I have a favorite quote about running that I often read to myself the night before a marathon.
Paul Maurer, in his book, “The Gift: A Runner’s Story” writes, “Running isn’t a sport for the pretty boys… It’s about the sweat in your hair and the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin and the nausea in your gut. It’s about throbbing calves and cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door and running when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion you need to live each and every day with. It’s about being on a lonely road and running like a champion even when there’s not a single soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is all about having the desire to train and persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind, and heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner you can be. And that’s all you can ask for.”
I think about this quote often, especially lately. The COVID-19 pandemic has taken races off the calendar, likely for this entire year. I love races. The challenge, the crowds, the medals, the sense of accomplishment after – I love all of it. Usually, my running is geared toward training for a specific race. Obviously, that is not the case now. I recently found myself questioning my early morning runs – why am I sacrificing sleep to get these miles in today? What difference will it make if I skip my run today?
And then I get out there and I feel it. I know this is what I am supposed to be doing with my time: catching the last of the starry night and watching the sky start to get light on the horizon. Eventually, the sunrise starts and really drives the point home. The bright hues of pink, orange, and yellow fading up into the world never fail to make me pause and truly appreciate my life. I am fortunate to run where I can watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan every day if I choose. I can’t help think what a waste it would be to sleep through that.
While I may not have a concrete “purpose” for my early morning runs, it gives me a sense of purpose. It almost feels like I have this secret world that everyone else has access to, but chooses to ignore. But it’s no secret, it’s a passion to get out the door to run in this glorious place I get to call home. These early morning runs center me, fill me with joy, and give me space from the chaos of the world. I look forward to the day when I can get out and race with my fellow runners again, but for now, I’ll enjoy every benefit I receive from my “purposeless” runs.