Running: It’s Not About Actual Running

What? He’s running a half marathon too?  This is bullshit!  Am I the only person in the world who can’t do this?  

Ah yes- jealousy. The origin of my running habit.

When my daughter went out for the cross country team she was excited and into it, and she wanted me to start running too. Besides, it seemed like everybody was running except me. The only place I ran was to the bathroom after too many hot wings.

It was depressing. Yet I was interested in running and wondered how so many people could do it.  Every time I tried it my chest felt like a bonfire. 

But when I watched my daughter and her teammates laying it all on the line at their middle school cross country meet, I knew I had to give this thing another try. I had done a little bit of sporadic running years earlier but never really got comfortable enough to do more than 2 miles.

So I started. Real slow. Lots of walking. My heart pounding as I labored over the middle school cross country course. I tried to listen to the coaching from my daughter, taking it easy and gradual. 

Ally, my running coach & daughter.

I won’t lie. It sucked! But after what seemed like years, despite being only a few months, I did run the junior high cross country course and felt half decent. Then I went to the roads and added an extra mile (3 total miles).  A few months later I ran the junior high cross country course twice (4 miles) and about a year after that I ran a half marathon. With my daughter.  And I was in freaking awesome shape!

Over the years my body would move in and out of top shape as happens when you have an adult life sometimes. But the change in my life remains. I am mentally stronger and more confident. Running, combined with yoga, informs everything that I do in my life, not so much from the physical standpoint, but from the mental.  I know I can do hard things, whether in running or in other areas.

I’m not going to break any speed records and I don’t care. I am part of a community I never saw myself existing in. And it all started because one day I decided to do it; to try it and to stick with it. I thank my daughter and all of those other runners who encouraged me, or made me jealous, or pissed me off. I needed that fire to be lit and now that it is, I’m not letting it go out.

Running isn’t really about running. It’s about doing things you didn’t know you could do or were reluctant to try. It’s about realizing that you can do difficult things well.

What challenge or problem is your personal version of “running”?  Engage it.  Let it teach you about yourself.  The time and energy you spend with it may have a lasting and positive impact on your life.

For more stories subscribe to my personal blog at Five O’Clock Shadow or Pointless Overthinking.

11 thoughts on “Running: It’s Not About Actual Running

  1. I love this post. You’ve nailed exactly what running means to me, too. It’s empowering, as is the wonderful, welcoming running community.

  2. I like the idea of Qi/Chi running- much more pleasurable in a meditative state. As a kid, I would hear the music to Chariots of Fire, which helped sustain the mood. I like to warm up with some taichi and then cool down with some jump rope and shadow boxing. Thank you Todd.

    1. Thanks for reading Ari! I have a friend who talks often about Chi running. And I definitely love when a long run leads to that meditation mode. 🏃‍♂️

  3. You are so right when you say it’s not about actual running. I feel you. It’s all in the mind. And it feels so good. Running is a relatively new thing for me too! Thanks for writing in such simple ways.

  4. Me too! Zero exercise from age 14 to 37. Now I love running, not for the run but for the peace, the sense of physical well being and the reward of feeling that I achieved something every time I go out irrespective of pace or distance.

  5. I run the London marathon once. It was amazing but sadly my back has never forgiven me. (I ran through an injury.) Now I stick to swimming, biking, hiking and yoga. I think the community is important whatever sport you choose. Wonderful post Todd. 🙏

    1. Thanks AP and congratulations on the marathon! Just qualifying for London is quite an accomplishment isn’t it? I hope to do my first marathon this year. I hope your back is keeping its act together 👍

Leave a Reply