Up Close Running

 run [ruhn] (v.): to go quickly by moving the legs more rapidly than at a walk and in such a manner that for an instant in each step all or both feet are off the ground.

I swear I started this blog to talk about books, I really did. I want to talk about running today though, so I’m sorry. Next time you’ll find something book-related, pinky promise. Running, though! The whole root of the activity has been on my mind a lot lately, as I’m training for my second half marathon. My first half marathon was in April, meaning that most of my training took place during the below-freezing and generally rough winter season that tends to dominate November through March in Iowa. In other words, I mostly trained for that one indoors, on a treadmill – something I now realize is not great for you, and ill-fitting to prepare one for a race.

My upcoming half is in about seven weeks, the beginning of November, timed that way so that most of my training could take place outside, and I wouldn’t have to kill myself during the uncomfortably humid and hot summer months that dominate the other half of the year here in Iowa. (Why do I live here again?) My training has been going alright. I have found that, especially compared to treadmill training, running outside is much harder. That may go without saying, but it’s just one of the things I’ve realized.

Another realization that has come from both my half marathon training and running in general is a sort of life lesson, so bear with me as I get philosophical. I hold the belief that the farther away you stay from someone or something, the better it is. As you get closer to any person or situation, the flaws, the tension, the unhappiness, whatever it is, become more evident. This may be a bleak attitude, but this is just something I’ve come to believe based on years of experience and a very introverted disposition. I’m fine with it, too. If someone or something is worth getting close to, there will be flaws and ugly things to face and move past.

Anyway, the contrary is true in running. From far away, I think running looks worse than up close, actually doing it. The base of the hill will never look bigger than it does when you first round the corner and see it from 200 yards away. You watch it looming, and you dread it, but then you come upon it, start climbing it prepared for the worst, and you find that it’s not actually as bad as it looked at firsts. The hill never looks smaller than from the base of it, and that’s comforting because it’s assurance that the harder you work, the easier it’s going to get. I mean, hills still suck. Some days I would rather burn my mouth repeatedly on hot coffee than get that four mile run in. Another example of how it’s worse from far away, though, because I rarely regret the four miles after they’re completed and I’m chugging water on my front porch.

Long story short, running gives me a lot of time to think, and this is what I’ve been thinking about lately. ◊

run quote

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