Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why Running?

I remember the first night that I tried running. It was a cold winter night. I ran to rid myself of anger. To expose trapped emotions. It was on Christmas Eve, a few years ago. I couldn't even run for a minute straight. A few years and two 5K's later, I continue on. For anyone who has ever wondered, why running? This is it.

The following are parts from an article by Mike Cassidy, a runner who ran the 2013 Boston Marathon. You can read the entire article by following this link: Be forewarned  it made me cry.

Mike writes that "his family and him — like most runners — were fortunate to be out of harm’s way. The victims were someone else’s child, someone else’s parent, someone else’s friend. Their faces and names were unfamiliar, their pain incomprehensible."
I've put in bold the parts of the article that resonate most within my heart.
"But they were part of the tribe of runners, family and friends of runners. They are the type of people who sacrifice Friday nights for Saturday mornings — or support it. The type of people who measure life in minutes per mile — or can interpret it. The type of people whose most treasured possession stinks up the closet — or at least don’t complain about it. They are strangers, but they are runners, and so we know who they are.
Runners share an unspoken bond, a spiritual affinity that runs deeper than age or race, nationality or religion. Show me a runner, and I’ll show you a friend. Running identifies.
Running is not something you do; it is something you are. It’s a worldview as much as it is a form of exercise. It’s a way of life as much as it is a sport. It’s a state of being as much as it is a means of transportation. An attack on any of us running is an attack on all of us.
That is why we must run on. Running doesn't matter as much as we think. It matters more.
When despair is overwhelming, what do we do?  Go for a run. When stress is oppressive, what do we do? Go for a run. When hope is gone and all seems lost, what do we do? Go for a run.
If the perpetrators wanted to inflict lasting devastation, they could not have picked a worse target. Running defies destruction.
To run is to live. Running nourishes our muscles and nurtures our minds. It induces clarity of thought, vitality of physiology, and tranquility of emotion. It demands complete unity of body and spirit, it requires your legs, your lungs, your heart, your mind, but rewards all those parts too. It’s in this harmonious holism that we come to understand our true identities, our authentic selves. The universe’s uncertainty is distilled into a singularity: We exist in and of the moment. In the midst of entropy, serene bliss. In the midst of confusion, clarity. Surrounded by constraints, we are freed. Running creates.
In running, there is no such thing as foes, only co-conspirators. It’s one of the few competitive endeavors where my success doesn't mean your failure.
And this amicable accord extends beyond the athletes to the fans. In running, the sidelines are part of the playing field. If competitors require us to run faster, crowds inspire it. Nothing can galvanize greatness as much as throngs of screaming fans. Running persists on passion. It rides on emotion. Cheers can’t compensate for underprepared hearts or untrained legs, but they can make those hearts beat a little faster and those legs drive a little harder. 
Just as important as the volume is the attitude: inclusive rather than exclusive, universal rather than partisan. In running, cheering for someone doesn't mean rooting against someone else. Being a fan at a marathon is an expression of genuine altruism: helping a stranger without request or recompense.
Each run is an emphatic statement for everything that terrorism is not. Terrorism destroys; running creates. Terrorism divides; running unites. Terrorism is about fear; running is about hope. Terrorism signifies giving up; running means pushing ahead. Terrorism represents humankind at its malevolent worst; running, people at their inspirational best.
When we run, we take a stand for life, and in so doing, we bring into being the very spirit that defines the greatest threat to terrorism: the unconditional embrace of existence, the relentless optimism that progress is possible, and the unflinching conviction that our individual hopes are inseparable from our shared humanity.
To transcend our limits, we must confront our own mortality. As runners, reaching new levels demands staring human fragility in the face, accepting the futility of our quest, and forging ahead anyway."

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