Sunday, October 30, 2005

Why Do I Run?

Why do you run? This is the question I get asked the most. And it’s the hardest question to answer.

Fitness is the most obvious benefit of running. That magnificent feeling when you can run up stairs without breathing hard? But I’ve seen runners suffering from all sorts of injuries still running. They’re not fit but they still run. Somebody put it very well once when they said “fitness is a stage on the way to becoming a runner”.

Staying in shape is another benefit. Losing weight and looking trim. But not all runners are slim and trim and they keep on running. There’s got to be something else that motivates runners.

Controlling stress. Running is supposed to reduce stress and it does. But is that enough reason to keep running?

What other reasons can there be? The feeling of accomplishment. The fact that it’s fun or social or challenging. There’s a little bit of each of these but none of them is enough to answer the question.

I don’t think there’s a simple answer. There are probably as many reasons as there are runners. I have noticed that runners tend to be active, achievement oriented and individualistic.

Maybe it’s one on those questions that can’t be answered. Like why are we here? How big is the universe? Why does a brown cow eat green grass and give white milk?

If you are a runner you will know it. You will feel that passion that makes you keep running whether it’s on your own or with others, whether you run races or your own routes, whether it’s every day or once a week or whenever.

Maybe it’s as simple as “I run because I must”. Either you are a runner or you aren’t. And if you are, you will know it and you will love it.

The photo shows me in the background and my buddy, Brian Marshall, during one of the many river crossings during the Addo Elephant 100 Miler in the Addo Elephant Park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa in April 2005. We finally finished in 28:33.

"Running is the classical road to self-consciousness, self-awareness and self-reliance. Independence is the outstanding characteristic of the runner. He learns the harsh reality of his physical and mental limitations when he runs. He learns that personal commitment, sacrifice and determination are his only means to betterment. Runners only get promoted through self-conquest."
-Noel Carroll, Irish track trailblazer

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Blogger is Born

There is something frightening in becoming a blogger. I think it's because the private thoughts that you always kept in your head suddenly become public domain. People always thought you were nuts but they had no proof. Now, they have the proof......

Running in AustraliaEverybody should have a passion in life. Not just an interest or something we think about occassionally. It should be our raison d'etre, our reason for being. I find my passion in running. I run anything. Track, cross country, road races and trail races. I run any distance from 100 meters to 1000 kms. I am a runner.

I have always had some interest in running but it was in March 1979 at the tender age of 27 that I officially became a runner. I bought myself a pair of running shoes and set out to run as far as I could. After 1500 meters, not even a mile, I ground to a halt. I turned and walked home. That 3 km route (1500 meters out and 1500 meters back) became my training ground. I ran that route nearly every day for months. Slowly I learnt the secrets of running like pacing and breathing. Only after I had mastered this distance did I try to run further.

I took me three years to build up to 8 kms. My body adapted to my new lifestyle and running became a part of my life. I felt fitter and more wide awake. I experienced the highs of regular exercise and my mind revelled in the new found freedom of thinking on the run. I discovered that running wasn't only a physical activity. It exercised all my dimensions, particularly my intellect.

This blog will be a mixture of intellectual thoughts and physical exercise but it will all revolve around my love of running. I will try and share the highs and the lows. The victories and the defeats. The experiences of half a lifetime of running.

The photo shows me running the Jindabyne Marathon in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. They claim it is the highest marathon in Australia. I think it was also the wettest. The road kill I saw on the route included a fox and 3 kangaroos.