Why run? I’m serious: especially for newbies, it’s painful and effortful. It’s sweaty and stinky, takes time, and can get you injured. It’s good for you, but so are vegetables and sleep, and who gets enough of those?
For the first couple of weeks, you just have to trust that it’s addictive — I mean, the first cigarette isn’t enjoyable either, but look at how that sucks people in.
If you asked why I run, I’d confess that low blood pressure and heart rate have nothing to do with it. They’re nice side-effects, but not sufficient (to me) to trigger a habit. Endorphins are a factor, but the ‘runners high’ usually only happens from long runs. Now, vanity is sometimes what gets me out the door (just like most exercisers I know), but what keeps us going?
Sometimes it’s the magical calm of being one of the few early birds out on the streets while the morning is barely dawning. We feel powerful.
(The above was taken outside the South High School baseball fields, on a morning in Denver. I love the speckles of lights from the high rises in back, and the sun just behind them).
It’s the gritty drive to finally, finally beat a PR. It’s about control.
It’s the sane space where you don’t have to talk to people, your co-workers don’t matter, and you can keep going until your frustration, or sadness burns itself out. It’s about humanity.
Running edges out thoughts and emotions by shutting down our brain’s capacity to deal with them, except for one at a time, and leisurely.
Running stimulates creativity.
Running community has helped me find valuable friendships in a new city, sparked by a common interest.
Running is something cheap to do together.
When I travel, running a place makes me feel more integrated and familiar. It’s also a way to scope out places I might want to revisit, and locate nearby amenities.
And that’s how you get addicted.
I’m serious. Just like drugs, coffee, gambling, or impulse shopping, running will develop a chemical dependence in your brain. You will crave it, and suffer withdrawal. It will feel good to you, so you will do it more. I say this as a good thing, because running is not always so hard as it is in the beginning. So long as you keep trying and remain patient, you, too, can become hopelessly addicted to running.