My Nike+ app says I have run 98 times in the past year. Those runs total up to 289.8 miles.
I run the same route 80+% of the time. From my house to Cooper St down Central. Beautiful homes. Nice sidewalks. I have done this run a lot, but today I realized something for the first time…I hate running.
I do hate running. I knew I hated it in the 80’s and 90’s. In those decades, I only ran from others in inter mural games and from the authorities.
In the 2000’s I started running like most people. For “exercise”.
I tried to talk myself into it, but never really did a good job. Since 2009 though I have been running pretty consistently. At one point, maybe even until earlier this morning, I thought I really enjoyed it. But I don’t.
I don’t like running and I figured that out when my headphones quit working about a half mile into my 3-miler this morning.
What I really love doing is listening to podcasts. Podcasts are amazing. This American Life, All Songs Considered, Catalyst Podcast, Stuff You Should Know, Radiolab, etc.
These are the reasons I love running. These are things that keep my feet moving one step in front of another.
But today, my headphones went dead. Absolutely quiet.
At first I didn’t worry about it. I was disappointed, but I would be home in 20 mins. No big deal.
Just 3 minutes later I found myself screaming in my head, “This is a very BIG deal!”
Then I was just full on talking to myself: “What are we doing out here?”, “What is wrong with these stupid headphones?”, “Who do you know that could let you borrow some headphones?”, “Is there a store open that sells headphones?”, “We need to carry money for now on during runs.”, “Running sucks!”
It seriously took a lot to not just turn around and shorten the run, but I kept going.
I got to Cooper and made the turn back. Now on the north side of Central I found myself just wanting to walk home instead of run. I had no energy. No motivation. No passion.
All I could think about was running. It was laborious. Heavy. Hot. Sort of painful. And boring.
“Is running always this terrible?” I asked myself. “Why do I do this?”
I started thinking about my short little legs and stocky upper body and how I punish my legs 9 miles a week. How mean am I to myself?
I contemplated having Ashleigh come pick me up, but finally my pride kicked in. My wife is not going to drive me a mile and a half home because my headphones stopped working.
I decided to keep running, but that yield sign at the corner or Central and Lamar I slap each Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday to signal the end of the run seemed way to far. It might has well been in Oklahoma.
Without my podcasts allowing me to escape from the reality of how much I hate running I was sunk. It didn’t matter how much I wanted to do it. The reality of what I was doing was oddly overwhelming.
Then I stopped thinking about the yield sign.
I saw the next light pole and asked, “Can you run to the next light pole?”
As I passed it I saw another light pole and asked myself again, “Can you run to the next light pole?”
Again, “Can you run to the next one?”
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Um, maybe. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
I stopped thinking about the yield sign. I knew it was out there. It was where I was ultimately headed, but it seemed impossible to run there.
But the next light pole was always attainable. Always within reach. Never a doubt.
I made it. I ran it. Half the way I hated it.
But at the end, I was wishing for more light poles.