This was a great morning for a run. Summer has definitely arrived, but the temperature at 6:00 was barely into the 70s, and the humidity wasn’t oppressive. That was one aspect of living in Florida that I never got used to… soaking humidity all the time. This morning’s run was 4 miles on my “hill route”, a series of rolling hills through the areas around my house. The roads are fairly busy, even at 6:00 a.m., so I can’t say this was a relaxing run, but I enjoyed it still.
Running was the first sport I really ever considered. Although I wasn’t athletic at all as a kid, I do remember being so inspired by watching Frank Shorter win the marathon gold in 1972 that I chose to run home from my friend’s house that night. I also vaguely remember being really sore the next morning, and probably not running again for years. But that was my first recorded run.
For some reason, running was always the exercise of choice in most of my “fitness binges” as I got older. Once I entered the military, running was mandatory (at least once a year during the PT test). I eventually progressed from suffering through it to enjoying it. Now, even when I run, ride and (occasionally) swim, running is always my default activity.
I think that perhaps I’m attracted to the simplicity of it, regardless of how hard we try to complicate it. High tech shoes, special clothes, GPS watches… I have them all, and they all serve their purpose, but they also serve to complicate something that should be pretty pure and simple. Christopher McDougall says that we are “Born to Run” (so did Bruce Springsteen, by the way, and much more eloquently). While I’m not sure I agree with that, and definitely don’t buy some of the conclusions in his book, I do know that it’s hard to beat running as exercise simplicity. I remember being deployed early in my AF career, and the nav on my crew asked if I wanted to go for a run during an afternoon off. We met up at the appointed time. He was decked out in a matching singlet and shorts, really nice shoes, and an early generation sports watch (this was a long time ago). I was surprised by the first words out of his mouth… “Oh, you’re a real runner.” Apparently, my worn out gym shorts, faded T shirt, and basic Nikes told him I’d run anytime, anywhere. Guess I’d never realized how true that was.
While I’ve had as many periods of not running as I have had running consistently during my adult life, it always feels right when I come back after a time off. Make no mistake, this is not nirvana. I’m sore after long runs, sometimes I dread the early morning wake up, and I secretly wish that my local terrain was a little more like the flattened landscape of Florida. But the simplicity of a run lets me think through complex problems, sort things out in my head, and sometimes just not think at all (although many around me would argue that I often don’t think at all). No gears to grind, no tricky breathing patterns… just one foot in front of the other. Sometimes that’s the way life should be.