This is an older article which I used to help kick off a chapter in my latest book, 138,336 Feet to Pure Bliss. I decided to reprint it as I think given an article I read in a recent issue of Running Times really seemed to echo its sentiments.
wonderful thing has been happening in the past decade or so: Americans
are running. From 5Ks on up to the marathon and beyond, the nation is
experiencing a running boom unlike no other. The American elite are
winning or at least in the argument for winning marathons while further
on down the ladder, runners fill the ranks from age group aces to
weekend walkers. I have been very fortunate to become friends with some
of the legends in the sport while also counting among my friends those
who are just happy to finish a marathon under six hours. In doing so, I
have noticed something surprising: a slight backlash against those who
run to enjoy myself and do not care about the time on the clock,” is
the crux of the argument against going faster or harder. Well, that is
why I run, too. But I race for an entirely different reason. I
am usually met with silence when I ask why bother even showing up for a
race when a run by one’s self should create the same enjoyment. Silence
is fine. I know the answer.
We all enjoy accolades. Do an 18-mile
training run and no one at work cares that much. Run in the
half-marathon race lined with bands, and bring home a shiny medal, and
you receive mounds of attention.
Which leads to the
obvious: Everyone wishes they could run faster, if even just a little
bit. But why? Well, because the truth of the matter is that running
fast is fun. I enjoy the leisurely pace of a long run with friends as
much as the next person in short shorts and racing flats.
it is not that running fast goes against the enjoyment of the sport.
Running fast, by whatever definition “fast” is to each individual
runner, is what makes the sport what it is. That temporary flight that
separates us from our grounded brethren is what drives us all.
Embrace your wings, unabashedly so.