Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Running, Working, Playing

After a two day rest, last Tuesday I went for my first run since my 50k the previous weekend (race report coming, I promise). As I was heading out the door the phrase "back to the grind" drifted through my head. As soon as my mind formed the words, though, it struck me that it wasn't true. That just isn't how I run.

It was still dark outside. I left our apartment complex and began running down the unlit road toward the first hints of a sunrise. The air felt cool and clean and the night was quiet, peaceful. I took my earbuds out of my ears and put them in my pocket along with my iPod, still turned off. This wasn't the grind. This was as far from the grind as a man could get. Like most of my runs, especially my pre-sunrise runs, this was a joyful experience.
Not where I was running, but you get the idea
I thought about the conversation I had had with Barefoot Ted that weekend and his theory that play is the chief goal of both humans and animals. His idea was based on the observation that humans and animals alike work to survive, but once our needs are met we tend to look for ways to have fun. He took it a step further and asserted that ultimately we work so that we can play.
"Whoa--mind blown, dude."
I'm not sure if that sums up the meaning of life for me, but that morning it struck me that it certainly sums up my running. I run because for me it is a form of play. The term workout has little meaning for me in the context of running. I don't run to work out; I work out so I can run more.
That isn't me, but that is my gym equipment (I'm doing the ABC90X program)
That being said, it took an awful lot of work to get to the point where running was fun. When I first started, it was torture, worse than just about anything I'd put myself through, and I had to force myself to do it. Only later it became play. Later, short runs were easy but long runs were painful, and I had to force myself through the first few before they became fun. Even this morning, it took work to get out of bed before dawn.

When it comes to running, work and play are intrinsically linked, the same way they are for most fun activities. If I had never worked at running, if I had insisted on only running until the point at which it stopped being 100 percent fun, I would never had had the experiences I've enjoy so much. On the other hand, if you lose sight of the joy of running and focus completely on working to improve, all your running becomes work and you miss out on the point of it all.

The great little wildcard in all of this is that if you enjoy something enough, even the hard parts can become play. Nowadays, when I prepare for a long run and I'm packing supplies and snacks into my backpack, I feel like a kid, because I'm doing exactly the same the type of thing I would do as a kid. Long runs are hard, but they're not workouts anymore--they're adventures.

This is literally how I feel when I'm on a long run

1 comment:

  1. Thank you....
    I guess this exactly tell why I am running...