Why I Run by DeMyla Patterson
Running for life!
Every morning I run.
Even on the mornings that I don’t feel like it, I run.
I don’t run for sport.
I run for strength.
There are obvious physical benefits to running. You hear about the mental benefits, though they aren’t as easy to see when you drive by someone laced up quickly putting one foot in front of the other on the side of the road. If you live with a runner you can see the mental payoff with the naked eye, and not just because they have a bumper sticker that reads running is cheaper than therapy.
When I first started running more than a decade ago, I was motivated by the desire to push my body beyond what I thought it was capable of and the allure of collecting hardware for participating in races across the country. It wasn’t until one day, after a long incredibly frustrating day at work, that I was hit with “What’s the matter with you? You need to go for a run!” My two children knew that my attitude would change after I got in a few miles; and it undoubtedly did! From that moment on, running has meant so much more to me than setting a new PR (personal record) or hanging up another finisher medal. The strength I run for is of the mind; my perspective, my growth and my healing like my life depend on it.
I have a personal rule (another PR if you will) that if my running shoes are on, I can’t turn back and the run must be completed from predesignated start to predesignated finish.
Talk about running being a metaphor for life. Unless training for a race, I’ve started and stopped my daily 3.5 mile baseline run at the same utility pole at the same park in the same city since 2007. In May 2015, my mom died and that completely devastated my life. On a particularly difficult day in October 2015, I set out to run to feel a different kind of agony. At the end of my run, I bent down to stretch an overexerted hamstring and for the first time ever, noticed my mom’s initials carved in the cement base of the utility pole. I can’t say an existential experience like that happens every time I run or that it will happen for anyone else, but I can say without question that every single time I run I’m glad that I did - while I’ve run in the middle of the day, in the evening (never at night – it’s not smart and I don’t really want to run for my life), regardless of the time of day, another answer is just as clear.
I run to finish.
- Written by: Demyla Patterson