What is running? What does it mean to you?

Boy running for funI was thinking this morning about running.  While thinking on the subject, a grand vision appeared in my mind.  A wonderful and true landscape of beautiful running.  As I sat there in thought regarding why us adults hate exercise so much, I was reminded by the vision of a wonderful time in my/our lives. 

When I was young and in grade school, we had recess time.  I think we all must have had it.  In my little vision I recalled a most common phenomenon about recess.  IT IS THE SPRINT!  When we got out of class for recess, practically every kid big and small sprinted as fast as they could the short distance to get to the playground of the school.  It was only maybe 20-100 yards depending on what classroom you were in.  But we all ran together, we all ran hard, we all ran with complete and utter joy.  I remember running with everyone else.  I remember laughing histerically inside about all of us running.  I loved it but what was the point.  I even thought that as a kid.  Why were we in such a hurry to get to a place that was so close.  Walking could have gotten us there probably only one minute slower.  In fact, the teachers were probably yelling at us not to run until we got there.  But we did.  We ran because it felt good.  We ran because it invigorated us for more play and exercise.  We ran for the increased joy that it brought us for our short time at recess.  We ran because it gave us the most bang for our buck time wise.

Sometime later, as I/we got older and started going to highschool, all of a sudden this joyful activity seemed stupid.  It seemd uncool to run as fast as you could to go do more exercise.  But still, even at that older age, running was easier and not such an evil to trudge through.  And still as time passed us by even more, running became something of a long lost memory where I could only remember coming in last in the one mile trial with all my friends in P.E.  It became something you did as torture for football and basketball practice.  IT BECOME BORING AND TIDIOUS.  IT WAS NOT FUN ANYMORE.

What happened to the meaning and joy of running?  What happened to us is the real question.  Running has not changed really.  It is the same as when humans first started doing it to get food and what-not. 

Here is what running is to me when I can remember it’s novelty.

  • Running is the great escape.  It was the release from the pressure of the classroom to start a fun filled 30 minutes.  It is still the wonderful release from a pressure filled adult workday.  It leads me into fulfilling thoughts and feelings.  It helps me, even if only for 30 minutes, to forget the junk and remember the basic joy of movement and life.
  • Running is the opportunity to live right now.  When I am running, I am living right then.  Right at that moment I am alive.  I am not weighed down.  I am flying high.  Nothing else matters.  Just the pitter-patter of my feet taking me away.
  • Running is fun and joyfull.  When the weather is nice and the spring times flowering is exploding, I glide along the country roads of my home town with a grateful heart.  I take in the beauty of it all.  In a sense, I become part of the big explosion of life.  I take part in the growth and the life.
  • Running means “I CAN” more than “I CAN’T”.  No matter what the pace, running is an opportunity to know that I can and I did.  I got out there and did it.  Not because I had to, not because I am obligated, but only because I CAN.  Just like recess and the playground only being 100 yards away.  As kids, we ran because we could.  We ran because it enhance the whole thing of recess.  We ran because we wanted to.  When running to recess, we all went as fast as we could but there was not first or last, we all just got there and kept having fun.

25 Responses to “What is running? What does it mean to you?”

  1. 1 Maren
    September 21, 2009 at 8:44 am

    I run to feel empowered. I run to feel peace of mind. I run to feel healthy and strong. I run to feel free. I run to be an example to my children. I run because I can. I run to become faster and better. I run for self confidence. I run to look good. I run to keep my weight off. I run for energy. I run against myself and to beat old race times. I run to sweat. I run to get to know myself better. I run to think. I run because it feels good and I LOVE it! I run for me.

