I love to run. I run 6 days a week. My dad thinks I'm crazy; he always tells me that's why cars were invented so I wouldn't have to run everywhere.
I don't run to lose weight or win races, I rarely enter them. I'm not some jumbo health nut. I just run because I LOVE to run. Running can really be an addiction. Those times in my life, mostly during vacations, where I can't run for 3 or 4 days is painful, literally. My legs ache unless I can run. I can't imagine life without running because I've done it for so long. If I do the math it's been about....crap, 20 years I've been running. I started running cross country my junior year of high school and fell in love with long distance.
Running is individual. No one can take the blame for my running failures.
Running is meditative. I get a lot of praying done on my daily runs.
Running is physical. Well, duh, of course it's physical. But I also mean that through running I've been physically able to experience the world in a way I wouldn't have if I hadn't been a runner.
Most of my 20 years of running hasn't been on a treadmill; that little blessing has only been around for about 3. Because I've made it a habit of running 6 days a week I've also ran in all kinds of weather and on all the different terrain we've moved around to.
In Illinois I ran in the winter on a treeless plain. I'd often have 2 pairs of pants and socks on, 3 shirts and sometimes a couple of hats. I ran with snow falling in my face while working hard to lift my frozen feet out of the drifts of snow. My winter runs were silent and clear. I finished my runs with snow in my socks and skin red from the cold but I enjoyed the runs despite the discomfort. It was a wonderful thing to see and listen to God's silence on those runs.
In southern Indiana I ran on hilly gravel roads. I remember telling DR that my butt burned after my first week running there! I had never ran so many hills in my life! Running in Indiana I was surrounded by thick green trees that isolated me so completely, at least from humans anyway. Many times I spooked deer out of their morning grazing in the cornfields. I even came upon a stray horse one time! My Indiana runs were also accompanied by singing birds and the sounds one only hears in the woods. I ran in Indiana winters but it's the summers I remember the most. The hot gravel beneath my feet that kicked up the dust. The humidity completely enveloped me! I don't know how I ever breathed on some of those runs but I felt a fire in my lungs that made me happy I had worked so hard.
About 6 years ago I was able to chaperone a group of high school students to West Virginia on a white water rafting trip. What fun that was! At the end of a day on the river a couple of the teenagers were going for a run and I tagged along. Well, dragged along was more like it. Those kids were ten years younger than me and in much better shape. How humbling! And if I thought the hills of southern Indiana were bad, oh boy, the mountains in W. Virginia were killer...but beautiful. I love to gaze on an Appalachian mountain slope because it evokes a sense of gentle aging I suppose.
In Kansas I haven't done as much outside running as I've done in other states. I blame the convenience of my treadmill for that :) But I do get out on warm sunny days occasionally. Over the weekend I decided to go running on a day that we were having 40 mph wind gusts. You think I'm crazy? Yeah, probably. I ran half a mile to the west and yes it was windy but I was still in town protected by trees and houses. Once I reached the edge of town and turned to the south, where the wind was coming from, it was like running against a wall. I just couldn't move! It was kind of fun! But I couldn't keep it up so I ran back into town to the football field and ran around the track. It was exhilarating! Every turn of the track caused the wind to hit me from a different angle. I had to be so aware of where and how the wind was hitting me that it took some concentration not to get knocked over! I don't think I had ever had a run where I had to concentrate so hard on my body and what it was doing.
I've written before how blessed I feel to have moved so many places and I'm also blessed to have been able to run in those places in a variety of different weathers. God has blessed me with people and places but also the opportunity to experience his world silently and humbly on my own. I wish I could take you all on these runs with me but I don't think they'd be as special if you weren't on your own.
P.S. - Good running news! I'm up to running 5 days a week in my Vibram 5 Finger shoes!