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Why I Run

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I am at the top of the world. I am flying, past sixty-foot cacti, over the neat homes of ground squirrels lying meters below, through trickles of sunlight dripping down on earth. There is nothing more powerful than I. My lungs devour oxygen, my arms glide forward and back, forward and back. I run, and for just the short moment, I cannot want anything more than to keep moving one foot in front of the other, moving up and down the hills, for reasons numerous and compelling, simple yet indescribable. This is why I run:

Running is my anchor. It keeps me calm during the storms of life. When I’m overwhelmed and feel ready to rip somebody, not excluding myself, into five trillion pieces, I just find my running shoes, excuse myself from the house, and start jogging. I’ve tried other activities to relieve stress, but none of them work as well as running. Breathing deeply and sun saluting, I am hiding under the covers from the monster of tension trying to destroy me. With a good book, I can escape out the window and avoid facing the terrifying beast. But with running, I am given courage to step up to my stress and beat it until it lays writhing on the floor in pain.

Running makes me feel good about myself. It gives me a feeling of power, like there’s nothing in the universe that can make me less important. It gives me a feeling of health and a sense of worth. It gives me justification to take a somewhat eco-unfriendly shower, to eat three scoops of ice cream, to buy lobster at two dollars an ounce. Running frees me from guilt, from all feeling, and allows me to not feel, but just be. I am when I run, and that is enough for me.

Running is how I see beauty. My favorite place to run is Sabino Canyon, which is drop-dead gorgeous through my runner’s eyes. I fall in love with the canyon each time I run up its winding road encased in jutting rocks, succeeded by bunny-hopping rivers.

Running makes me part of a team. I have a niche in track and cross country, and the team respects my niche. They laugh with me, and at me. They run alongside me. And I laugh and run with them (and occasionally massage their backs with my feet).

But I’m a part of something even bigger than a team when I run. I’m an extension of God running, because I believe running is God’s way of telling me he loves me. This year, over Rodeo Break, I visited my cousins in Utah. Prior to the vacation, I had been battling doubt of God. There seemed no reason to trust the deity I had clung to since earliest childhood. My mom suggested that I visit my cousin, Kristen, who was dealing with difficulties similar to mine, and so I dropped in at my aunt and uncle’s house for the extended weekend. The second evening there, I verbalized my despair to Kristen for a spell. I told her my worries and waited, faithful for a hopeful response. She reassured me God loved me, I was special, important, loved, the same as I had been told every day beforehand. Then something new: “How do you feel God’s pleasure?” To my uninformative shrug of the shoulders, she voiced a reply, the exact pronunciation of hope: “Do you think running lets you feel God’s pleasure?” I pondered, and challenged, and experimented with, and examined the question. And now I say, if there is a Supreme Being out there, and he is good, and I can feel him, that I feel him and know him running. Running is how I recognize God.

There is no way I could ever be convinced not to run. It is an important piece of my life, as important as eating or laughing. Running is a piece of who I am, a kind of peace that brings balance to my soul. I run, and I am convinced I have very viable justifications for doing so. But the best reason to me is just because.



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