I started running as a teenager out of overwhelming frustration and stress (oh those wonder years). Confused about how to deal with my then situation I pulled a Forest Gump and bolted out of the house and started running down the street… and kept running. Totally unplanned, wearing blue jeans, and no water. Forget complex carbohydrates, I had pure teenage angst fueling this run. In the end I think I only made it to the other side of the next town but it was great because I was so damn exhausted to even think about all those things that were gnawing at my brain at the time.
Gradually my runs became less spontaneous and more planned and deliberate. What started out as a way to exhaust myself from thinking had become a way to think more clearly. A running meditation if you will. No music, in tune with my surrounding, listening to the rhythm of my footsteps, awareness of my breathing, I feel like there is a real art to it and is very similar to traditional meditation in some ways.
Besides the physically fit advantages, I feel running has helped me on life’s journey and has personally shown me a path leading to better and brighter days. I’m more confident and can step out of my comfort zone more easily because of it. When I’m on those hot and sweaty long runs I kind of feel like I’m being purified and I’m recreating a better me. American Philosopher William James was quoted saying, "Beyond the extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own".
I don’t know if running is for everybody but it works for me. I you feel like you want to give it a go, give your body some time to adapt and you might surprise yourself by suddenly subscribing to Runner’s World Magazine. Unfortunately “Most people don’t run far enough of their first wind to discover they have a second” WJ.