Long before I decided to run this marathon…
Long before I ran my first 5K…
Long before I used running as my chief form of exercise…
Long before I even owned a pair of running shoes…
…I had friends who were runners. Crazy, crazy friends who were runners.
The concept of finding pleasure in running always seemed so foreign to me. Sure, at the time, I was a box of Twinkies and an 8-pack of Mountain Dew (glass bottles please) north of four bills, but even beyond my excessive dunnage, I just couldn’t wrap my head around recreational running.
“You see, Clay, you get this ‘Runner’s High’, Man. It’s like all your endorphins are up and just swimmin’ around, Man. You’re just so hiiiiigh that you don’t feel like you’re even running anymore, Man. You’re just kind of floatin’. It’s the ‘Runner’s High’, Brother.”
I don’t get the “Runner’s High”. Not like, I don’t understand the concept. I get the idea that your body, under fatigue, releases endorphins and it can put you into this somewhat euphoric state best related to the feeling of being high on something.
I don’t get it. Like, I don’t experience it. I’d like to. It sounds like a pretty darn good time. But, apparently, I’m like this weird ‘straight edge’ runner. I don’t get high.
I’m sure there is an element of “letting go” that is necessary to get into that special place. That’s probably what’s holding me back. When I’m running, my mind is going a thousand different directions and running at a considerably faster pace than my poor feet are. That, on the surface, isn’t a bad thing though, right? I could be using that time to really think about my journey. I could think about ways to be a better husband, father and friend. I could really focus in on my spirituality and have quiet time with God. Yeah…. I COULD do all of those things… but that’s not how my brain works.
So, with a “race pace” five-miler on my schedule today (“race pace” means you try to stay at about the pace you plan to run the marathon at, which, for me right now, is about 9:45 per mile) I thought today would be a good day to actually share with you what I was thinking about during my 48 minutes when I could have been high. A little snapshot into my runner’s brain. And though it may feel like I’m making these up for comedic effect, I assure you, it’s just how I’m wired.
“When did we switch to calling these “compression shorts” instead of spandex? Do we call anything spandex anymore? What do Pro Wrestlers wear? They called them tights, but they were really spandex. Are those compression shorts? The name compression shorts feels a little on the nose. Kind of gross really.”
Yes, I spend time pondering the important things in life.
“Whoa! I think I almost fell right there. If I fall, I’ll probably break my wrists. I’m too much man and way too old to fall. Too old to fall is kind of like ‘Too Big To Fail’. I like HBO. I’m glad I didn’t fall. I’ll break something for sure. I could probably still run with a broken wrist. Whoa! Almost did it again.”
I wish I were making these up. For the record, I’ve not fallen while running… yet.
“Is that a bead of sweat rolling down my back or a bug? I hope it’s not a bug. No, no it’s definitely sweat. That’s gross. Hopefully it stops at my waistband and doesn’t roll into my…. ahhhhh… man…. ohhhh dude…. gross.”
Hope you weren’t having breakfast.
“Oh. Another runner heading this way. Ok, don’t stare them in, it’s creepy. Look down. Alright, do we go with the nod? Maybe the point? Do I go for the ‘Good Morning’? I don’t want to scare them. What if that say something? Please don’t let them go with “hot enough for ya?”… that’s the worst… The nod is probably the safe way to go. Awwww…crap… missed ’em.”
Yes, folks, I’m raising children.
“Say what you will about the guy, Bobby Brown just wanted to be left alone. He basically told everyone in this song. It’s his life. It’s his money. That’s his prerogative. The world IS a trip, Bobby.”
I probably need to update my iPod.
“Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot.”
Sadly, this is the one I think about most.
“The first guy who ever said ‘it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity’ had good intentions, but he really undersold it. Comparing heat and humidity doesn’t work. They barely belong in the same conversation. Heat is good. In the winter, we want heat. We need heat to survive. Humans evolved once cavemen figured out how to make fire. No one counts the invention of the humidifier as a turning point in the history of mankind. I hate this weather. I’ll take 110 degrees if the humidity is low. Yuck. I feel like I’m running in pudding. Hmmmm… I could eat pudding. Except tapioca. What a stupid word. What is that anyway? I have to Google that when I get home.”
Yep, I’m 40.
Now that I see it all on the screen, maybe I was wrong. Maybe I am reaching that “Runner’s High”. Perhaps I’m just not that laid back, contemplative, easy-going hippie-dippie stereotype. Maybe I’m more of that nervous, jittery, won’t shut up, over-thinking, “Did you guys hear something?” type of stoner. I mean, it sure looks like I’m on something. Though, sadly, that’s just how my brain works most of the time.
Whether or not I achieve the mythical “Runner’s High” can be left open to debate. When you get down to it, the most important thing is simply that the run got done. As scattered and random as our minds can be, as many excuses and distraction that we create to prevent ourselves from even walking out the front door to start. For all the times in the middle, whether it’s a run or anything else difficult in life that you’re trying achieve, we, all too often, try to convince ourselves that it’s too hard… and that it’s OK to quit. The fact that we see the run to end is what really matters. That’s where the endorphins come in. That’s where the euphoria is found.
For the record, tapioca is a starch made from the root of the cassava. I think I’ll stick with chocolate.