Most mornings I dress myself for my run, and my daughter for preschool. We walk three blocks to school in all weather (we are the only ones who walk!). My daughter searches for treasure along the way. I settle her into school, give her a kiss, and press the "start" button on my Garmin - and I'm off. The other moms look at me as though I am just a little odd. Perhaps I am. After all, I so treasure and guard my time out on the run. Running allows me to be a patient mother and wife and teacher - when I can't run, I'm a bit of a beast to be around. I've been doing this for so long, I am not right without it.
Those of us who call ourselves "runners" are a crazy lot. We run in the middle of the night if our schedules demand that. We get up at 3 a.m. to run marathons. We run through winter blizzards, sub-zero temperatures, and the baking heat of summer. We run in the pouring rain, and love it. We voluntarily run races and long training runs on our days "off". When injured, we subject ourselves to various forms of torture for the sake of healing and freedom. Most of my non-running friends think I'm crazy. They find my running exploits entertaining, inspiring, and unfathomable. The question is: Does running attract those prone to craziness, or does running create craziness?
I think that it is the former rather than the latter. Some people start to run, but it never really becomes something that they love and must do. For those individuals, running never feeds their mind and soul. It's just "exercise" or a "workout". I must admit that I have never referred to my daily runs as a "workout" and the term, when applied to running, grates on my nerves. A workout is something you do in a gym, not on the roads or the trails, outside with the meadowlarks and coyotes. When I run, I'm going for a run. Period. For those who are not "runners", running is often a means to an end - they get through their run - and hope that it will give them a slimmer waistline, a quicker metabolism, a stronger heart - now they can have that bowl of guilt-free ice cream. If they could accomplish the desired end through some other, more enjoyable means (say, watching football on TV), they would do so. But, true runners run as an end in itself - Okay, perhaps there are those days I just don't feel like running, and must force myself to get out and just do it - but most days I enjoy the simple act of running. I savor my time alone in the world with myself and my thoughts, and the birds, and the dirt, and the clouds... This is something that many non-runners just don't get. Those who stay with running, and perhaps get just a bit obsessed about it are essentially different from other folks. Sometimes we don't know we're runners until we begin to run, and zap, we come to know something new about our nature.
But then, what's so crazy about running 20 miles on a beautiful cool, sunny February morning? I am never more with myself than at these times. This time, moving body, mind, and soul gives me the energy to embrace my life. To my mind, it's the folks who sit around watching football games all day, or who spend beautiful days shopping at the mall, who are crazy.