I ran cross country for many years in jr. high and highschool. A daily longish run became part of the regular routine. I was unable to sleep well unless I’d chewed up some nearby trail.
Upon arrival at UC Santa Cruz, I found a gorgeous loop trail near the East Field House that I’d hit once a day. UCSC has tons of very friendly deer that casually grazed next to the trail. They seemed to always be in the same location each night that I ran, so I began to give them names: Frank, Phyllis, Fran, Frannie, and Chaz.
One night, I was in my second loop getting that familiar slight ache under my left lung that I ALWAYS got during my second mile of running when Chaz showed up solo in one of the familiar eating spots.
‘Hi Chaz’. Second loop.
On the third loop, Chaz was staring at me. It wasn’t one of those deer-eating-and-staring-at-me looks. He wasn’t eating. He was staring right at me. He wasn’t scared, he was trying to say something.
‘Hi Chaz?’. Third loop.
Fourth loop. Chaz is still not eating, Chaz is still trying to speak and it’s really hard to speak English when you’re a deer, so I stopped to give him time although I expected him to bolt.
‘Sup Chaz?’ Last loop.
He didn’t budge. Just continued staring at me. Saying… something. He was saying, he was thinking, “Dude, why are you running in a loop? There’s nothing chasing you.”
In that moment I realized that, ‘I hated running’. I hated the monotony. I hated the ache under my left lung and I hated that the deer thought I looked silly.
I walked back to my dorm and didn’t run again until this last weekend. That’s 10+ years.
As I’m become reacquainted with running, I remember the aspects that I like:
- Unlike hockey, which is the sport I replaced running with, the constant exertion results in a longer endorphin rush. This means that if I run in the morning, by the time I get my cup of coffee in Los Gatos, I have an endorphin and caffeine high. Total boon to drive-to-work productivity.
- I’ve been running the same route in the redwoods for a week. The N.A.D.D. portion of brain really believes I should vary the route, but I’d forgotten that running is about the details. Finding subtle hills and valleys in what looks like a flat road and adjusting your pace. Running on the inside corner of the road versus the outside. The same run is different every time I’m not a detail guy and this is a good detail practice.
- Most important, running is quiet processing time. It’s a part of the day where I am not sitting in front of the computer or a group of people and needing to either consume a flood of information or tap dance.
I hate tap dancing.