Monday, June 16, 2014

Running The Track

When I was growing up, my parents were both long-distance runners. As it sometimes is with parents who love something so fiercely, they tried to get my sisters and me to pick up the sport. The three of us just weren't having it, but that didn't stop my parents from trying.

Four or five times a week my parents would run the streets of Pittsburgh together. But every now and then they would gather my sisters and me up and head to the track at Carnegie Mellon University, just a mile or so from the house where I grew up, and it is there that some of my earliest memories live. We would sit in the bleachers or play on the edge of the football field while my parents circled the track over and over again, urging us to join in for a lap or two every time they passed by. The answer was always a resounding "no."

It took me twenty years to finally realize that my parents were exactly right; running was the sport that fit me like the proverbial glove. I loved the solo hours out on the streets, the exhaustion and elation of a long run, and the triumphant race finishes. I even loved the aching muscles, runs in the freezing cold or sweltering heat, and the equal mix of pain and pleasure that comes with being a runner.

But lately, that has all escaped me. 

For a bunch of reasons, I had to cut way, way back on running for the past few months. As in, for almost four months, I couldn't run at all.

One day I'll tell that story, but that's not the story I'm writing today.

Even once I was given the green light to start running again, I had a really hard time getting back into the swing of things. The runners out there will understand. Starting again after being away for so many months might as well be starting from scratch and well, that just plain sucks. I kept making excuses to cut my runs short or to avoid them completely and do some kind of other exercise instead, but when you're a runner, sometimes no other exercise will suffice. Sometimes you just have to run.

So yesterday. Yesterday morning I woke up and, as per usual, my first thoughts were filled with all the things I had to do instead of running. Obviously something had to be done. So instead of going to the gym or to my regular running path, I decided to try something different. 

I laced up my shoes, headed for the track at the local high school down the street from my house, and ran there. And the run was hard. Really hard. But there was something else too. Circling the track with its familiar red rubber coating, I thought about my parents and the love of running they passed to me, and everything that once attracted me to this mysterious and miraculous sport. 

And for the first time in months, I felt strong. For the first time in months, I ended a run already looking forward to my next one. 

I am a runner.

And I'm out of excuses not to be.


  1. Sigh... I so wish I was a runner. It's mainly a lack of motivation. But I just can't seem to do it. I get bored. It starts to hurt and I'm like 'Screw it! I quit!'.

    In other words, I'm really jealous of your relationship with running :)

    PS - This would be an awesome piece for the yeah write grid if you're willing to link up this week :)

    1. Looks like you took Arden's advice and linked up. Glad to see you share this story at yeah write. Totally not a runner, but I can think of a few things I've stopped doing that I wouldn't mind finding a passion for again.

  2. It's been a long time since I've done any running. But I'm obsessed now with my daily hikes with my dogs and lifting weights. I'm glad you found your way back!

  3. I always wanted to be a runner. Maybe one day... :)

  4. I think runners are so cool. I envy you and I'm glad you felt good enough to do it again. Now, I really want to hear the reason you stopped for a while. A good artist always leaves them wanting more, and this is just what you did.

  5. I love this story. I can't run anymore (asthma), and it breaks my heart.

  6. First, there is nothing worse than being kept from running. Even for the best of reasons, it made me go batsh*t. I love how this story reminds me of stuff I shunned from my parents, but came to love. Chief example? Willie H. Nelson. I'm glad you found your way to the track. I"m almost brave enough to try it.

  7. Love this...both the fact that you have run out of excuses not to be the runner you know you are, but also the nostalgia of that track and what that means to you emotionally. I wish I was a runner but every time I have tried I cannot ever get passed the 'sounds like a geriatric asthmatic slowly dying' phase of it.

  8. So glad you started running again :) Must be so exhilarating!

    Shailaja/ Doting Mom

  9. Atta girl! Keep on running. That's so cool that both your parents did too.

  10. Keep it going! I wish I could be a runner. I'm planning on starting again myself but I wasn't born for it like you obviously were. I can't lose myself in a gym like you can in running. There is a freedom in it.

  11. I think we are able to love somethings better if we discover them on our own, glad it worked for you otherwise though

  12. I have the same sneakers! We're sneaker buddies! and running at the track is my favorite since I don't have to think about what i'm doing and my mind can wander.

  13. Wonderful that you found a passion and are sticking to it!