"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
-John Bingham, running speaker and writer
I am up early this morning getting ready to run my first road race of the year. Its an annual 3.1 mile (5K) road race held by a local running store. Yesterday, even though the plan said to rest, I decided to keep myself loose by running an easy three miler. Sometimes I rest before a race day and sometimes I don’t. I know one thing, this ole body doesn't seem to respond like it used to. Though I 'feel' like an eighteen year old, at least in my mind, my body is forever reminding me that those days have passed me on by. Friday as I was running, a thought raised up within me about my running and exercising. And it’s not just on Friday I battled this thought, but it’s a common battle of mind and spirit. Why run? I mean its not like I have a multi-million dollar contract with Nike or something. I don't have to run and try to keep in shape. I don't have to get up early, get in my car, shiver my way to the start line, and run a road race this morning! Especially looking out my window this morning and seeing two inches of snow on the ground! Why run? Why do this to myself? A lot of friends and people have expressed those same thoughts about me. Why or how come you continue to do that to yourself? Hence the page and blog title...R-U-nSane (Are You Insane?)?
There is no doubt in my mind running has its parallels with my own spiritual journey. The pitfalls I have encountered in trying to remain dedicated and disciplined to running has helped to reveal many things about myself. Strengths and weaknesses have been exposed, all for the working of my good! "I run because it's so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can't. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you're capable of so much more than you thought." (Arthur Blank) Running is truly a ‘spiritual’ journey that brings you far beyond the temporal thoughts of the earth. Whether you are running a 5K, Half-Marathon, Marathon, or an Ultra the battle resides deep within the will of the runner and in the depths of that run, you find yourself face to face with no one else but yourself. It’s a gut check, a character check, and so much more. Yiannis Kouros who could be classified as a legend in the world of Ultrarunning once explained what he was feeling when he was running. In an article he wrote published by Ultrarunning magazine in March of 1990 he stated, "Some may ask why I am running such long distances. There are reasons. During the ultras I come to a point where my body is almost dead. My mind has to take leadership. When it is very hard there is a war going on between the body and the mind. If my body wins, I will have to give up; if my mind wins, I will continue. At that time I feel that I stay outside of my body. It is as if I see my body in front of me; my mind commands and my body follows. This is a very special feeling, which I like very much. . . It is a very beautiful feeling and the only time I experience my personality separate from my body, as two different things."
Here I sit contemplating the question, why run? this first 5K of the ‘spring’ as I stare out of the window observing the freshly snow covered ground. My answer is complex and yet so simple. I run to obtain the most out of life, naturally and spiritually! Today, I know when I will finish this 5k road race I will receive a prize and truly the prize I will receive will transcend any kind of natural prize. As the well known runner and author John Bingham said,"What distinguishes those of us at the starting line from those of us on the couch is that we learn through running to take what the days gives us, what our body will allow us, and what our will can tolerate." You see, life is far more than what our feelings and carnal senses can offer us and there are worlds to see that cannot be perceived from the seat of the living room couch. While most people shun the agony and the seemingly grotesque consequences that comes with the word ‘discipline’, failing to see beyond the pain...I in turn understand and look to what happens AFTER the pain. And this is probably where most people disconnect and cannot see because you won’t know until you do and until you do, you won’t nor understand or see.
So, now I am ready to be delivered into the hands of a cold Michigan morning! But I know and I am assured that I do not run for naught! As I run I cast my mind toward the finish line, knowing by faith, it is there and in a not too distant future I will cross it! I will lay aside the layered clothing, and any weight that may hinder me from obtaining my vision! Whether I win the race or come in last, when I cross the finish line, I know how many inner ‘demons’ I have fought to finish the race. And because of this fact alone...I will have won the race! "In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that." (Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder)