Friday, July 27, 2012

Running, Self and Happiness

For the most part, running has always been about me. My strengths, my weaknesses, my happiness, my joy, my achievements. Recently Ive been thinking a lot about running and how happy it makes me. I read this blog post by Amanda at Running Hood, and agreed with a lot of what she spoke about regarding the pure and simply joy of running, and how lifeless and dull our days can be without it.

And then I realized I respectfully disagreed. Or at least I want to disagree.
Running makes me happy. I get a lot of joy from it. It is my time to commune with my God, and take my physical and spiritual growth to new levels.

But what happens when I cant run? When I've been injured? I'm unhappy.  And I don’t actually want that for myself. I want to be happy to run, but I don’t want it to be so all-consuming that I'm only happy when I'm running, and dark and depressed when I cant.
Now, note I'm not talking about downgrading the importance of running in my life or lowering my running goals. But there is a fine line between something being of utmost importance to you, such that you put a lot of effort and work into doing your best at it, and something being so all-consuming that you allow it to control your emotional reality.

The concept that I can emotionally/spiritually disassociate from running, but still maintain my high goals, actually came from Kara Goucher in her book Running for Women. Kara writes that she considers herself a person that likes to run but does not consider herself a runner. That is because she does not solely identify herself through running, and her emotional reality is not driven by whether or not she laces up. And yet, the girl is an Olympian!
So what happened when I gave this a go; that is, being happy to run, but making sure (or trying at least) that my happiness is not being solely driven by running?

Funnily enough, running has actually made me more happy. I ran recently, with someone from my church who has participated in starting a beginners’ running group. She expressed that she was so happy to do it, despite that it has slowed her down a lot, because she has had to run slower paces for the newbies than she would ordinarily run. It was serving others - not the running itself - that increased her happiness.

And just running with her that day, a very slow 10 miles, despite have a slightly higher pace in mind for myself, made me happy. Despite it being outside of my training plan, the fellowship and love and laughs I shared with this friend – including her story about the beginners – lifted my spirits and reminded me that running is a journey. Not necessarily the end-goal. Running takes you places. How you deal with the destination is the gritty awesome stuff.
So to sum up my lesson learned here:
(1) Running brings me joy. But I don’t have to run to be joyful.
(2) Relinquishing running from being all about me, and the sole deteriminator of my happiness, releases me to use my running to serve others through it;
(3) Running still - and will forever - rock my world. And thats totally ok.

#LR1 Penny

What place does running have in your life? Do you get depressed (or elated) when you cant pound the pavement for a while? How do you deal with that?

1 comment:

  1. Totally do get depressed - and seeing as I'm not elite, any reason why I can't pound the pavement is usually because I have screwed something up or didn't listen to my own advice (exactly why I am standing here with a ace bandange wrapped tightly around a very angry lower calf/achilles due to running too many fast miles last week in low-heel drop shoes).