Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Healing Powers of Running

I suppose the title should actually say, "The Healing Powers of Whatever Type of Physical Activity You Enjoy Most" but that just doesn't have the same ring to it. Besides, although I am very biased towards running, being that it is my passion, I believe running itself does have a special ability.

I have been running for 12 years now. I have considered myself a true runner for probably ten of those years, starting when I began to run on my own outside of track season. This began the fall of my freshman year of highschool when I'd head to the track after school to do a solo workout of some sort. These workouts eventually inspired me to write a short piece I entitled, "These Eight Lanes" my sophomore year. I'll find a copy of it later and make a post out of it, but the bottom line of this short writing was that the track and the running I did there had become my sanctuary. My getaway. A place for me and only me. A place of clear-headed thinking and peace. The football team practiced on the field at this time, but somehow, even with them there, I felt in my own world.

I was going through a lot of internal struggle during that time in my life. (Come on... I was a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. Who isn't dealing with a lot of self-growth?) The best part of my day was when classes were over and I got away from studying, friends, gossip, drama, activities, sports and I had life to myself for an hour or so. The football players often times called me crazy but I told them it was relaxing for me. No doubt they thought that was nothing but crazy talk.

As I've grown older and been exposed to so many more runners and more running in general I now know that the relaxation I found down on the track years ago is a relaxation that so many of us can find through running. The older I get (and as I slowly become removed from the essence of running with a formal team) I am coming t know more and more people who run simply for themselves. Some are former high school or collegiate runners who can't give it up. Some are simply former athletes who still need that physical activity and fitness. However, many are people who were never runners. Maybe they weren't even athletes. But somewhere along the line, in defining their own life and the person they are, they have picked up running and I can help but see a trend of it happening to so many people at a time in their lives when they needed something new, rejuvinating and stable in life.

Running was the answer. Running continues to be the answer.

It gives you a sense of accomplishment. No matter how you felt before your run, no doubt you feel better afterwards. Even on the days when the run itself feels pretty crappy, you can feel renewed. Your head is cleared. It's just you and the path ahead of you. In the simplest terms I can find to describe what I find on my runs: it's a spiritual therapy.