I used to be one of those annoying overachievers.
As a high school student, I was a four-sport letterman, a top honors student, and my graduating class’s valedictorian. One of the sports I lettered in was track, and my best distance was 3000 meters. And yes, youth was wasted on me, just like it is on all the other kids out there. Thirty-something seemed impossibly old to me at the time, to say nothing of forty.
The intervening years were not kind.
My biggest problem: an appetite for excess, primarily with alcohol. To wit:
OK, maybe not quite as bad as that but you get the idea.
The long and the short of it was that I found myself in my late thirties, depressed, overweight, in terrible shape, and drinking on almost a daily basis. The problematic thing about alcohol is that it’s awesome, at least for me. Alcohol can:
– Give that Milli Vanilli video a strange glow of profundity
– Render disco listenable
– Make COPS at 2am not only watchable but seem like an Ibsen play
– Make me laugh hysterically at cat memes for two hours straight
And so on.
So what does this have to do with the reasons I run? Well it’s what you probably think, but maybe not to the degree you think.
Because see, I still love booze. And I have no intention of giving it up. What I realized, however, is I need to give up spending my evenings with it every day. I would like to spout platitudes about how running changed my life, how it made me give up the bottle and fixed my depression, and I lived happily ever after, amen.
I still battle depression, though I’m no longer overweight or out of shape. I still drink, though not to the degree I used to. What running does for me is it acts as a kind of buffer. When I run, I’m less depressed, and I’m less inclined to chug a bottle of wine and watch retro 80s videos alone in my basement until the wee hours. It gives me goals to work toward, and I know that my excesses will hamper those goals. Maybe there’s an element of endorphin related satisfaction there too, I don’t know.
So, that’s why I run. To save me from myself. A prosaic reason? Yeah, probably. But new agey stuff aside, it makes me feel better. And as long as it does I intend to keep doing it.