Whenever I tell someone that I like to run long distances [I don’t like calling myself a “long distance runner,” even after completing a marathon – I think I reserve that title for ultra runners or triathletes or people who are much more hard core], I usually get one of two reactions:
- “Me too! When is your next race? I just did my first half marathon!” or some other excited, I-run-too type of response.
- “That’s insane. I could never do that. Yuck. That sounds completely miserable.”
There are the days you get blisters and the days you don’t, the days you sweat like crazy for no reason, the days you eat and hydrate properly and feel incredible, and the days when you’re 10 miles from home and your blood sugar is totally fucked up and all you want to do is collapse on the side of the road and hope someone comes to find you and give you a cookie.
There are the days when every step feels like pure magic, the days when you cross a finish line in front of hundreds of people and shake your head, knowing you could have done better, and the days when you break your own personal record on a lonely bike path near your house in the early morning sunshine without a single witness, your eyes filling up with tears as you realize just how far you’ve come from the day you first laced up your running shoes and could barely make it around the block.And then there are the most important days of all, the days where you understand that running is saving your life. Maybe not in a dramatic way where the alternative to life is death, but in a way where the alternative is just… existing, you know? Going through the motions of your life, but not really feeling anything at all. And believe me, there’s a big fucking difference between just existing and truly living.