In case you missed it, this month I am on a running and writing streak! I'm participating in the Write 31 Days challenge where I'll put up one blog post every day in October. I'm focusing this month on running and will run at least once every day this month as part of my running and writing streak.

So why running?

Think back to the very first time you ran. For most of you this should be a trick question: the first time you ran you were probably too young to remember or the experience was too insignificant in the grand scheme of your life that it was purged from your memory banks over the years. Crawl to toddle to run, and sometimes we do a combination of all three, but always there is that urge and will to run. Running is so commonplace, mundane, and natural, and yet society tells us it's something to hate. If I tell a new acquaintance I'm going running or I just got back from a run, frequently I'll hear them say, "Ugh, I hate running." I hate running. Why?

Go to a playground (not creepily though, just be cool) and you'll likely notice something: all the kids run. They love it. They chase after each other laughing and grinning with games of tag or keep-away or wildly imaginative escapades. When did we stop running then? When did we lose that joy of running and learn to hate it?

Did I hate running when my mom pushed me out the door to the old horse pasture to run laps for fitness training during the soccer off-season? Did I hate running when it wasn't running - when I was sprinting to home base or playing dodgeball at the school gym or when I was chasing after a loose ball in soccer? No, I remember that joy on the soccer pitch, that unadulterated mania that came from sprinting across a wide green lawn to some blurry distant goal.

I loved to run even in high school when I thought I didn't like running because nobody liked running, and that was normal, right? Even so, when I got too stressed with homework at boarding school and I got off an emotional phone call with my high school boyfriend, what did I do? I pulled on my running shoes and headed out the door.

Eight laps around my school's campus and I was completely drenched in sweat and totally zen. It was amazing, and every time from that point on when I found myself stressed because of a paper that was due, or upcoming exams, or work, or whatever curveball life happened to throw that day I went for a run. It's cheaper than therapy and I can still eat ice cream, so what's not to love?

It's not an uncommon story: so often you'll hear tales of athletes or regular folks who, in the face of death or illness or personal strain turn to running for comfort. What is it that compels us forward, even when we gasp for breath when we're long out of shape? I could write an entire book on the question, but the mere fact that the question can be asked is enough to justify one short month on the subject.

A few years ago I finally decided to do something with my running and sign up for a race: the Outer Banks Half Marathon. One cool swag bag and shiny medal later and I signed up for another half marathon. Then a 10 miler, and another half marathon, and another 10 miler, and now I'm training for my fourth half marathon. I sure as heck ain't speedy (think of running through molasses and you might find my pace) but hitting the trails, pounding the pavement, the gentle rhythmic thump thump thump of footfalls and heartbeats, and that's where you'll find me this month, totally hooked on the joy of running.

I'll make a wild claim here: running is a panacea. Too stressed? Go for a run. Diet issues? Go for a run. Totally tapped out of creativity? Go for a run. What else can promise all this other than your own too legs? I'll wager not much.

So that's why I run, and that's why I love to run. And okay, sometimes it's agony out there putting in the miles and you think to yourself, "omg why do I do this?!" but then you finally come home and you're happier towards your family and you figure out what to write next and your body says, "Yes, I can keep going, let's go," so you go out again another day, and the sum of all this and the occasional runner's high all culminates in the joy of running, of living.

So yeah. That's why.

 

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