Why do I run? Well the obvious answer is to receive the innate and ultimate reward: a Venti 5 Shot Americano from Starbucks (half and half and lots of sugar). There is almost nothing better than to get through that run, as awesome and exhilarating as it is in and of itself, than to wipe off the sweat and head to Starbucks. I used to drink Americanos before a race, but I've changed that habit (for more than one reason) so that now I wait until after the race. Like a barn-sour horse heading back home to oats and honey, my final miles are focused on steaming hot caffeine with a roasty, toasty, deep flavor, with hints of caramel.
But again I ask, why do I run? When you're injured you ask that question. This is when the wolves, i.e. non-runners, or former runners, tell you that running is not good for you. Running breaks down your body, batters your spine and causes more rapid aging, they say. When you are feeling good, strong and whole, it is easy to refute such babble, but when you're injured, you have to revisit the same old question: why.
Is it worth the risk? Something devastating and long term can happen such as: getting hit by a car, rupturing a tendon, fracturing a bone, ripping a knee, sun-exposure ...
Why do I run? I began competitive running when I was 9. My elementary school had a cross-country team and because I was an odd child who ran for fun instead of playing with a barbie, my mom suggested that I join when I was in 4th grade. From there I competed in the Junior Olympic system for several years along with school competition, in both track and cross-country, until I hit middle and high school where I solely focused on school competition. And then later college. When you begin something that young and thrive on it, it is meant to be. It becomes a part of who you are, of your identity and your lifestyle. It is no different than eating, drinking, sleeping. It's what you do. It's what you do when you're a kid. It's what you do when you're a teenager. When you're a scholar. When you're pregnant, a mother, and it's what you do when you approach the top of the hill. It's what you do when you're 80.
Injuries: that which does not destroy me makes me stronger. When you get a toothache, you don't stop eating. Injuries make running more difficult, or even temporarily impossible, but the yearning and need are always present. Running is necessary for some of us, so when things happen, you will eventually find a way to get it done anyway.
This has been one of those years where running was more difficult and I constantly fought to find a way to get it done despite pain and mental anguish. I tried to be smart and rest through cross-training, and although it helped, the yearning drove me back to hitting the pavement too early in the healing process. But you know what ... I got so tired of the pit in my stomach that sank in when I could only watch others bounce along in their glorious, energizing, Americano earning pace. I had to get out there and earn MY Americano again. That's my year in a nutshell. And I am tired of thinking about, talking about and dealing with my lame Achilles tendon. It's sore, still injured, but getting better and will soon be nothing more than an important lesson from history. That's so 20 seconds ago.
I think I answered the question for myself a long time ago ... when I was 9. Why do I run? I don't run, I AM run. There is no question to be answered, never a reason to doubt, not a time when I need to wonder. I didn't choose it. I don't remember ever choosing to be a runner ... I was born a runner and I was fashioned by the hand of God, so I can take no credit or blame. I can only embrace it and give Him the glory and the anguish of it. And thank Him. Thank You.