A bunch of us at work are doing a “Biggest Loser” competition. We each paid $10 to join and we’re weighing in once a week. At the end of the first quarter, the person who has lost the biggest percentage of weight, takes the pot. When that happens, I’ll be using my money to shop for new clothes. Yes, it’s a forgone conclusion that I’ll win. I may hate exercising, but I hate losing a contest even more.
I can be found on the football field every night from 6:00 – 8:00, watching my kids practice. A few weeks ago, however, it hit me that I don’t exactly watch them per se. Truth be told, it’s really more of a glancing up at them now and then while I talk to my friends. When I admitted that, I realized I had 2 hours of time that I could use to do something a little more productive. I grabbed my friend who has been doing an amazing job losing weight, and said, “Come on, we’re walking!”
We took off and headed toward the West Orange Trail, a multipurpose, paved greenway that spans 22 miles. We walked at a pace that was fast enough to make it cardiovascular exercise, but not so fast that we couldn’t converse. As we walked and talked, I noticed the other people using the trails. We saw some folks walking their dogs, some people skating, and several bicycling. But most of the people we saw were running.
I kept thinking of the Nike commercial that Helen Hunt came up with in the movie What Women Want. She’s running. It’s early, it’s quiet. Just the sound of her feet on the asphalt. She likes to run alone. No pressure, no stress. This is the one place she can be herself. Look any way she wants, dress, think any way she wants. Nike. No games. Just sports. The ad makes it sound so attractive. It makes me want to be a runner. It makes me want to feel that freedom. But in reality, I can’t comprehend why running is so appealing. I just don’t get it. I don’t understand the allure. I watched the runners on the trail, arms pumping, feet pounding the asphalt, breathing labored, looks of grim determination plastered to their faces along with sweat-covered hair. I tried to gasp the fact that there are so many people who like to run, but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I mean, I don’t run unless someone’s chasing me. With a chainsaw. I just don’t think I want to do anything that makes me look like I’m being tortured. Seriously, look at a runner’s face sometime. They don’t smile. They don’t look happy. They look like they’re enduring bamboo shoved under their nails.
Still, I thought – there has to be something to running. I’m not sure what it is, but there has to be some amazing pay-off that is worth the mask of pain on every runner’s face. Yesterday, instead of my brisk 5-mile walk, I decided to run. I just had to see what it was all about. This is what I learned.
If you liked this, here are some more favorites from Dawn.