Monday, December 19, 2011

Running

Been thinking about running lately. I’ve walked ten miles, road my bike 30 miles, but I’ve never run longer than one mile at a stretch. For all my talk about being into fitness, that’s kind of pathetic, huh? A mile run is basically a walk in the park. Not much of an accomplishment. It’s more of a warm up exercise for more experienced runners. Why haven’t I run further? I guess I’ve seen no point in doing it. Haven’t had the need or the desire. Felt more comfortable walking. Yeah there was pain and weakness after a mile of running, but I saw no incentive for getting past that and being able to go the distance. Five miles. Ten miles. Twenty miles. Fifty miles.

But considering that I don’t drive, have no plans of ever driving, and prefer to get around through the power of my own locomotion as much as possible, being able to run further makes practical sense. Sometimes riding my bike isn’t a good option. Mechanical problems can be a hassle, and the worry of my bicycle getting stolen may be a legitimate deterrent from taking it certain places. I walk, but walking is slow. Walking is like traveling on cruise control, while running is like your natural born acceleration. We’re both natural born walkers and runners, the two complement one another; the only difference is in the speed of our movement. Running is faster. Walking is slower.

When you need to travel faster and further, running is much more efficient than walking. If speed and distance is not a priority, walking can be a much more relaxing experience, where it’s like going on a leisurely sightseeing stroll. You can see the sights while running too, but when you need to see more, to be more aware of and immersed in your surroundings, you need to move slower. You can only process so much at a time, and the faster you move, the less time you have to focus on one single thing. I usually stop a lot on my walks, to smell the roses, so to speak. I do the same when I run; to really listen, you need to be still.

The only reason why I haven’t attempted to run further in the past is that I saw zero utilitarian value in doing so. I’m not interested in the sport aspect of running. I have absolutely no interest in racing, running faster, or beating records of time or distance. And the health benefits can be obtained in other ways; weight training, calisthenics, aerobics. But I now see that running does in fact have a utilitarian value. It’s about getting places. It’s a viable means of transportation. I never even thought it would be possible to run to the Pacific Ocean from where I live. It was news to me when I recently discovered that the Hopi Indians of Arizona used to run not only to California, but all the way down to the southern tip of Mexico, averaging 100 miles a day. I didn’t even know that it was possible to run 100 miles in a day, let alone running a thousand miles in a week and a half. That’s pretty cool.

I had no idea about the history of long distance running among the native Americans, and other indigenous tribes around the world. It’s fascinating to me. The trick is learning how to run long distances without injuring yourself in the process. That’s what I need to work on. Not sure I’ll be running a 100 miles in a day, but now that I see a practical value for it, I think I need to add long distance running to the repertoire of my skills. Even if I only use running as a tool for scouting out new places to walk and to sit, it’s a good skill to have.

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