January 18, 2007

Perspiration, Respiration, Inspiration

Twelve years ago, living in Indianapolis, I began running. Once a week or so, I'd take off and run a mile or two along the footpath that bordered the White River canal near Butler University. When the weather was bad, I'd run indoors, but I really preferred to be outside. Some days, I literally raced the thunderstorms home.

Then we moved to the central coast of California, where I ran on coastal bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean at Montaña de Oro State Park. A coyote ran with me once, and several times I could see grey whales swimming offshore.

For the past seven years I've lived in the Sacramento Valley, and have discovered that the pads that border the rice fields are excellent for running, as long as the cropdusters aren't dropping their poisons from the sky. My running has been on-again, off-again over these seven years, but for at least the past two or three years, it's been fairly consistent; not a week has gone by that I haven't run. More recently, it's been twice a week, due in part to my eager running partner--my dog Saydee. This week, for the first time, I've gone running three times in one week.

My distances have increased. I can now run three miles without resting or walking. Since the trail I run parallels a set of railroad tracks, I sometimes find myself racing mile-long freight trains. And, thanks to Saydee, the local rabbits now get plenty of exercise as well.

In recent weeks (out of curiosity) I've been searching out other runners on the internet. Most of them are, in my opinion, a bit extreme in their running. I personally have no desire to run a 26-mile marathon in under four hours. Heck, I really don't have any desire to run 26 miles in one week. Yet those men and women do so all the time.

Also, a lot of runners seem overly obsessed with running gear ... and maybe I would be, too, if I ran as much as they do. But one of the things I like about running is the freedom of it. You don't really need any special gear. You can just get up and go. In my garage is a bike that I haven't ridden in over a year, because it needs repairing and I haven't got around to it. I can't ride it if it's not working. But running, for the most part, isn't like that. All I need is me. Until two years ago, I didn't even have any running shoes, although I must admit, now that I do, I can't imagine running in anything else. And my new long-sleeve running shirt is so much more comfortable on a cold day than a baggy sweatshirt that flaps around in the wind. So yeah, having some specialized items is nice, but I don't want to overdo it. I certainly don't want to have the freedom I enjoy constrained by a growing "must-have" list of essential gear.

Some of the discussions of essential gear focus on the best type of music to listen to, or the best music player to have. I have no interest in such things. I want to hear the hawks screeching overhead as I run, or the whistle that lets me know a train is approaching from the south. I want to hear the wind, the buzz in the electic lines, and the chirping of the frogs. If--God forbid--I should ever find myself stuck somewhere where the only option for running is a treadmill, then maybe I'll give some thought to music, but only until I can figure out a way to get back outside beneath the sky and sun, where I can experience nature and talk to God and feel the Spirit as I run.

Besides, I can't picture my running partner on a treadmill.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I think you had me running with you. I enjoyed a lot.

Take Care