By Dr. Michael Cerami
We all run for different reasons. Some of us want to get in shape or lose weight. Others run to train for a race to test their body, compare their efforts, and see what they are made of mentally and physically. Some people run to feel good, or just to get away and contemplate and shut off the noise of the world. I suppose I run for all of these reasons and more. Besides being inexpensive and pretty easy to do anywhere at almost any time; running gives me freedom, that primal feeling of simplicity that I can’t get anywhere else.
Running also gives me perspective on life. It provides quiet introspection. That’s why I never run with headphones if I need some internal connection time. When I see another runner out there I give them the space of acknowledgement of our shared passion. Maybe they are plodding and you are cruising. Maybe you feel great and they are suffering or even walking. When that happens, I try and be the Humble Runner. Some people want to be vocal (Good Job!) and if that’s your thing that’s fine. I personally find just a quiet nod of acknowledgement is all they really need to do. A brief moment of direct eye contact and a little shake of my head or index finger tells them I understand. I understand on some level why you are out here even though I could never fully understand your reason or your life.
The nod is simply that: We’re in this thing called life together; we enjoy feeling alive and being out here no matter how hard or easy it might feel at this moment.
I try and create a sense of community by sharing our love of running.
Running is also great because it can be so simple or as complex and structured as we want. Just don’t judge what the next guy or gal is doing. Maybe they ran competitively for 10 years and now have found the joy of running with no goals, no commitment or technology. The next person might have just discovered how cool it is to have a GPS watch where they can download and view all their splits, heart rate averages, elevation and share it with their friends. There is no right or wrong approach to running and if you run long enough, you’ll probably go through a few cycles of simplicity to complexity like I have. I would just enjoy the ride and follow your heart to what makes you happy.
Some recent experiences in my life have allowed me to focus more on the important things in my world. Now, every time I go out to run I practice being appreciative and grateful that I can still move my body like this. I understand that I don’t get to do this forever so I had better enjoy it NOW. I Feel the pleasure AND the pain. It’s how I know I’m alive. I’m thankful for what I have and people that share my life.
Running gives us the opportunity to feel more; almost instantaneously if we let it. Instead of dreading your next run because it’s cold or dark or on the treadmill, think back to the joy of running. Remember back to that day when you first ran as a child and laughed as you ran because it was so new and so cool it seemed like you were flying. Start flying again.
Dr. Michael Cerami owns Utah Sports and Wellness and has been a competitive triathlete for over 18 years. He is available for a no charge consultation one Saturday per month at The Salt Lake Running Company (700 East store) by appointment. He can be reached at 801-486-1818 or online at www.utahsportsandwellness.com