Friday, September 4, 2009

Born to Run

I learned a secret today. One that absolutely blew my mind. Humans are born to run. Not only are we born and built to run, but we were built to run the longest distance of any animal in creation. Sure, many animals can run faster than we can, but they can't run the distances humans are capable of. The way their bodies are built makes it physically impossible for them. Cool huh? Which is why frequently in races of 50 miles or more, men will actually beat horses! (Don't believe me? I'm about to tell you where to find the facts.)

There are very few books that I consider to be life changing. Very few. There are books that I enjoy, books that evoke emotion, books that make me reconsider the way I had always thought about something and even books that make me want to do things differently. This book did all of that!

For all of you non-runners, please don't stop here!

This book is not just for runners. It's a fascinating look at our bodies and how they work and how they fit in with the rest of creation. But even though it's stuffed full of research and statistics that are jaw-dropping, it doesn't read like a dry, clinical study. It reads like a novel. I read this in one day because it's engaging, humorous and at times even suspenseful. My heart pounded through the last two chapters and I even cried a little at the end. I literally could not put it down.

Before my foot surgery you all know, I was "running" again. (I say "running" because after finishing this book what I was doing wasn't running.) I was slogging my way through 2 and 3 mile runs or an hour of speed work 5-6 times a week. Always dreading it beforehand, hating it during, and feeling relief when it was over. I hated running. I said it everyday. Running was sheer drudgery. But how else was I going to lose weight, get in shape and prove to myself that I wasn't just some suburban mom who "let herself go" once she had kids?

When I crossed the finish line at my first 5K, I was disappointed. Actually disgusted would be a better word. There was no moment of elation or feeling of accomplishment. I wandered around, pasting on a fake smile for my friends, while secretly wanting to cry. I instinctively felt like I could do better. Or do more. Or something. Even though I was dead on my feet, I had hated the run, I felt pushed to the brink, I was still upset because I felt it wasn't enough. So for the next three weeks, I upped my training regimen, paid closer attention to my re-fueling habits, and forced myself into more speedwork. At the next race I shaved two minutes off my time. Better? Yes. But I wasn't there yet. Already in my head I was concocting a plan. A plan to run a 10K in six months. And then a half-marathon. And shortly after that, a full 26.2 mile marathon.

I couldn't figure out where this desire came from. I hated running. I truly didn't enjoy it. I only made it through runs by cranking up the tunes and picturing all the cute clothes I would buy when I was finally "skinny" again.

Now I understand. We're hard wired to run. That's what the human body was designed for. So our complaints of "I can't run because..." "I get shin splints"... "It's too hard on my knees...." or simply "I hate to run" don't matter. Our bodies desire it, even if our brains are saying we don't. (And don't get me started on all the "Running is too hard on the body, try cycling or swimming instead..." propaganda. I'm not saying those aren't great exercise. the book, then you'll get it.) Truth is my body wanted to run, so I grudgingly did it. But I hated it because I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. (I already listed those reasons.)

Perhaps this rambling has gone on too long and you've all stopped reading long ago. So I'll just finish with one final thought.

I'm sitting here five and half weeks out of surgery and to be honest the next three weeks cannot go quickly enough. For the first time ever, I can't wait to run. I want to go out there and just take off and keep going. Just for the sheer joy of letting my body do what it was actually designed to do. Who cares about losing weight or proving to someone I'm tough? I honestly just want to run.


Angela said...

I don't love running but when I've done it I love it. Even if I can only do super short sprints. Anyway I'm sold and plan on reading this book too.

Jacob and Cami said...

I'm convinced I was born to eat food, particularly chocolate. I can't get enough of it with this baby.

Mollie said...

I LOVE this book. The next book I would recommend would be ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. It is a technique of running that Barefoot Ted uses. I run in my Vibram FiveFingers and I love them. I am coming off of a foot injury and want to make sure that I will stil be running when I am 80!