Why run? I can write about reasons to write, but why run?
I write about it because I like running. It’s a throw back to something I was once good at. When I threw away my trophies from childhood, I did so because I was tired of hauling them from apartment to apartment. I remember looking at them as I put them in the garbage bin and being surprised because after more than 15 years of soccer and 5 years of basketball, I had more trophies for running than any other activity despite never formally being a part of a running team. I raced when I could. I remember running a few home cross country meets before soccer practice with Coach Mike thinking it was a fine thing for conditioning even if it mean being 15 min late for practice.
So here I am now unable to play soccer or basketball well at all. The coordination just isn’t there to play well. Still, I can run which wasn’t always the case during the time I’ve had MS. Early on, the only exercise I did was the rowing machine because when I fell it was only 6 inches. However, now I can run, and I’ve even managed to cut my time down on 5k runs from just fewer than 11 minutes per mile to fewer than 8.5 min per mile. But what do I get out of it?
I get to play a game, “run from the effects of my MS.” Is it a wonder I fell and hit my head on the side walk training for the 15k? Seems fitting. On days where that particular game is lost, OK it’s time for a different one, “chase the shape I want to be” or “chase the shape my wife wishes I had.”
I’m not being honest if I claim those are the reasons. I actually run because I can (same reason I had as a teen), because I don’t know how long I will be able to run, and finally because it feels less bad than not running. It takes about 2 miles, but after that my calves no longer feel as tight as before the run when they hurt to walk. Somewhere around mile 2.5 or 3, my hands stop hurting. It’s usually right around there when my mind stops racing from place to place and goal to goal, and I can find a sort of peace with my body. I run for those moments of clarity when I really do feel I’ve won the race with my MS if only for the moment.
On days after finding out my resume didn’t merit an interview, I run from the let down. Runners high to the rescue! It’s my emotional safety net or emotional crutch. Unlike choosing to follow the advice on how to submit my resume, I know there is no wrong way on a run whose sole aim is to reach exhaustion. Sometimes what I need most is an activity where I can’t fail so long as I make an attempt.