  2. September 21, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Hey Jason
    What a great post!!! I’ve just joined my running club on campus and ran my first 5k over the weekend, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject. Why are people so put off by exercise? I used to hate running- it used to be a chore forced on me by my school where I was embarrassed by my slow time and I never thought I could actually like it or be good at it. I wasn’t the fastest runner in the race this weekend, but that doesn’t really matter. Pacing gets better as you practice, times get faster- it’s just about getting out there and doing it! I love running because it is the time in my day that I’m doing something for me- getting outside, enjoying the outdoors, doing something healthy for my body- it’s really a gift that you give yourself. I’m glad that I feel this way about running- and your post was an excellent reminder!


  3. September 21, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    This is a great way to look at it and think about it Jason. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 7 mac
    September 22, 2009 at 8:37 am

    This is the best post you have ever written! Thanks!

  5. 9 athleticme
    September 22, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I want to be a runner. Right now, for me, running is pain. It hurts. Physically and emotionally. It’s hard to move this almost 300-pound body in a way that resembles running. Its emotionally hard because it is a reminder of what I have done to myself. However–running is also hope. As long as I can run even a little bit, I have great hope that one day it won’t hurt–it will be easier to move a lighter body and rather than being reminded of what I have done to myself I can be reminded of what I am doing for myself.

    I love your post. I remember that child in me who loved to run and was so excited to get from point A to point B that merely walking would not do. She is closer to the surface every day. Thanks, Jason.

  6. September 22, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Hello! I am back on the weightloss bandwagon (you might remember me from many months ago!) and this time I am running while I lose the weight. A few weeks ago I could hardly run 1 minute, now I am running 25 minutes, 5 times a week. I used to read this blog and WISH I could run, and now I can!

    Anyway, this resonated with me so much: Running means “I CAN” more than “I CAN’T”. I have always been an “I can’t” kind of person when it comes to exercise. I felt like I didn’t have the endurance or the control to do it. So now, being able to do it, means that I CAN. When I run, I am proving myself right with every step. Every step, I am closer to a better me.

  7. 13 Meg
    September 23, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    I’m still learning to love running. There are times when it feels wonderful and others where I feel like I have to take too many walk breaks. Even with several half-marathons under my belt, I can’t say I love running yet. But I do know that I like myself much more after a run, even a lousy one. That’s enough to keep me going for now.

    • 14 run4change
      September 23, 2009 at 3:04 pm

      Even after some experience running definately has days that totally suck. Ones that you just force yourself to finish. But like you say, you feel good about it once it is over. Nobody is ever disappointed that they exercised.

  8. September 24, 2009 at 9:14 am

    Beautiful post on running. You really captured the spirit of the run.

  9. September 27, 2009 at 2:58 am

    Hey Jason,

    Great post. Thanks.

    Here is the line that touched me the most:
    Running means “I CAN” more than “I CAN’T”. No matter what the pace, running is an opportunity to know that I can and I did.

    In the last month and a half my coach has had me running more. As an overweight person it has been hard. I’m doing it in intervals, but the intervals are getting longer now, so it is harder. I am on track to do an 8k in March and a 10k in April, so I need to keep up with it. Right now it is hard. I can’t say that I like it, but I’m getting there.

    The reason I like the line above is that you put no matter what the pace. . . My pace is s l o o o o w, so I put myself down and say it’s not really running and my coach has told me I’m running. If that is the pace I can do than I am running and to stop being negative. I have come so far and I need to concentrate on that and not keep focusing on where I need to be. I am doing it and my friends are not. I CAN’T is no longer in my vocabulary and running is a huge part of that.

    Part of my journey is racing for children who have Trisomy 13 and 18. THat means they were born with an extra 13th or 18th chromosome. The most well known Trisomy is Down Syndrome. That is Trisomy 21. Anyway, kids with Trisomy 13 and 18 cannot run. I am running and doing my triathlons in their honor. I am blessed with my health and do not want to waste it anymore sitting on a couch or eating. So running also for me means running for all those children who cannot run out the door to recess.

    Thanks so much for the reminder Jason.

    • 18 run4change
      September 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm

      That is the best reason for running that I have heard yet. It is like those fighting for our country when we can’t. I love it.

