When I went out running at 5:30 AM last week, a man unloading something at the hotel where I was staying said “you must be mad”. In my experience as a runner, you do hear this kind of thing quite a lot and I found myself wondering why what we do is so difficult to comprehend from outside the sport.
Now I grant you that running is hard and sometimes you put yourself through discomfort and pain. The last 6 miles of the London Marathon was one of the hardest things I have ever put myself through yet I found myself desperate to do it again! When I was running the Bedford parkrun this morning, I overheard a man talking to a boy (presumably a father to his son), “it’s got to hurt, otherwise you won’t get your PB, come on, not far now, dig deep!” and the kid wasn’t being coerced, he wanted it!
Of course it’s not all about struggle and most of the time running is a great joy, you experience all the benefits of being active and fit and you see the seasons of nature through the year in a way that passes most people by. Now I know that some runners have difficulty motivationally at times and need to discipline themselves to get out and I feel fortunate that I never seem to get that. Sometimes looking forward to my next run dominates my whole day and in the case of the build-up to the London Marathon, even longer!
There is a scientifically understood chemical mechanism that causes the so called “runners high” which can produce a feeling of euphoria following excercise related to that experienced by a drug addict. This is because naturally occurring endorfines associated to the runners high are related to morphine. Although I do recognise this sensation I think that the true love of running has more to it than that, because the emotions I get last beyond that short term high. For me, I remember a time when I lived a very unhealthy sedentary lifestyle and because of that I can fully appreciate now, what it’s like to be fit and active. I think it’s the effect that activity has on all aspects of life that appeals to runners like me who can’t get enough of it!
Am I mad? I don’t think so!
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIVUK