The great running philosopher George Sheehan wrote in Running and Being: The Total Experience that “the daily six mile run is physiological magic.” And, while I agree with him, in my stage of life as a runner, I am more interested in psychological and emotional magic. Which begs the question, if six miles a day brings my body magic, what does it take to bring magic to my head, and more to the point, to my heart?
I am definitely one of those people who needs to run every day. Sure, there are those days when I can’t squeeze it in or those times when I just need to take a rest, but most days I wake up and the first thing I do, wherever I am, is to go for a run. Usually that daily run is somewhere between four and eight miles and typically around mile two or three I begin to feel it, the magic of the daily run. I can’t really put my finger on why this magic happens, but when it does the rest of life seems better and things seem a bit more clear.
My daily run, often in the pre-dawn darkness, brings with it a calm stillness that I need in order to function in the rest of my life. While the physical benefits of running are undeniable, for me, running’s greatest gifts come from the psychological and emotional benefits that each day’s sojourn brings. In fact, even the bad runs, those runs that just feel sluggish and creaky, ultimately bring out the best in my head and heart even in spite of the pain in my legs.
There have been a few occasions in my running career when I’ve been forced to take time away from running due to injury and illness. Emotionally, these spells stand out as some of the most challenging times of my life. Yet, when I’ve come out the other side and been able to return to running, I find myself refreshed and renewed. And each time I come back, I savor and cherish my daily run even more.
For those of us who have found running, those of us for whom it is not just what we do but who we are, we must not lose sight of how truly special and transformative it is. Often bringing out our best even when we can be at our worst, running as an essential core competency is so much more than a hobby or an activity. It is more of a calling and the more we do it, the more the miles build up and the hours accrue, the more it makes us better versions of ourselves and, one person at a time, makes the world a better place.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Consistently producing outstanding beers, Bell’s has always impressed me with their variety and creativity. Their Black Note Stout is a wonderfully harmonious Stout perfect for this time of year.
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- So, what psychological magic do you find in your daily run?
- What other regular benefits do you feel as a result of a sustained running practice? Are there things that running gives you that other hobbies don’t or can’t?