This I Believe

craig - san mateo, California
Entered on September 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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I believe in running—and what it does for my mind, heart, and body.

I imagine there are a few non-runners out there who think we’re a little crazy. They see us on the sidewalks ahead of the sun, awakening our hearts and half-asleep muscles, for what?

Let me just say upfront: Though I may believe in running that doesn’t necessarily mean I always love it! Running is tough work, and there are days I question my resolve.

But I believe running is my best teacher.

Running teaches me discipline. In the same way a garden cannot be grown in a single day, a conditioned runner is born from work, rest, and nutrition—day in and day out.

Running is not an exclusive activity. I’ve seen all types on the trail (big, small, young, old) all working toward the same end. And there is no such thing as a “bad runner”. Although I may be impressed by fast runners, I am inspired by slower runners. Working twice as hard, they exemplify the very courage we’re all here in the first place.

Running teaches me to listen to my body. Inevitably there are aches and pains. Runners learn to recognize the warning signs and adapt our regimen. In doing so we learn to understand the fascinating world of biomechanics that is our very body.

Running is communal. Go ahead, just find your neighborhood trail one Saturday morning and I promise you will hear words of encouragement: “You got it”, “keep it going”, “almost there” from complete strangers. Often times I’ll run with them (sometimes they need me, sometimes I need them). We’ll pace in silence or distract ourselves with chatter. Either way, it’s a rare comradery with far reaching implications.

Running is a mental exercise. At one time or another a voice creeps into every runner’s mind: “I don’t feel like getting up this morning.” “I can’t make it up this hill.” “I need to stop.” In these moments it is your mind—not your body—that is tested. In fact, the story of every runner starts with the greatest mental obstacle of all, the day they finally wake up and profess: “Yes, today I will start running.” And that’s how it begins.

There’s so much more to running I can hardly fit it in. Running teaches me patience (when I’m tired or injured), running holds me accountable (as I stand at the starting line and wonder if I did my homework); running teaches me humility (when I try and fail); running gives me time to myself (as I lose my thoughts in the rhythm of my footfalls), and running gives me freedom (to chose any path and run to my heart’s content).

I think my wife summarized it best. “I used to think Runners were Superhuman.” She said, a recent adopter to the activity. “But I’ve since discovered new thresholds and redefined what my mind and body is capable of.”

I know from the outside we Runners may look a little nuts. Indeed, it is a Religion for some. But I hope you can begin to see that running is so much more than simply sculpting a healthy body. For me, it’s also about building a resilient mind and a tireless heart.

This I believe.