Five Things I’ve Learned About Running That Change Everything #running

running-advice-bugMy stomach was bothering me today. I wanted to go out for my run, but I’ve been doing this running thing for a long time. I know it’s a mistake to head out the door with a stomach ache. You’re just asking for trouble. While I reflected on that, I came up with a few other things that I’ve learned in my time running that . . . change everything . . . if you take the time to learn them.

"You can't run with diarrhea." Photo: Joe English

“You can’t run with diarrhea.” Photo: Joe English

First, you can’t run when you have diarrhea. I know this seems like an odd thing to begin with, but it is true. You can’t run when you have diarrhea. Or another way to say this is that you can’t simultaneously keep diarrhea inside your body while running. With some real effort, you can train yourself to keep the diarrhea from explosively erupting if you really concentrate. But, honestly, it’s just easier to walk until you’ve found a more appropriate place to let it out. Perhaps more importantly, diarrhea is a stand-in for many things that keep us runners down. Like the proverbial thorn in the lion’s foot, there are just some things that keep us from doing what we intend to do. Sometimes you just have to stop and walk, let the shit out, and then continue on with your run. Shit may get in the way of our dreams in the short-term, but you will one day conquer it if you keep after it. It ain’t pretty, but that’s life.

Second, people that don’t run will never understand why we get so excited about running. I’m personally not sure why people get excited about reeling in a big fish. I don’t enjoy tracking down a tough software engineering problem. I may never get excited about birthday parties, large trucks or bowling alleys. We’re all different. We like different things and we get excited about different things. Running is our thing and they will never get it. It doesn’t matter if we’ve shaved 31 minutes off of our life-time PR or just found the perfect pair of shoes for running in mud. It also doesn’t matter if we’ve run 50 marathons in 50 states or done “a real bitch that nearly killed us.” They still won’t get it. And that’s fine. The important thing is that we are happy, fulfilled and joyful. All of us. It’s about acceptance and allowance. Let me run in peace and I will let you fish in peace. But please don’t try to force me to come fishing with you and I won’t make you run with me.

Third, it isn’t the distance that matters, it’s the effort that we put into it. People ask me all of the time why I would “bother” running 5K road races. People have also marveled at the fact that at times I have logged forty or fifty miles of running and walking in a day on marathon courses. You can pack a lot of effort into a short distance. It’s not the quantity of miles, it’s the quality of the effort. We decide where we focus and it’s our attention that makes the experience meaningful. There are times when we really need to focus. There are times when we have to muster all of our energy and put everything into it. At those times do it and don’t get distracted by anything else. There are times to slow down and relax too. It’s not about the things we do, it’s about how we do them.
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