Luke is a senior at Marist College and runs for the school’s cross-country team. He has run 5 marathons and 1 ultra-marathon with a PR of 2:42 at the 2010 Philadelphia Marathon. Luke will be running his second Boston Marathon this April, hoping to break 2:40. He began running at 18 after being overweight for all of his childhood life and now loves every moment out there on the roads.
When friends, family, and even my girlfriend will ask me how long my training runs are, the almost immediate response usually is, “Wow! You’re crazy!” Insane, crazy, foolish, mental, looney, cuckoo, nutty, the list goes on; I cannot iterate how many times my mental state has been called into question for the amount that I run. I must admit that it has led me to pensively think about it and if I indeed need to check into rehab or even Runners Anonymous. It’s a thought that typically passes my mind. Yet, what crossed my mind today was the perfect retort and answer to this common proclamation that, I believe, is the truth.
I’m not crazy! You non-runners are the crazy ones.
I just don’t understand why running has been considered such an outcast type of hobby (with the exception of the 70s and that was thanks to Steve Prefontaine). Running, no matter your skill level, pace or past experience, makes you feel good. What other natural actions are there that emit as much tranquility as a 12-mile run in the rain? Running gives you strength, peace, happiness, confidence, and enlightenment. I don’t know why there aren’t more people out there using running to feel better instead of resorting to unhealthy traps like over eating, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, etc. Anytime I run, regardless of the pace, I always feel better afterwards.
Instead of running, a heavy majority of people (pun intended) prefer to be on the computer all day, playing video games, not being active and becoming wildly unhealthy. Eventually, as we have seen so many times, these people have health issues as a result of their poor choices. As the couch potatoes become lazier and lazier, runners become healthier and healthier and over time they continuing to feel powerful and more energetic. What’s so crazy about wanting to feel healthy, about having more energy?
It’s a natural movement for human beings to search for empowerment, be it through knowledge, job title, annual salary, physical dominance, what have you. Running is the most natural, easiest way to be empowered. It’s the one superpower humans possess, yet seldom use. As explained in Chris McDougall’s book, Born to Run, the human body is designed to run long distances. But instead of training for endurance events, our culture tells us that running long distances is asinine, extreme and foolish.
Even at weak points, we runners can take solace in the fact that every once in a while, we deserve that third (or in my case, sixth) slice of pizza, extra scoop of ice cream or that extra beer. Even last night, I had four scoops of ice cream after dinner. (Then I realized I better do some abs, pushups and pull-ups to make up for it. Ok, maybe I am a little bit out there.)
What does everyone else think: Am I being too harsh on the non-runners by calling them out?