I’m out on the porch for the first time this year, temp in the mid-70s. Our new neighbors are having a party, with Greek music blaring, and I’m hoping they don’t make this a regular thing. But this seems to be a big family gathering, so I can handle it.

My purpose was to write a post pulling together the strands of the response to my “Why We Run” post. I started doing so, but gave up, figuring that each of the comments deserves viewing on its own. If you haven’t read those entries, you should.

I don’t know that I answered my own question. I’ll try. I put my running background at the end of this post. I started running because I wanted to be an athlete, because I liked the feeling of being one. To the original question, Why I Run, the answer may have come from what Jaymee wrote. She’s been going through a major injury, and that brought back to me how I felt when I’ve been injured in recent years. Not running simply leaves a void. The comforts enjoyed when I would otherwise be running — in the heat or the cold or the rain — paled next to how I felt when I ran. The anticipation, sometimes with trepidation, the good and the bad of the run itself, the post-coital glow.

I find it therapeutic but I don’t find my head cleared or solutions reached by my runs. I sometimes draft brilliantly-constructed posts on runs, though much of the eloquence is lost soon after the run is completed.

More important, running is something that I think I do well, that I think I can improve upon and is something about which I can be passionate. In some general sense, of course, my spare time and energy could better serve other purposes.

It’s selfish not to of course. I’m not angling for beatification though. Running helps give my life meaning, pitiful as that may sound. It stresses me out in a way that many cannot comprehend and it fulfills me in a way that many cannot understand. It’s silly. As I was racing yesterday, it occurred to me that there were hundreds, perhaps thousands, like me. It was an event of no consequence. Our times would be recorded, our trash would be collected, and there would shortly be little evidence that we had ever been there. Yet countless blog and diary entries would be made of the event and countless runners would savor the memory of the race.

It’s pat, of course, but I run because I’m a runner.


I have no hand-eye coordination. I loved running around in grammar school, just running and running, chasing kids in a game called salougy (I have no idea how it’s spelled). The rules were simple. There was a ball, and the winning team was the one that got the ball to the line to which we were called at the end of lunch. This was at Immaculate Conception School in Tuckahoe. I was a lunatic and went home in torn pants more than once. I would have been a good rugby player, just diving into a scrum. It was keep-away with two teams.

I hit the ball once one year while in grammar school playing baseball. It was a foul ball, but I made contact. Baseball was not my game. I couldn’t catch, throw, hit, hit with power. In theory I could run though.

I started running as a freshman. I missed the organizational meeting for freshman cross-country and thought that meant I couldn’t be on the team, so I waited until indoor. I wasn’t very good as a freshman, running the 440 and 880. I got better in sophomore year, after daily runs over the summer. Long story short, by my senior year I was one of the top quarter-milers in the county, breaking 50 on a relay leg at White Plains HS. I ended up at Manhattanville College, a small school in Purchase, NY, where we had an almost informal cross-country team, consisting of a couple of runners and guys on the basketball team. When I was a senior, the team was no more.

I resumed running when I was in law school, in 1978, and I’ve recently written about my first road race. The rest is history, good, bad, indifferent. From 1979 until about 1985, I took the sport very seriously. I then thought of becoming a cyclist, and had my USCF license. In part I figured I was built more as a cyclist than a distance runner (which I still figure), and I rode some road races and a time trial. I loved the feeling of powering on my bike, and frequently rode the Gimbel’s Ride, taking more than my share of turns at the front.

I ran at the same time, but got into a cycle of despair. I pounded my runs and dug myself into holes. I’d get tired from running too hard and stop and the next run would be worse, as I had to make up for the prior day’s failure. It got to the point where I was stopping perhaps half the time.

One day, I decided I wasn’t going to stop again. In the eight years or so since making that decision, I’ve stopped maybe five times for non-injury related reasons, when I’m hurting too much. Otherwise, I soldier on. A complete change in my mental outlook. Don’t beat myself up in runs and even if I struggle I almost always finish.

This turned things around for me. I accepted the reality that I couldn’t go out and hammer all my workouts and I couldn’t run as fast as I used to. With acceptance came resolution, to do as well as I could with my limited tools. I also realized that while running is harder than cycling — although blowing up on a bike is quite unpleasant — and much as I enjoyed riding, I didn’t do what running did for me. Return

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