Learning to run your own race

Both of my parents run. They’ve been married for twenty-five years, both been running nearly that long, and yet they never run together. I wondered why.

I’ve had the privilege of running with both of my parents and I soon figured out the reason. One kind of runner is the intense, hard-core, serious, purely dedicated runner who will run rain, shine, blizzard, hurricane, at four in the morning or five in the evening. This is the kind that runs because they truly love it.

They usually don’t like to run with others, and if they do, they don’t chat much. They never run with an iPod or other form of entertainment. They’re in it for the serenity that overwhelms them and the feeling it gives them. This is my father.

He’s strictly a solitary runner. I consider myself lucky that he’s allowed me to accompany him. He’s one of those older, slightly battered, little-slower-than-I-used-to-be kinds of runners, yet still runs with the same fierce passion that he had when he was younger. His route of choice: a nearly deserted trail that winds peacefully in a tranquil wood.

As we start off, I can hear him as he runs a pace or so behind me. I’d like to think I’m a lot faster than him. But just when I think I’ve lost him, I turn to see him trekking right along. We go a whole hour within three feet of each other without saying a word. I like this kind of running.

My mother, on the other hand, is the runner that runs to stay in shape. She’s one of the ones that like to run because it means spending time outdoors, enjoying nature and getting exercise. She also immensely enjoys her iPod. She’s one of those social runners who will run willingly with friends and converses constantly. Often, she’ll say to a friend on the phone, “Oh, I’ll tell you tomorrow; it’s a good run story.” Her route of choice: a hilly road course around our house.

She puts in her iPod and starts off to the beat of a Michael Jackson’s “Beat It.” A few miles later, she’s already told me a long story about someone’s father and so and so’s new, adorable dog and numerous other tidbits of useless, yet entertaining information. Then a new song comes on and she belts out the words she thinks she knows while bobbing her head and doing zigzag patterns in the street. Before I know it, we’ve been out for a whole hour. I like this kind of running.

All runners run. But they all run for different reasons. Take my parents, for instance; they both understand the way each other runs and accept it. That’s why they work. Yet they both call themselves runners. Many runners have been running for so long that they forget why they even started. I like to think about my motivation and why in the world I torture myself.

So, whether you’re a die-hard addict, a fun, light-hearted runner, or somewhere in between, know why you run.

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