Today begins another installation of Why I Run, essays and other thoughtful words from a variety of mother runners who tell us eloquently and honestly why they, um, run. These will run off and on between now and January 6th.
We are always on the lookout for more essays, poems, lists, or however you want to tell us Why You Run; here are the guidelines. And if you want to spend some time reading past essays they're all collected right here, it's a great way to get inspired (and sneak away from the inlaws, if need be).
Without further ado, here's Sandra.
Sandra describes herself as "a writer, a mother (runner), and a recent grad school survivor." She blogs at Simply Bike and also tweets as @SimplyBike.
I had tried running without much success before, but it wasn’t until my first year of graduate school that I really gave it another shot. A friend of mine--tall, lanky, with really long legs--would make it around the park on a daily basis. Six miles round trip. The idea of running that distance blew my mind. The idea of doing it willingly and effortlessly didn’t even seem fathomable.
At the time, I was a “social smoker,” a few pounds over my ideal weight, and somewhat lost in the world. I had just finished a year of odd jobs and had moved to a new city, desperately in need of direction. While my Ph.D. work required that I sit in front of a desk, book, or computer most of the day, running allowed me to take a deep breath, quiet my thoughts, and head out into the fresh air.
It took a summer to finally be able to run three miles; a small loop through the park. By then I quit smoking and started eating better as well. Another six months later and I crossed the finish line of my first half-marathon. Six months later, I was lacing up to run a full marathon. There was no turning back, in every sense of those words. Once I started running, I couldn’t imagine not putting on those running shoes and heading out the door, combatting every fear and every worry about graduate school with that steady pound, pound of my feet hitting the ground.
I started running both at home and on vacation. Once, I was visiting my family in Romania and I went out for a run in the small town where my grandparents live. I noticed that I was the only one running, certainly the only one “jogging” just for the sake of it. I worried about the many stray dogs chasing me and I spent the majority of that run crossing from one side of the road to the other, always with a careful eye on the packs of dogs littering the city.
Running is a sport that requires little equipment, yet it still is, like most leisure activities, an act of privilege. A sport for those with time to run just for the joy of it. I often say, I need to run, but what I should say is, I get to run.
I run because it empties my mind; a mind that is always full full full. I run because I live in a place and time that allows me that choice and that freedom. Because I don’t have to worry about street dogs and physical labor and the cost of a pair of running shoes. Because I do have to use my mind all day long and because it’s nice to use my legs for a change.
I run because I finally did find my path and know my direction.