Why I Run
Alison Meek, a D.C. resident who trains in Georgetown, shares her experience of becoming a long-distance runner. One mile at a time.
Sitting in the office the other day, I was talking to a client about the training I am doing for the half marathon. I detailed all the work I was putting my body through, how I ran in the snow, my new shin splints I am currently battling, but mostly I could not stop beaming about how I was so excited about the upcoming marathon in general.
Ever-so-polite, my client remained quiet most of the conversation, throwing in the occasional judgmental glance until finally saying, “Are you nuts, child? Why the heck does that seem fun to you? You must be insane.” In all fairness, it’s a reasonable question and I just smiled and responded, “Yes."
This is not the first person to question why running for a few hours at a time in arctic temperatures seems thrilling to me. The questions don't make me doubt my choice, but they did make me realize that a runner has a differently mentality. You have to when you choose to put yourself through the agony of running a marathon. I now think like a runner.
What pushes me out the door every single morning to put one foot in front of the other and run five, eight, or 10 miles you ask? I love the challenge and can easily fall into the arms of a competition.
I run because I want to see what I am capable of doing. Sitting in an office for forty hours a week doesn’t necessarily give me the opportunity to find out my limits and abilities (physically at least). I run to remind myself daily that I can set a goal and achieve it.
Sure, there are moments I feel like the training is breaking my body down (well literally, it is). There are times when the lactic acid building up in my thighs seems too much to conquer, my shins feel like anchors and I seem to gasp for air that never comes. But that is nothing when it's all over and pride and strength overpower any momentary discomfort.
Running is now such an integral part of my life; a part of my every day routine. I simply don't feel right if I don't run. And by "right," I mean I don't feel complete. There are things each of us do daily, and for me running is one of the daily things that I do.
Is it a need? Perhaps. But, it is also a want. There are of course the obvious health benefits not only physical but emotionally. The serotonin levels increase and anxiety and depression lessen. Enter the fabled “runner’s high”.
Ask some runners about it and they will tell you that it's intense. A sudden burst of energy that drives you farther causing your entire body to light up like a Christmas tree with surges of endorphins coursing through your veins- a natural source of pain release.
I take from running what I give to running. I give it my all every day. I give as much as I can, and even when I feel I cannot, I still go out there. But, running has given back to me so so much more. I feel strong and confident. I feel like I can support and motivate others to feel the same.
The “running community” is a pretty awesome group. I have yet to meet a runner or athlete I did not like or did not instantly feel an unspoken connection with. Team in Training houses a phenomenal group of individuals that I am constantly in awe of. They inspire me with their amazing attitudes and drive when we’re all huddled together in the wee hours come Saturday morning. They keep me motivated and excited about this new road I am heading down.
I have so many goals for the future. More races to be run. More PR's to be set and it will happen. If there is one thing I am positive about, it is running. It is sheer perfection.
Overall, the sport makes me feel better, physically and emotionally. I suppose that is why I put up with the early mornings, the frigid temps, the shooting pains and the extra effort; the pay off is well worth it to me. So am I crazy? Perhaps. But I am going to continue to pound the pavement and become the best I can be.