Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 216 - Why Run? - Being Outside

Round three in my attempt to make running appeal to, or at least make sense to people who don't run.

One of the more compelling and least obvious advantages to living the lifestyle of a runner is that you get outside. Often.

In middle class America, we spend most of our lives insulated from the world. We live in air-conditioned homes with all of the windows shut tight. We go places in our air-conditioned cars that we keep in their own little houses with the bikes we don't ride anymore. And we walk maybe 50 feet from the car, across an asphalt parking lot, into yet another air-conditioned store or office or movie theater.

We have lost our connection with the planet.

Getting outside, moving across whatever tiny piece of the Earth you happen to be in, on foot, reconnects you.

Sometimes, it isn't the most pleasant experience. But it is always an experience.

And it's the absolute best way to see a city. With a hotel map and an hour, you can see more sights than most people see in a week. And on the way to and from the sights, you'll get a feel for the city. The sounds and the vibe. Something you just don't feel sitting behind a steering wheel.

Just this year I've seen SarasotaLas Vegas, Nashville, St. Louis, and New Orleans, up close.

But even a normal daily run, from home or the office, grounds me, reminds me that I am still an animal roaming the surface of my world. I'm as much a part of the planet as an ocean, a mountain, an elephant, a tiger, a seal, a crab, or a fruit fly. We all share this place and time, and we all contribute to it.

When you feel connected to the natural world, it's easy to see that the un-natrual world isn't all that important. My run today in the shaded green oasis on the trails, in the midst of a massive re-org at work, helped remind me that the chaos around me is temporary and inconsequential. The trees and the river and the bugs and the deer live on despite what the org-chart looks like. And so will I.

It might seem silly, Or a bit on the tree-hugger side, but I promise you, if you get out for a run, or a walk, even in an area you think you know like the back of your hand, you will notice something new every time out. And you'll feel different about that place.

Infinitely more intimate than driving a car, running gets you close to things, and gives you time to see them, and smell them, and feel them.

Cycling can be nice, but you move too fast. And in most cases, your attention is on not getting hit by cars. Golf doesn't take place in the real world. It's in it's own little manicured fantasy world. Golf courses are to nature what Epcot is to Europe. Tennis, skiing, basketball, swimming, etc. may be great exercise, but they keep you insulated from the world.

Running gives you fitness and health, and an experience, an adventure. And it reconnects you with your inner-animal, the one who sprang from the very nature that is all around us, but goes largely ignored.

And please... stay off the treadmill.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.5 miles on trails.