Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Run On Red Air Days

My husband and I were having a little conversation last evening as we were brushing our teeth and getting ready to turn in for the night - we were talking about injuries and treatments, which I have way too much experience with. I was recounting lots of injuries and how certain treatments did or did not help. My husband is a serious, elite, rock climber, bouldering V12 at the age of 47 - which is done by very few around the world. He has his share of aches and pains, but I deal with many more bodily woes on a more regular basis. And while he supports my running obsession, I don't think he really gets it because: a) I always seem to be dealing with some difficulty (injury), and b) I'm (naturally) a better climber than I am a runner.

And yet my obsession is running. Woe is me.

So, as we're talking about injuries, he asks me: "So explain to me again...How is running good for you?". I reply, "It isn't - I don't do it for that. If someone told you that climbing was bad for you, would you keep doing it?" He hesitated, and then said "It depends on what kind of 'bad' we're talking about". Well I tried to clarify, "It might not kill you, but it might hurt you from time to time". Then he admitted that, yes, he would probably still climb. For him, as for me, our obsessions are ends-in-themeselves, not merely means to ends.

And then I proudly proclaim, with a tinge of sheepish embarrassment, "I run on Red Air Days".

We all do what we do, and care about what we care about, for different reasons - our own, personal, reasons. Many people will consider me foolhardy for running in poor air, or while sick or injured - and I probably am. But I see running as a good in itself, and that sometimes means I walk a very fine line between what is prudent or reasonable and what is not.

The British Utilitarian Philosopher, John Stuart Mill, argued that complete personal freedom to do with one's body, mind, conscience, and expression is a necessary prerequisite to growth and happiness (and this applies to both the individual and the society as a whole) - even if everyone around us believes that what we're doing is pig-headed and idiotic, we must suffer fools (maybe not gladly) as long as they don't harm us. Why? Because this kind of self determination and passionate pursuit of what makes one happy (even if it ends up killing you), adds more life to your life.

So while there's much more to life than running, running adds more life to my life. 

This sometimes leads me to push it too far - but as with many things, we may not know how far too far is until we push it. And yet, if we don't push it, we will never know how far we could really go.


  1. I Absolutely LOVE your blogs.... I am so jealous of your way with words (in a good way) and I look forward to each one!

  2. Damn philosopher! You're posts always open the door to my thinking about things; even thinking about my thinking. Appreciate that. Don't stop.

    It seems I was always running to prepare for something more -- my first 5k, 10k, Half -- then this year was going to be my first Marathon. Told people I always needed a goal to keep me going. Since 11/22/11 it's no longer about this or that goal "down the road". It's about today, the here and now, finding what's deep within that I need to find and will find, to sustain me and the love of my life through the next 8 months. Looking at it as a form of nourishment, if that makes any sense.

  3. Thanks for all the words of support - I often wonder if I'm not just drifting into a cave of self absorbed concerns and reflections - but those are often more universally felt than we understand.
    I often ask myself: Why am I doing this? Why am I writing this? Why do some blogs seem to have soooo many readers when they don't speak to me...? And then I worry that I'm just speaking to myself - so thank you all!


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