Born to Run has been recommended to me a few times in the past few months so I thought I should pick it up. I finally started listening to the audio version of the book yesterday and I could barely stop listening. It’s an excellent book! At least so far. It’s about the author, Christopher McDougall’s search for the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico. A search that began with a visit to his physical therapist when he was having foot pain from running three miles every other day. The doctor’s suggestion was to stop running. McDougall didn’t accept this as an answer. He was drawn to running; the primal aspect of it. The fact that running is what we do when we are both very afraid of something and it is what we do when we are ecstatic (look at kids running around on a playground).
I still have to read most the book but I’m really enjoying it so far. I find myself drawn to running for these exact reasons. I’ve been runner for most of my life, sidelined by injury much of the time as well.
Reading this first chapter made me think about my own running history and what I personally like about it. What keeps me coming back.
I was introduced to running by my parents. They were both avid runners back in the seventies when running was the big thing. I saw how it made them feel and I wanted some of those good feelings myself. So I was enrolled in a rotary track club when I was in fourth grade. I loved it. I wasn’t much into the “field” part of track and field. It was more the track that I loved. I tried various things. I started with the hurdles and liked it until I tripped on one and decided I wanted nothing more of that. So I focused on sprinting. I ended up excelling in the 100 yard and the relays. I was forced to pick a field event so I chose the long jump because it gave me another excuse to run fast.
And I was fast. I still remember the feeling I got when I was sprinting. It was amazing. It was like I entered this state where my legs would disconnect with the rest of my body and just took on a life of their own. I would let them fly. And they did. And I would win race after race after race.
It was kind of funny. Before a race would start the other girls would size each other up. I could feel them looking at me and thinking, “I’ve got nothing to worry about with this one” and I would smile to myself. Then the gun would sound and I would beat them. And they would look at me with astonishment and think “what the hell just happened?” I would would kind of wonder the same thing. I normally didn’t have much self confidence so the fact that I was actually good at this was kind of surprise. It felt good to win.
So I was in track through elementary school and when I got to junior high the track coach stopped me and said, “you’re joining the team, right?” and I told him I would. But you know what? I didn’t. I didn’t because there was this girl who joined track who was a bully and I felt intimidated by her so I chickened out. I’ve regretted the decision ever since. I joined track in high school my freshman and and junior years but it was never the same. I had lost that wonderful feeling I got when I would sprint and let my legs fly.
So I guess that’s why I run. It’s THAT feeling. that letting go and letting your body do what it was made to do.