Well we know where we’re going
But we don’t know where we’ve been
And we know what we’re knowing
But we can’t say what we’ve seen
-The Talking Heads
One of my in shape friends once told me that running a marathon can be done by anyone because it’s just “mind over matter.” When I finally stopped laughing eleven days later, I dismissed his claim as being an outright fabrication and a complete misinterpretation of the phrase. I have it on good authority that the creator of the saying was not applying it to physical activity of any kind, especially running. What he meant by “mind over matter,” was eating a seventh Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie when he should’ve stopped at six.
Look, I’ve got nothing against running at all. I don’t even have anything against runners, though I do find some of them to be quite scurrilous. My wife is a non-scurrilous runner, as is my daughter. I have good friends who are non-scurrilous runners. I share sidewalks with runners all the time as I walk – not run – and sometimes I even get out of their way as they barrel towards me, elbows flailing and mucous projectiles flying out of their mouths. For the most part these runners aren’t being rude when they run by. It’s just that running can make people seem disingenuous and unnecessarily aggressive. I think it has to do with a combination of dangerously elevated heart rates and forward momentum.
There is one runner in my neighborhood, an audacious little fellow, who refuses to share any publicly owned space. He thinks that all paved areas the County ever constructed are his and his alone, and that he can do with them as he pleases. I don’t get out of the way of that guy. In fact, I’m always up for a game of chicken when Captain Bonaparte comes running towards me. Inevitably he cowers in fear as I stick out my chest and give him the respect-your-elders stare, even though I think he’s older than me.
In my opinion, there seems to be no incentive to running a marathon besides being able to say that you ran a marathon. That simply isn’t motivation enough for me to trek 26.2 miles.
“But, once you get the runner’s high, you’ll feel like you can run forever,” said my over-exuberant running friend.
“Yeah,” I responded. “And when does that occur?”
“For me it’s around mile twelve.”
I shook my head in disbelief. If I’m complaining about running through the equivalent of two small cities, does this guy really think running through the equivalent of one small city, simply to obtain some mythical runners high, is suddenly going to pique my interest? Spoiler alert: It’s not.
This same well-meaning individual tried to entice me to run by saying that there is sometimes beer at the end of these runs. Sometimes? I laughed. “There is always beer in my fridge,” I said, unimpressed, “and I don’t have to run a bazillion miles to get it.”
When I was 17 years old or so, with functional knees and a not-yet-completely-developed-brain, the idea of running a marathon was intriguing. I could get out and commune with nature while also putting in some sweat equity, I thought. It would be magnificent! Yes, I said to myself. I will become a marathon runner! And if marathon’s were only 0.3 miles long, I would’ve become a marathon runner.
A decade or so ago, as I stood firmly in my early 30’s, I actually was a runner, and while I never got close to a marathon, it was oftentimes rewarding to have lived through the experience of running.
Now, I don’t even like driving 26.2 miles. My friend was right though, running a marathon really is mind over matter and since I don’t mind never running one, it doesn’t matter. I will eat that seventh Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie though.