Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Love of Running



So I keep wondering… Why do I run? I’m reading a book, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. It’s primarily about a tribe of runners in Mexico, The Tarahumara, who regularly run impromptu marathons of 300 miles, just for the love of running. But mostly it’s about US Ultra-marathoners who run organized races of 100 miles plus and why they run. Sometimes it’s to prove something to the world or to themselves. To battle the beast of fatigue or to test the limits of their own bodies.
One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“ …the real secret of the Tarahumara: they’d never forgotten what it felt like to love running. They remembered that funning was mankind’s first fine art, our original act of inspired creation. Way before we were scratching pictures on caves or beating rhythms on hollow trees, we were perfecting the art of combining our breath and mind and muscle into fluid self-propulsion over wild terrain. And when our ancestors finally did make their first cave paintings, what were the first designs? A downward slash, lightning bolts through the bottom and middle - behold the Running Man.
Distance running was revered because it was indispensable; it was the way we survived and thrived and spread across the planet. You ran to eat and to avoid being eaten; you ran to find a mate and impress her, and with her you ran off to start a new life together. You had to love running. Or you wouldn’t live to love anything else. And like everything else we love - everything we sentimentally call our “passions” and “desires” - it’s really an encoded ancestral necessity. We were born to run; we were born because we run. Were all Running People, as the Tarahumara have always known.” (pp. 92-93)

So why do I run? Is it really a desire locked in my DNA?
I started running as a teenager. I likes to go and run from my home to Eisenhower Junior High and back with my friend Scott. We had a great pace and rhythm, and even though I’ve always been an asthmatic, I’ve always been able to fight through it and run. Then life happened and I stopped running. A couple of years ago I started again and ran my first Ragnar Relay in Las Vegas last October. I had a blast and am looking forward to my first Wasatch Back Relay in June. But is the fun of the relay enough?
Even as I write this, with an ice pack wrapped around my leg for the shin splints that have always been a plague to me, I wonder, when will I find the love for running that the Tarahumara have? Or do I need to find my own inspiration?
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