In his newest post, my awesome running brother really captures something that’s true about running – it’s the easiest, and hardest, thing I do.
It is hard to explain running and the brain worms (the compulsive desire to run a stupid long distance and sign up for races). I never thought I would be in the position to be a distance runner and still, I catch myself thinking ‘Well, I don’t need that. That is for real runners.’ Only to realize that maybe along the way, I have become a real runner. 40 mile weeks and marathons; planning days and weeks around mileage; traveling with twice as many clothes so I don’t miss a workout — I didn’t plan this and it hasn’t come easy. Though maybe it has…
Running, running long distances specifically, is the hardest thing I may ever have done. It is also the easiest. Running seems essential to human life in some way and something that occurs without ever thinking about it.
We as a species seem born to run. I watch my three year old nephew and realize that he runs until he falls over, everywhere. He doesn’t think about it and has no finish line. He just runs as though it was the easiest and most natural thing in the world. And really, running is easy. It is just falling slowly but in a very rapid pace. There is nothing magical about it and anyone, yes anyone, can run or work up to a run. Running is easy.
Running, running long distances specifically, is the easiest thing I may have ever done. It is also the hardest. Running the long runs is just time, a decision to put aside 4 hours of my day to go out and enjoy nature. To listen to birds sing and see my neighborhood or a park at a calm 5 mile per hour pace. Getting to that point, getting to running 3, or 5, or 10 miles is hard. It is hard to get out of bed and strap on shoes to run for 3 hours. It is hard to push through mile 15 and 17 as feet and ankles and knees all seem to rebel against movement. It is hard to face up to chaffing and consuming half your calories in paste form. Running from mile 17 to 18 last weekend was one of the most physically and mentally straining things I have ever done but I did it. It takes being more stubborn than smart. Running is hard.
Maybe that is what is appealing about running or what draws people to run until they bleed and can’t walk another step. While challenging, the challenge isn’t the activity. The challenge is to push yourself into something you never considered possible before. Running is easy to do but incredibly hard at the same time.