On Running in Circles

My new running shoes look and feel great. Now, if I only loved to run.

I run a few times per week. No marathoner, I run around three miles, and that’s enough for me. I get a nice little cardio workout, enjoy time rocking to some great music, and tune out just about everything else. When I’m done, I’ve got a great sweat going, and I feel like I’ve exercised.

The one part of my running routine that’s missing is the part where I love doing it. I run because it’s easy exercise. It’s a great off-day exercise between gym days, and, perhaps most importantly, it’s pretty uninvolved. No machines necessary, no trainers, no special anything, really. If you’ve got a half decent pair of shoes, you can run. You don’t need the latest and the greatest running gear, although, take it from a veteran, some anti-chafing glide gel is your best friend. I’ll spare you the back story.

I’ve heard about “the runner’s high,” the zen-like state that some runners achieve. I can only assume that life’s mysteries are solved around mile 7 or later, because I’ve never run more than 6.5 miles at any one time. I’ve never experienced this Nirvana, and, maybe if I had, I’d love running more. Instead, I plod along, my energy and enthusiasm almost exclusively tied to the song playing on my iPod.

My current route is a large circle around my neighborhood, so, in fact, I run in circles, which is only slightly better than the bad-weather days I run on a treadmill resulting in running and going nowhere at all. I’m pretty sure if I loved running more, I’d seek out adventurous, non-circular running paths. Maybe I’d join a running club where we’d all wear matching (dorky) running jerseys and running shorts that seem impossibly and unnecessarily short. Or maybe I’d enter lots of ultra-marathon races, continually pushing to beat my best time, pumping my fist wildly as I broke through the finish line tape to wild shouts, applause, and camera flashes. Nike and Adidas would fight over sponsoring me, and Men’s Health Magazine would beg to put me on the cover. None of that will happen, but I guess it could.

My relationship with running and its lack-luster quality isn’t unusual. When you think about it, people usually end up running in circles, or going nowhere at all, precisely when they are doing things they don’t really love. No inspiration. No energy. No desire to do anything different. Truly just going through the motions. And, you know, maybe that’s just fine. Not everything can be a thrilling, life-changing experience. We need the mundane so those life-changing experiences can really mean something.

It’s too bad our culture doesn’t embrace the mundane more. We hop, skip, and jump from one “awesome” thing to another so much that “awesome” no longer really means anything. We are always “taking it to the next level,” never stopping to ask what was so bad about this level. I guess that’s progress.

I’m going to keep up the good fight. My boring, uninspired running is good for me. It may not be sponsorship-worthy, but I’m dedicated to it. And that’s enough for me. Next time you’re driving down the road, you may see me. Sweating, slightly pained expression, shuffling at an incredibly unimpressive speed, no smile, putting in the miles. Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m just running in circles…and meaning to.

One thought on “On Running in Circles

  1. I really enjoyed this. Found myself chuckling out loud a couple of times. I guess I could see myself in it. Not that I run. But if I did…

    Sent from my iPad



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