We’ve heard it all before. Well…maybe you have or haven’t, but here goes.
“Everyone runs. Marathons are popular, runners get injured, you have to choose the correct shoe, blah, blah, blah…runner’s high.”
Some of you look at this with a little scorn, others trepidation, and still others with a little self-mockery and pride. Those of you in the latter category definitely identify as runners. You may have the 13.1 or 26.2 bumper sticker on your cars. You probably wear dri-fit shirts and hats because hey…cotton kills. You read Runners World and have equally skinny friends with equally insatiable appetites for baked goods. As proud as you are of your running ability, you might admit to feeling a little clumsy and out of sorts in the non-running realm. You trip on the sidewalk or on your own feet sometimes. Most of you definitely avoid the flag football league. You don’t return your friend’s call to catch the morning surf break. And dancing? Well that’s some silly nonsense to be saved for the occasional wedding. But when it does come to that one thing–running– you do it with relish and with as much if not more enjoyment than eating that post-run bacon-glazed doughnut.***
***Wait, you don’t have these? Well, find a city that offers them and MOVE THERE.
Some of you identify yourselves differently. Maybe it’s another sport altogether. Your friends are skiers, gym rats, skateboarders, surfers, rock climbers, or fellow BBoys. Heck…maybe it’s even the Sport of Fitness and you’re working on constantly varied, girl-named workouts for time and instagrammed for online adulation.*** (Hey I’m not hating, follow me: @natehelming…smiley emoticon).
If pressed, you admit you probably read Men’s Fitness, Maxim, Powder, [Insert] Lifestyle Magazine. The bumper stickers are different but they’re still there, along with the skier beanie, surfer shades, skateboarder flat-brim snap-back, or whatever clothing that somehow finds its way into your weekly rotation. What’s the point of all this? It’s to talk about identity. It’s one of, if not the most, powerful, inspiring, and community-driven human needs on the planet. It’s also one of the most limiting, soul-crushing, and, in all honesty, market-manufactured human needs out there. Minor economic rant aside, this article is titled, “What I want you to know about running.” Well here it is. I want you to see the difference between running and running. In other words, I want you to separate the magazines, bumper stickers, and dri-fit hats from the act of putting one foot in front of the other, quickly, down the road, by yourself or with friends, simply for the sake of it.
We may not all be runners, but I can assure you, we are all runners. Regardless of your current running views, chances are at one point in your life you ran down the school halls when you weren’t supposed to, chased your friends at recess, and generally just couldn’t stop because it felt so good to keep going! You were a tight bundle of inexhaustible running energy that annoyed the hell out of your parents.
Now you may not run or consider yourself a runner now, but that deep human need to explore, to develop, to be outdoors, and to connect with other laughing, jumping, sweating human beings still flows through your veins. It’s at the essence of human interaction and of being human, and to me, running happens to be the most universal of all activities that ties it all together.
We all run, have run, used to run, continue to run, or will learn to run at this very moment. It unites the commuter who has to chase down the last bus, the skier or boarder who hikes up early for fresh powder and first tracks, the kid running wind sprints to make the school team, the CrossFitter practicing Pose drills, the hiker who just wants to see what’s around that corner, and your child (or yourself) taking those first steps… The smile is the same. The sweat is the same. And that post-run desire for a bacon-maple glazed right after is, yes, right there with it.