Friday, October 16, 2015

Why I Run

Hello again!  Man, I go a few months with only 1 post a month, if that, and here I am posting 3 in 2 days.  I'm just full of inspiration.  I will say I have a lot more I'd like to talk about, but I'm really struggling to wrap my head around some things and put into words what I'm trying to say.  If I can figure it out, I'll let you know.  That being said, I wanted to write today about why I run.

There are a lot of reasons why I started running.  I wanted to lose weight, it was something that was hard for me, and I wanted to get better, all the 'cool' kids did it, maybe even as a way to bond with my dad, the high school and college track star.  But none of those reasons really explain why I continued running.  For a long time, if someone had asked me why I continued running I'd have given them pretty much one basic answer.  I'd have said I got a great endorphin rush and the exercise kept me from becoming to anxious.  But there's more to it than that.  To do explain, I have to tell you a short story.

Back in college I studied music, and as part of my studies I took both piano lessons and voice lessons.  I'll never forget one particular week where both of my teachers in these subjects essentially told me the same thing.  They told me I needed to expose my soul.  Here I was, singing and playing my heart out, thinking I was being super expressive, and they told me they just weren't feeling it.  I needed to expose my soul.  Honestly, I really didn't know how to take that.  I've always thought of myself as a fairly open person; I don't really have much to hide, so I had no clue how to expose more.  After being told this, I started to notice this phrase (or some variation) popped up quite often in my life.  But, still I had no idea how to apply this to myself. I thought I did it when I was singing a song about being homesick.  I mean, I was as homesick as they come.  This was a subject I could really relate to.  Alas, no.  My instructor simply told me I was sharing enough of myself.  At the time I was frustrated beyond belief.  Now I think he may have been right.

So this leads me back to running.  For a long time I wondered if I ran to escape my emotions.  I mean, if I can't expose my soul in music then I must really be working at repressing emotions.  But I never really felt like I had anything to run from.  Running has always felt like I'm headed towards something, not away from it.  I had kind of settled on running as a way of meditation.  The deep breaths, the rhythmic pattern of my feet and breath, even the sound in my ears.  Yes, meditation.  And that almost hit it, but I don't always feel relaxed and calm after a run.  Even after good runs, I often feel slightly more agitated...slightly more exposed.

And finally, today, it dawned on me.  I run because running allows me to expose my soul.  After a run, I'm tired.  The better and longer the run the more tired I am.  In the end, I don't have any energy left to hide my true self.  Some of my best cries have been after wonderful runs.  I'll be happy but exhausted, I will have spent the past X miles thinking about various topics so there's nothing clouding my mind, and suddenly I will be hit with some emotion.  Somehow running allows me to tap into that part of me that I often keep hidden, even from myself.  It allows me to turn off my brain for long enough to truly feel my emotions.  I can't begin to explain the joy this brings me.  I'm able to feel every emotion I've buried deep within; every emotion that I normally only scrape the surface of: joy, sorrow, anger, it's all there.  Running allows me to actually feel it.

Now, I'm not saying I feel every little emotion with every single run.  Sometimes I run just to hang out with friends, and sometimes I run because I had too much cake (on my birthday), but that wouldn't keep me running in the long haul.  I run because I finally get what my instructors were trying to tell me years ago.  I run to expose my soul.

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