Friday, December 5, 2008
"Runner's High": Running Anyway
Sunday, November 30. I want to do a 10-mile run. Somehow sucker my dad into getting out in the cold Kansas weather to jog the first couple with me. Fifteen minutes before we had planned to leave, it starts sleeting. Not raining. Not snowing. Sleeting. Like hail, but colder. And the wind is blowing so hard that the sleet is coming down at a 45* angle to the ground. Wind from the north. Like really cold wind. It stops after 5 minutes, but the clouds still look menacing.
We run anyway.
Wednesday, December 3. I wake up at 6:00 a.m. to reports of a severe wind advisory. Seriously. The National Weather Service issues tornado and thunderstorm and flash flood warnings. Well, in this part of the country, they also issue severe wind advisories. Our local NPR broadcast journalist reports in a friendly voice that the today we'll have a high of 39 degrees, a low of 18, and winds from the north at 30 miles per hour gusting to 45. I crawl out of bed and throw tights, arm warmers, leg warmers, windproof pants, a scotch-guarded top, a hat, and gloves into my (too small) bag. I go to work. The wind howls around my car, and I spend my first two training sessions watching the trees outside the windows bend in the semi-darkness and listening to the scratchings and creakings of blowing branches.
I don't care. I run anyway.
Running is empowering. Whether it's too hot or too cold or too windy or too rainy or too snowy or just plain miserable outside, an athlete (or anyone, actually) who really wants to run is going to go outside and run. And that's it.
What's more, if the athlete is worth his or her salt and has any measure of endurance experience, he or she is not going to whine or brag about it. He or she might casually say, "Oh yeah, I ran earlier today." But will not regale listeners with tales of brutal conditions.
That's why I'm falling in love with running. It makes me feel tough. It makes me feel strong. It makes me feel that I don't need anyone or anything to approve or praise me. Or need anyone or anything at all, for that matter.
That's why I run. It's difficult to start running. It's difficult to keep running. And if it doesn't hurt by the end, then I'm not doing it right.
But afterwards, in the glow of the runner's high, I feel strong and capable.
And that's enough to get me out there again next week.