The Runner’s High (tf)

My wife is a runner, and a good one. She can easily put 3 to 5 miles behind her nearly every day.

I am not a runner. I tried it a few years back but it made me want to throw up so I stopped. I thought it the sensible thing to do.

But I admire runners. I don’t understand them but I admire them. And I sorta envy them too. They seem much more well-adjusted than I.

Think on it. Have you ever met a morose runner? Runners are optimists. Rain doesn’t ruin their day. They just put on a jacket and run anyway. They run when it’s 10 degrees and they run when it’s 100 degrees. After a run they’re positively glowing. Their energy level is actually increased. They talk a lot and seem afraid to stop moving lest they fall over. The only way non-runners can get this way is to do drugs.

This morning my wife ran in a 5k race. I was volunteered to help with traffic control so I was standing at an intersection about a mile from the start. Start time was 9am. Seems a beastly time to be up and about on a Sunday but runners are immune to such whining. Hundreds of them had signed up for the race, and they all seemed unspeakably jovial and quite willing to inflict pain on themselves.

This is the part I do not understand. It hurts when you run. If you enjoy running, it stands to reason that you enjoy pain. If you want to “get in shape” I’m told walking works just as well. To me running seems like getting wet and then setting yourself on fire to dry-off. Extreme overkill.

And yet….here they came. I suddenly felt extremely guilty for just standing there. Runners do that. They make you feel bad.

The guy in the lead flew by me. He seemed to be sprinting. He had a 10 second lead at least. Then the pack came through. I saw a 10 year old boy. I saw a 9 year old girl. I saw a 75 year old man. I saw some lunatic running in bare-feet. The lady in last place was at least 65 years old and 50 pounds overweight, but even she was running at a clip that would have buried me. And she was smiling. Ear to ear. What is wrong with these people?

I hopped in the car to get to the finish line. The leaders beat me to it, but I did make it in time to see my wife cross (a personal best and a 3rd place trophy in her age group). Me and the kids ate ice cream from the convenient store across the street while we waited. I noticed nobody else was eating ice cream. Runners eat bananas and drink water.

After the race everybody gathered for the trophies. My volunteering made me tired so I sat down. Runners don’t sit down. They all stand in packs and talk about running. Some were making plans for more running later in the day. A mere 5k to them is like me walking out to the mail-box.

I could never join these packs. I don’t belong. Part of me would like to. To experience what’s called “the runner’s high”, when the pain goes away and is replaced by something almost spiritual. I’d love to be able to experience breaking that tape with a mad sprint to the finish, pushing myself beyond what I considered possible. To leave pessimism behind by running away from it, towards something that makes the pain oh so worth it. For some, might it be like running towards the horizon and actually reaching it?

But for me? I can attempt to wax poetic. But it still seems enviable madness.

–Tom Flannery

~ by admin on June 5, 2011.

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