  10. September 27, 2009 at 3:00 am

    Oh yeah, I forgot to ask. . .

    How much did you weigh when you started running and when did it start to get easier?

    • 20 run4change
      September 27, 2009 at 4:34 pm

      I weighed 250 about when I started running. It did get easier yes. This is a function of weight loss as well as conditioning. Like right now, I weigh the same as I did on my first marathon but can run much faster and it is easier than the slow run that I did on my first one. This is solely to training and conditioning because I am the same weight.

  11. September 29, 2009 at 5:07 am

    I just hit 249 pounds this week at Weight Watchers. I am down 56.4 pounds, so it’s kinda cool that I am starting to really run around the same weight that you did. That is very enouraging to hear that it gets easier cause right now I’m not feeling it. I’m on such a good pace with my weight loss and running that I cannot wait to see where this is going to go.

    Jason, I am so thankful for you and your blog. I’m so glad for your honesty in the good and the bad days. It really helps me in my journey. I get a little glimpse into what life will be like for me when I hit goal. The ups and the downs. I don’t just want to know about when everything is going GREAT. I need to know that there will be those hard days. I used to think when I hit goal that it would be all peachy, but now after reading your blog I realize it will not and that’s ok. Knowing that ahead of time is helping me prepare mentally for what I need to do so when I get there it will be better. I am in a grief counseling class for dealing with the death of my mom. She died 13 years ago this coming Christmas morning and I never grieved her and I am realizing now that I need to take care of that for my journey to be complete. I am also getting a regular counselor as well in the next couple of weeks. I want your readers to know that if they are not addressing the issues that are behind the eating they can lose all the weight they want, but it will come back. I am living proof of that. The mental part of this is 90 percent of the battle. If you can get a handle on that, you can get a handle on the physical, the weight loss.

    It’s ok to reach out and ask for help.
    It’s ok to tell people you are seeing a counselor.
    It is so freeing and you will see a definite change in your life.

    When I shared with my weight watchers group that I was getting a counselor I was amazed at how many people came up to me and told me they had a counselor, but that they don’t want anyone to know. This country is still so taboo on mental issues. It’s a lot better, but we still have a long way to go and if my sharing can help just one person than I will continue to talk about it.

    Thanks Jason. You have been so instrumental in my journey and I appreciate you.

    • 22 run4change
      September 29, 2009 at 7:57 am

      Counselors ARE taboo in this world. THey are so good, so helpful, so healthy, but people just don’t want to admit that help is needed. It is so hard for people to see that a third party is sometimes all that is needed to make something known to a person. It does not have to be an emergency, or a life altering mental illness. It might just be that you just can’t get past this little hang up and another persons objective advice is all that is needed. I think counselors are great and I love to talk to them.

  12. October 1, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Jason, I have been thinking about this one. I cannot recall ever enjoying running. Even as a kid I was overweight and hated running, less because of the feeling but more because of my self consciousness in doing it. The fear of what I looked like to others. So since I read this post the other day, I have been paying attention when I run to notice what it is for me. I think I have discovered that it is the thrill of doing something I didn’t think I could or that most others wouldn’t expect me to be able to do. It is a feeling of freedom as I shed my own limiting expectations and throw off those that others place on me. The freedom I feel as I no longer care what others think because with every step I take I am living a little bit larger and dying a little bit less. It is conquering fears and living out loud. It is loving myself well. It is knowing that I am moving on my own power, because I am strong. It is defying what was once thought to be impossible. I like this running thing…it is FUN!!!

    • 24 run4change
      October 5, 2009 at 4:45 am

      I really get that Kim. Looking back, in PE I was totally like this and hated running. But when I was not in the spotlight as the lazy, slow, fat kid, I did enjoy the exeriton

  13. October 9, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Great post! I love this part “Running is the opportunity to live right now. ” and the I can/I can’t part. It’s great because it forces you to stay in the moment and it’s always you vs you. Awesome. Great blog I love it!

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