling. And you run. You sprint. You are in the air. You have no weight. You fucking move. And you are grinning. Maybe you are singing out loud. Maybe you are pumping your fists. And you don’t care if anyone sees you. Every single good run has one of these moments in the middle.** Runners know this.
Running is the secret’s secret. Running starts as a hobby on the sidelines of your life, but then it has this way of nudging in–nudging completely into the center. Running becomes the radius of your life. Running becomes your life. You don’t run to live better; you live better because you run.
Runners know this. It’s the secret. It’s why we live in a constant fear of injury—fearing that one day we won’t be able to run. As a runner you know you probably won’t be able to run your entire life. Sure, every once in a while there are the moments when you find yourself running a race and an 85-year old weathered out old bird with bells tied to his shoelaces will just run right on past you, will leave you in his dust, and you’ll think, That’s fucking awesome. But those are the exceptions. You know that running isn’t always that sustainable on bodies. You know something will probably eventually break. The shoe will drop. The knee will go, the cartilage will wear. Runners know this.
But this. Fuck this.
Running is active gratitude. To run means you are healthy. To run means you are alive and able-bodied and physically independent. To run means that you are free. From now on every run, run in gratitude.
*“These runners just finished and they don’t have legs now,” said Roupen Bastajian, 35, a Rhode Island state trooper and former Marine. “So many of them. There are so many people without legs. It’s all blood. There’s blood everywhere. You got bones, fragments.” New York Times
**This Sunday I ran a half marathon in PA. It was a beautiful day with blue skys and sun. During mile 7 or 8 the course took you along a small road in a wide open field. The older runner in front of me had a shirt on that read on the back, “Run On Extraordinary.” I was running behind him and thinking about his shirt. An entire family of deer suddenly appeared in the field and sprinted alongside us. I grinned and I ran.