My friend, Jeff, says he was born to run.
“Life is nothing but a single long run. It starts the moment you come out of the womb kicking and screaming and ends God knows when and God knows where. From here on out you have two choices, you can run or you can sink.“
I am pretty sure I didn’t run much after I was born. I remember when I was in middle school in Arizona. (I think it was Arizona…We moved so much I don’t recall…) But I do remember during one gym class I was told that I had to run a mile. I wasn’t an inactive kid–I rode bicycles, roller-skated, skate-boarded–but I didn’t run…especially a mile. During the run on this particular day, I managed to seize up and totally hyperventilate, wheeze, and embarrass myself. Throughout the rest of my schooling, I did everything I could to avoid the run. Runners were lithe, fast, sleek, and sexy. I was none of those, and I couldn’t breathe either. Ever.
Fast-forward 30-some years, and here I am, a middle-aged woman with a kid already in college. I have colleagues like Jeff who run with meaning. I’m intrigued by the run. I have completed a Couch-to-5K program. In fact, when I started, I couldn’t run 1/3 of a mile at once. I can do more than that now, and to be honest, I feel I need to do more than that now. Today, I made a trek out to Beaver Stadium and back, and I couldn’t have been more proud.
Jeff once asked the question: “Why do you Tweet?” inquiring why people went to Twitter to talk. I responded. I said something like “I tweet because it provides a safe outlet for introverts like me to interact in a dynamic environment and feel a sense of belonging.” In a sense, Jeff, through his social activities, also prods, “Why do you run?” Unlike Jeff, I don’t run to live, but I think that I run to belong.
When I was a kid, I moved all the time, and even though I’ve been situated in Happy Valley for 25 years, I still don’t feel I “belong.” However, this running thing makes me feel like I’m a part of something. Something more than the usual. And I don’t feel the need to go running in large packs. Heavens, no. It just means that what I do means something, even if it is a little significant, to someone else. I can run to Beaver Stadium and people are taking notice and cheering me on. And maybe in the long run, that’s what brings a certain richness to your life that makes life worth living. Does belonging make work life living? Maybe. Sometimes. And maybe I just run for the health of it. Maybe. Sometimes.
For right now, I’ll keep looking for people to tell me that the run is worth the pain. I’ll keep telling myself if I keep running I will be lithe, fast, sleek, sexy AND healthy. I’ll keep looking for the ‘atta-girls’ and comments that indicate that I belong. For so long, I never had a place, and sometimes, it still feels so, but it’s time to settle down-even if it means doing so means I have to run. It only makes sense to do it for the run, if not for me.