Five hundred miles

Last night I reached an important milestone in my quest to outrun my own stupid shit and generate some positive personal electricity. I have, as of now, stepped approximately 554.54 miles. I’m on my second pair of shoes. I have overcome foot injuries, glute issues and the dreaded Hill Fear Syndrome.

Yay. Me.

In doing so I’ve learned a little bit about the here and there of running, life, and, well, pain:

1. Don’t run if you want to lose weight. Oh, you’ll burn a million calories, but will be so freaking hungry afterward that you just cancel it out with steaks and pasta. After awhile you do begin to lose, but interval training sure seems to be more effective. Consistent running as a part of an exercise and diet plan is the way to go. Think big first, then get to details.

2. Treadmills – and people like them – are liars. Adjust your incline to “2” and run for 3.3 miles. That’s about the equivalent of a sidewalk 5K. Use treadmills if you want — I do — but get outside and run at least once a week. Just remember, if it seems too good to be true – it is. But go with it until someone figures it out.

3. Train your brain. Yes, the physical rigors of long distance running are extreme. What’s more difficult, however, is the mental anguish. You’re tired. Really tired. Your left foot is numb. The nipples are bleeding. You can stop if you want, and all of it will go away — your brain knows this and will begin to sweetly whisper it to you at mile 6. Or consider this scenario: it’s Tuesday night at 7 pm, the humidity is high and you’re on one of a hundred training runs. You’re bored. You hate running. Does anyone really care if you do all 4 miles?

Yes. You care.

Running makes for discipline and discipline makes for a focused and effective brain. Stay tough and work through topical issues like boredom, pain and exhaustion. Once you do, you will enjoy a crystal clear perspective on life and its troubles. I know that when I let my brain roam — when I day dream on a run — I usually come out of it a little wiser.

4. Running is the great equalizer for regular people. If you have trouble kicking or throwing a ball but can put one foot in front of the other without falling down, running is a sport and it’s for you. That coworker who played college soccer can keep her stupid little game. You’re a runner — that’s your sport. Just don’t show anyone your splits.

5. Those moments when everything works in harmony is totally worth it. From feet to legs, arms and breathing — when it all comes together, it’s an organic feeling of effortless perfection. This is what my body was meant to do, with a large brain to work through bear traps.

The diamond at the end? Running, like life, works best in harmony. Getting there takes mental toughness, physical endurance and a solid plan.

— Brian Chee


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