Running has inspired a some great books. My favorite is “Born To Run” which details why we should all ideally be barefoot ultra marathoners. I doubt I will ever run an ultra marathon, but as so many people in the book discuss, I HAVE to run.
I have to run because about three years ago, at the the tender age of 32, I had a small cerebral hemorrhage that caused a minor stroke. I was in the ICU for four days and out of work for a month. Besides giving me the chance to catch up on Buffy The Vampire Slayer episodes, it sucked. My physical recovery was swift and complete, and in that way I am very lucky. I was able to run within a few months of the stroke, which is quite awesome I am told. The doctors could not find any cause or explanation and the MRI showed a brain that was completely “pristine” (their word, not mine). While that was frustrating in a way, the doctors also pointed out that it seemed unlikely anything like this would happen again.
When I started to run again I was very nervous. I remember climbing onto the treadmill with a sick stomach and barely trotting for a couple of miles. But I was fine. And I did it again the next day, and the next, and…here I am. It’s been three years, five half marathons and many 5 and 10Ks, and I am doing fine, despite being no barefoot ultra marathoner.
After a run, especially a long one or a half marathon, I feel more tired on my left side (the side where I had the stroke) which allows me to make lots of jokes about walking in circles. But any discomfort is more than balanced by the deep sense of comfort that I get from having just run 13 miles. If I can do that, I certainly am not going to have a stroke that day.
So in this way, running makes me feel safe. When I am running, I know that I can trust my body. I am using it, pushing it to go faster or stay in motion. When I am just walking around or typing at my computer, I don’t know this, not like I do when I am running.