Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Who Are You?

I've been thinking. Who are all these runner people? What makes running so appealing to some of us and laughable to the other 99.9999% of humanity? Is it just competitive people? Driven people? Physical people? All of the above? From what I've noticed, there are the running info geeks who get all excited about stuff like heart rate and VO2max and lactic threshhold and stuff like that. Then there are people who just like to live on the edge and just push the envelope. You know, the I-ran-a-10k-and-a-half-marathon-on-Saturday-and-then-did-my-scheduled-20-miler-on-Sunday or the I-ran-50-miles-and-only-took-in-roadkill-for-fuel types. There are the folks who want to hang on to their glory days of college/high school athletics. Then there are the over-achiever type-A people who like running because running provides many opportunities to achieve greater and greater success.

I admit I am something of a hybrid, maybe a little (ok, a lot) heavy on the last personality type. When I was little, if there was an award to be won, I was out there trying to win it! Heh. I bet all the other kids secretly hated me. I remember busting my little 9 year old butt to win the mile run, the sit-ups per minute, and hold-yourself-over-the-bar challenge during presidential physical fitness week. In 5th grade my teacher mentioned that no kid had ever gotten a 100% on every spelling test in a quarter, so guess what I did! It's kind of silly. I was like a little trained seal that could easily be manipulated into do anything by offering up a gold star. So funny.

Obviously, I am little more evolved and a more complex person (at least I hope!) So, running is appealing to me for other reasons too. I like the insane focus I get into. Sometimes I get in this weird mind/body jedi state of being while I'm running. At the end of a long hard run and I so want to crawl to the car and take a bath in cold gatorade but I still have 3 miles to go, my brain just does what it has to do to get me there. Running is also very systematized and offers me structure and a very specific plan for achieving success. I like that. I never had any high school or college running glory days so it's definitely not that! I like pushing the envelope to some degree but I like training smart more. I like the intellectual side of running. I like learning about smart training and implementing what I learn and being disciplined and persistent. I like that training is this big science experiment. Hypothesis: do x y and z for three months and you'll run faster. Conclusion: maybe, maybe not.

Anyway, there's your deep (and random) thought for the day. I'd love to hear why you all like running if you feel like sharing in the comments.

6 comments:

Joseph P. Wood said...

Succintly put. Me, I'm not a stat guy; the art of running appeals to me, but to know the art, you got to know the science.

I'm definitely an envelope pusher, but like you, trying to balance is with maximum performance. Of course, look where that landed me.

Ultimately, I think Americans don't know themselves *physically*, and I love that conversation with one's physical and spiritual self running supplies.

And like the waffle racers. Those are cool...

GP said...

I-ran-50-miles-and-only-took-in-roadkill-for-fuel...

My god I love sitting alone in my office and audibly laughing as people walk by! Hee hee. Thanks for a nice start to the morning.

Speaking of roadkill, I love it on a good, long run. OK, I'm lying, but I did twist my knee once avoiding a poor raccoon.

But why do I run? I think I run because I was forever convinced that I couldn't run. I, too, was the kid who had to be the best and win all the awards, but by the time I finished high school and its sports, running was lost on me. There was always an excuse or pain. When I decided on the Ironman, however, I knew running would have to be part of it. I started out small and miserable... but then the addiction began.

Now I just enjoy it — the art, the science, the stats, the feeling. And some day I hope to enjoy being good at it too. We'll see.

Quinto Sol said...

I am definitely a numbers guy... BUT I run for other reasons: to be able to eat high calorie food (chocolate, pastries, beer) and not gain unwanted weight. Of course, the 'runner's high' is a nice byproduct.

I am not really competitive but I do enjoy picking off roadkill from time to time. Sadly, I do not have much talent... :-(

GP said...

OK, I might also run so I can eat cupcakes... and pastries. And large amounts of cheese. And chocolate. But not all at the same time. Well, maybe. Just not in the middle of a race. Immediately afterward... that's a different story!

E-Speed said...

I think I'm a blend too. I can't deny when I get to a race and I see a ponytail in front of me I want to pass her. I don't know what it proves but hey it's a race so I'm allowed to be like that :) I love numbers, I love comparing old stats, I love planning for a race by looking at the stats of runners who did what I want to do before me. I love the trails, I love the social aspects, I love the alone time.

I just love it all :)

Thanks for running with me last night! Hope I didn't slow you down too much!

Uptown Girl said...

Why do I run? I'm a numbers girl and sure, during a race I'm all about the numbers. Seeing those times drop, awesome. However, I find running to be a way to be at peace before what generally ends up being a full, hectic day in Manhattan!

Oh and come on...one has to love being able to run for food:-D