Friday, June 20, 2008

Why I Run

ORN: 5.2 miles, 49:34, R6/W1, 9:33/mile

About 3 hours into last Saturday’s 22 mile run, I mulled just why an otherwise seemingly sane man would do such a thing. On the one hand it is laughable…getting up at 4:50am on a Saturday morning to fit in a 4 hour run before a family event seems absolutely nuts. On the other hand, it made perfect sense.


For me, there is clearly a personality/temperament component. On any personality test I’ve ever done, I fall dead center on the extrovert/introvert scale. I like to be with people; I have to get away from people. I feel equally about both statements. In this instance, my experience squares with the tests.

In my job in manufacturing management, I’m with people a lot. I feel strongly about having an open door policy…people know they can walk in any time, and so they do. I spend as much time as I can on the shop floor, with our associates and supervisors. We solve problems; we keep things moving. The last few months have had some wonderful but complex things going on, which has required more people time than usual.

In my personal life, it has been an intense few months as well. Out of town visitors, lots of committee work at our church, even umpiring 1-3 baseball games each week force me into lots of contact with others. Again, all good stuff, just lots of it.

So, three hours into a long run on Saturday, I was just reveling in the moment. And the reason I was reveling suddenly hit me…running provides me with the necessary balance in the introvert/extrovert thing. I simply go out and run. No one else is crazy enough to come along. I’m by myself. When I run, I think, I pray, I mull, I sing, I analyze. I have never had an interest in carrying music on my runs. I don’t do group runs, even though our local running club has them weekly. I don’t run with friends. None of these things ever has had any pull on me. And it hit me Saturday I naturally crave the time alone, time I can just be with myself and my thoughts. It is the time during which I feed the “introvert” side of me.

Now, before you write me off as an anti-social recluse with deep-seated issues, please let me state this blog serves as a wonderful way to stoke the real extrovert side of me. Talking endlessly about splits, training, races, ITBs, shoes, Gu, humidity and Garmins bores the daylights out of virtually everyone else I know. But not here…we have a wonderful community with which I enjoy connecting. All of you regular readers mean more to me than you can know. As was probably evident in my recent Notre Dame race report, I loved having John here to run with.

And there are lots more reasons why I run as well. I love being in good condition; I love running all year in all kinds of weather; I love planning training; I love going to races and running, there, with others.

And I love training alone.

Thanks for listening. And keep persevering.


david said...

It is all about balance....I'm right there with you....There is something very "centering" about running by myself.

Wes said...

Not many people I know would get up at 6 AM on a holiday to go swim in the lake at the crack of dawn :-) For the love of what we do...

John said...

I'm with you on that one, Joe. I love the time alone, and just letting the mind wander while clicking off the miles... Many issues get resolved while winding through the neighborhood streets!

David said...

My best work is done alone on a run. My staff hates it when I come in in the morning after a good hard run with a "new idea."

Carry on. Sounds just right to me.

Shilingi-Moja said...

My running has been my alone time, too. Recently, though, it had gotten to be a bit too much "alone". Fortunately, about that time, the YMCA training group for a half-marathon started up and I joined them for the company. It's been great. I run with a small group on Wednesday morning, an even smaller group doing hill work on Thursday morning, and a larger group for Saturday's long run. Actually, it's almost too much group running. I'll stick with it through the race because I am finally getting to know some folks outside of my fairly small circle of work/church acquaintances -- even though the guys that I run with are younger by 15-20 years.

Darrell said...

I'm pretty much with you on that one. It is somewhat selfish on my part, too. When I run it is the one part of my life that I have pretty much complete control over. I can go where I want and as fast or slow as I want. No one to answer to expcept me (see selfish part). Although I do enjoy my near weekly get together with the Cruisers. It is the one thing I've missed about being sidelined. I am looking forward to joining them on a short run (something around 10 miles) once I work back up to that disstance.

Sarah said...

Nice post. One of the things I hate about not running right now is missing my alone time.

Mary Gee said...

I spend a lot of time alone, but running alone is very special still for me. I have no desire to train with other people.