Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self

IMG_1017
View From Lamar St Bridge During Run:11 June 13

“Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run.” (Monte Davis)

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” (William Faulkner, “The Art of Fiction, no 12,” The Paris Review, 1956)

I really have no idea who Monte Davis is. This quote appears on plenty of running sites, but no one sources it. I googled him but could find no information about him as an athlete. I wish I knew who he is, because I really take issue with these words that are attributed to him all over the web. Honestly, one is quite able to run and feel sorry for herself at the same time! When the weather is rainy, cold, and dark but she has to get in that last five miles to meet her goal for the week; when she has one hill rep left but the previous five, six, or seven reps have sapped all her strength; when her will to run battles her will be back at home eating ice cream and reading a book: oh, yes, feeling sorry for oneself while simultaneously running is indeed possible. But since misery honestly seems to love company, a runner is more likely to complete her running goals when she shares her goals with other runners, and also helps them to achieve their own goals. Continue reading “Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self”

A Joyful Return to Running

“Humans aren’t built to sit all day. Nor are we built for the kinds of repetitive, small movements that so much of today’s specialized work demands. Our bodies crave big, varied movements that originate at the core of our body.” (Scott Jurek, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. bullet proof coffee 3
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”)

Ultra-runner champion Scott Jurek (whose autobiography is an extremely inspirational and interesting read, even for those of use who vehemently disagree with the ideas about diet and nutrition he espouses in the work) is correct: human bodies do long for big, varied movements, and when one is used to moving – running! – for miles every day, for long periods of time outside the house, a sudden halt to that activity brings her shock at first, then disbelieve next, then finally a reluctant, depressed acceptance of reality. At the moment when she realizes that she really, absolutely cannot run for an unspecified period of time, a sort of panic takes over. How, she asks herself, will she replace that movement: that activity that releases such endorphins into her being, and releases her into the world as well? Should she do upper body and core work at the gym, where she will be surrounded by television screens showing CNN or music videos? Surrounded by people plugged up to machines that merely mimic running – not even truly moving – while they remain plugged into their various personal technological devices? Where, in the gym, are the trees?

McAllister Park
McAllister Park Boardwalk, N of Tobin Trailhead

Continue reading “A Joyful Return to Running”