The Runner's Reward

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Why I Run

Why run? I mean really? I would be driving along all nice and comfortable in my car and see these people. These strange, strange people in neon and reflective wear. In the snow and rain and 90 degree heat I'd see these people. More often than not their faces would be in a contortion of pain and exhaustion. They would be on country roads, busy city streets, in the parks..everywhere! Why are there so many of them? Sometimes they run in packs. Large groups wild with a hunger that could only be satiated at an all you can eat pasta bar. 

They speak strange too! They talk about PR's, PB's (was it peanut butters?), tempo runs, fartleks ( really!?). They refer to food as fuel and can literally talk for an hour straight about shoes and foam rollers. 

As for me, I never was a runner. Of course I ran around playing as a child, I ran at basketball practice, I ran like hell after some friends and I threw snowballs at a police car passing by, but never  for fun and never from an intention to do so. Me, I was a hiker. I spent days and days of my childhood up through adulthood hiking and exploring in the forests and mountains. I loved being in nature and felt a intense drive to keep going and see what was over the next hill or around the next bend in the trail. Sometimes there was not even a trail and I would return home bloodied from briars and happy.  

After graduating college I started working. And kept working more and more until there was no time for anything. And this was life for almost 10 years.  I watched too much television, played video games waaay too much, and smoked cigarettes. I needed a change. 

Flashback to 1994: I was 15 and diagnosed with Epilepsy. Most of the time since then it has been poorly controlled at best. I would be seizure free for months or a year and then at times I'd have a few in a week or month. Eventually I was cordially invited to a weeklong stay at the hospital's EMU, or epilepsy monitoring unit. For that time I was under continuous EEG and had a number of tests administered. At the end of the stay the team of doctors had some changes for treatment. The specific diagnosis was partial epilepsy in the frontal lobe. From here we tried a few different medications , all with undesirable side effects. One pill gave me a rash, another pill made me raging angry all the time, and "one pill was just right," said baldylocks.  I have not had a full blown seizure since the day I started that medication in 2012. 

Epilepsy controlled I moved on to making some needed changes in my life. I quit smoking, started running, and began eating healthier. No more refined sugars and chemicals. Mostly clean eating, clean living. 

So back to the question: Why did I start running? Why did I become the reflective tights wearing, talk your ear off about shoes, fuel ingesting, carbocentric, fartlekking madman you love today? I had a number of friends who were running and talking about how much they loved it. I wanted to get into the woods again. I guess one thing led to another. I laced up some shoes one day in September of 2012 and stepped outside. I ran and it sucked. It hurt like hell. I could only manage to run for 1/8 of a mile before being winded and feeling on the verge of puking. I returned home drenched in sweat and sore and I don't think I even covered a mile, but I felt good. Better than good. I felt happy and good. So the next day I did it again.

I run to have time to reflect, to enjoy nature, to shake off stress or a bad day. I run for the challenge, for the elusive runner's high, for fun. I run to have a clearer mind, to problem solve, I run simply to run. So if you haven't tried running find a nice park and lace up. Who knows? You might hate it, you might love it, or maybe both.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Tony. I hope you keep at it for a long, long time. I always wished I had started sooner. It really is like a sailboat keel; it keeps me centered, even when things get rough and times are tough. Long may you run....