Monday, March 14, 2016

Motivated to Run: Why I started running

Your lungs are imploding. Your nose is streaming. A mixture of sweat and rain is trickling its way down the middle of your chest. Your shins throb each time they thud the pavement. You feel like cursing. But then you realise that the only person you could curse at is yourself. You chose this activity. No one forced you into it. You are on a run. 

Why do some people do this to themselves? What is the appeal of putting your body through this ordeal? Today I want to talk about how I got started running. 

I started running when I was eleven, two weeks after moving to the Czech Republic. I could not speak the language, yet I attended the national public school in my small town of Frydlant nad Ostravici. One day during tělesná výchova or P.E., we ran races. I was the second fastest girl. After class the teacher asked me in broken English if I wanted to be in a race against the other middle schools in the area. I said yes. When you don't speak the language of everyone in your school you tend to be slower than everyone else. So it felt pretty dang good to be fast in something. 

That weekend I ran. I ran more than I ever had before. On Monday morning I woke up early and ran before school. All day I waited for the teacher to tell me about the race. Nothing. I woke up early again on Tuesday and every day that week. On Friday I got enough nerve to ask my teacher about the race. She said it had already happened and she had asked the other girl--the one who was faster than me--to race instead. Rats. 

Even though I didn't have any particular reason to keep running, I did. I ran after school. I ran along the river Ostravice, which my town is named for. I ran into the mountains that surround our town and on forest trails which were covered in pine needles. Running became a thing that I could be good at. I needed to have something like that, because of how stupid I felt during school. I did the same with reading, if you recall from this post. I clung fast to non-verbal ways of expressing my worth or skill. Drawing was another retreat for the same reason: it required no language. 

Another reason I liked to run was how it helped me to get to know the layout of my new home. The more I ran the more I knew where everything was. I never actually got to be faster than the other girl in my class. But I got to where I could run farther than her. Eventually I did race against other schools. I did well, because I was the only one who ran on their own time. Everyone else did it because their teacher made them. Every time I raced against other kids I could tell that I was the only one who loved it. 

So what about you? Do you run? Why do you run even when your body protests? Or do you hate to run? 

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