Running to Learn About Yourself

This is one of my favourite quotes from Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen:

But yeah, Ann [Trason] insisted, running was romantic; and no, of course her friends didn’t get it because they’d never broken through. For them running was a miserable two miles motivated solely by size 6 jeans…But you can’t muscle through a five-hour run that way; you have to relax into it, like easing your body into a hot bath, until it no longer resists the shock and begins to enjoy it. Relax enough and your body becomes so familiar with the cradle-rocking rhythm that you almost forget you’re moving. And once you break through to that soft, half-levitating flow, that’s when the moonlight and champagne show up: ‘You have to be in tune with your body, and know when you can push it and when to back off,’ Ann would explain. You have to listen closely to the sound of your own breathing; be aware of how much sweat is beading on your back; make sure to treat yourself to cool water and a salty snack and ask yourself, honestly and often, exactly how you feel. What could be more sensual than paying exquisite attention to your own body? Sensual counted as romantic, right?

There are a couple things I love about what ultra marathoner Ann Trason says about running being romantic:

  • Loving running. If your motivation to run is to lose weight, or to try to impress people or to prove something to someone other than yourself, then you likely won’t have a good time of it. If you don’t love running, then you probably aren’t going to like it either.
  • Being in the zone. There is no better feeling to me than when I’m not even thinking about running anymore and it’s like breathing. It’s just happening. My legs are moving me forward and it’s all just so automatic and easy. It’s not often that I’ve felt that I could run forever, but boy is it ever a great feeling when it happens.

Running lessons applied to life

There’s so much about running that I end up applying to other areas of my life. Addressing self-doubt, pushing myself to get outside of my comfort zone, taking time to myself. There’s a lot about me, but that’s exactly what Trayson is getting at. Running gives you that time to devote to yourself for those few hours and in those hours, you can learn so much about who you are and what you are really capable of.

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