This winter I stayed serious about my running all the way through. On school days, I would walk my son to school in my flimsy running shorts, so that I could start running after dropping him off. So there I would be, shivering in the cold, and the question would come, “What are you training for?”
I’ve been running semi-regularly for about four years now (maybe longer, but I can’t really remember). Slowly, I’ve realized that there are as many different types of runners as there are people. All those people who I see running around town are doing it for their own reasons.
A lot of them do it as a social activity, meeting up with friends and talking while they run. I’m too anti-social for that. I much prefer to concentrate on my gait and breathing and just running. I pass them out there, catching snippets of mostly white-people conversations about money or sex or status and I just don’t get it. How can they pay attention and jabber on like that?
Many of the people aren’t really runners at all. They’re training for a race or something like that, just another item on their bucket list. I don’t really understand that either. I’m not particularly interested in the whole ‘have to run a marathon’ thing. I’ll probably do it eventually, but not until that kind of distance isn’t such a stretch.
The gear mystifies me too. Every once in a while I pass a runner (and usually I am the one doing the passing), that is loaded down with gear. A fancy hydration pack or one of those running belts festooned with water bottles go jostling along. At first I just mocked their over-geared style, but a buddy pointed out that if it helped them run, it was worth it. I’ll concede that.
For some people, running is just a means for something else, be it meeting people, ticking off boxes in the game of life, or accumulating toys and gear. It’s something for me too, of course. I definitely take pride in talking about how far and fast I’ve been running. It feels like such an accomplishment after the hard work of those first few miles.
I started running as a way to round out my fitness. I was commuting by bike daily to an average of 60 miles a week. My daily ride was no sweat, but running a mile was nearly impossible. I kept on running just to do it, just to be able to run further and further.
When I transitioned to minimalist shoes, I had a new goal: stronger feet. I started over and I ran those hard first miles until they were easier again. My legs ached and I was afraid of stairs for a while. I kept at it and everything got stronger.
I quit my day job to be a stay at home parent and I ran to keep my activity levels up. Then I started running farther. According to Nike+, I run 3x more miles than other dudes in my age range. I try to keep that in perspective when other people I know run marathons or ultras.
Mostly I run for me. I don’t even talk about it too much (other than all those Facebook posts from Nike+). I think that Mrs. Portmandia likes to tell people about it more than I do. Then every other day I do it. I run far and I wonder about all those other people who I see running about.
So I answer the question, “No, I just like to run.”