Friday, January 11, 2013

Why are we doing this?

Back in my obsessive running days, my family used to run regardless of anything. Not for us the treadmill! We ventured out in horrible winds, slick ice, deep snow, strange green sky. Sometimes as one of us would trudge past another, we would say, "Why are we doing this?"

There really wasn't a good answer beyond this: Fast or slow, a run, a hike, a ski reminds me that I'm part of a big, interesting world. It seems like my body craves some kind of movement, that sometimes it's the natural state of being. Cooped up with the computer, I forget how great life is. I remember it when I am outside.

I thought of this as I went out for a run yesterday. We were in the throes of a winter storm and the plows had scraped the streets bald to the ice layer. The main streets that is. We take our chances on the side streets; those are rarely touched by a plow. I had forgotten my ice grippers and didn't feel like going back for them, so I beelined for the fail safe option, the tiny park. Only the park was adrift in snow. I floundered in the powder, realizing that my first mile was a blazing 13:56. Would a sane person have gone back? Probably. Instead I decided to take my chances on the lake road. As I descended from the park I saw another runner.

"It's a challenge!" I screamed over the howling wind. She went on anyway, but I looked back and saw her expression of dismay as she plunged ankle deep into the fresh snow.

The park in freezing fog.
My pace improved marginally as I navigated the crusty side of the road, but it never got above a ten minute mile. I saw another runner hoofing it up the big hill, blasted by snow (our county is tough like that). Why am I doing this, I wondered. This run veered on the side of ridiculous.

Why am I doing this? The answer has always been the same.


  1. Your run sounds way more fun to me than a calculated tempo workout on a nice day. Living in California, I'd never survive marathon training. I need to inject more adventurous variety into my daily routine than that kind of discipline can provide. But I might just be able to stick it out if I lived where you do and trained through the winter. I once told a friend of mine, "You are good at fast. I am good at ridiculous."

    But I agree that any run that gets you out into the world is a good one.

  2. We both know you could hold a faster pace, but falling isn't and hurting yourself isn't much fun.

    I used to love running in the storms (we don't get them here). The world was all mine. I totally get you.

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  4. "why are we doing this?" I remember well those years, and we still say it! Your answers are good ones. Now all we need here in the north is snow and storms!


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