Being a Runner Does Not Make Me Crazy

Every Monday morning, your colleagues, classmates or whoever else with whom you whittle away the 9 to 5 generally ask, “What did you do this weekend?” Mostly, the answers are tame: laundry, hit the gym, cooking, the usual. Occasionally, an answer may include “I had a great date,” which can spark some intense questioning and intrigue. And at least one story will include “I was super drunk and…” or “I went out and you won’t believe what happened.” Again, this sparks questions and hilarity.

Yet, when I say “well, I ran 15 miles and…” the world comes to a screeching halt. Fingers are poised in the air above keyboards, mugs of much-needed coffee no longer make it to the imbiber’s mouth and occasionally a bagel can go flying across the room. I’m met with many a blank look, a vague sense of disgust and sometimes nervous laughter. But the most frequent response?

“You’re crazy.” “That’s insane.” “OMG, I can’t even run a mile.” “Wow, that’s ridiculous.”

It’s taken me training for – and not running– two marathons to realize that I am truly a
runner. And I say “training for” because I was supposed to run the NYC marathon and we all know what happened there. Then, thanks to Mother Nature and the flu season, I did not make good on my promise to run the Miami marathon; at that point, however, it was a relief to just stop.

But a runner I am, and not a crazy one, either. Even though I have yet to cross the finish line at a marathon, my status as a runner is not diminished. I wake up, sometimes very early, to sneak in pre-work miles. I choose to skip the third beer on a Friday night because I know that I want to get up and run on Saturday before enjoying time with friends and family, going shopping planning a great dinner that night. Or even going out again. I will order that salad with dinner on top of a sandwich (and probably have some of your appetizer, too) because I’m hungry – putting in 20 to 30 miles a week plus just getting around New York City requires some serious energy – and I know my vices (beer, chocolate) actually count as fuel.

Does this make me crazy?

Call me biased, but I think not. I think one of my chosen hobbies instead makes me balanced. I think that I’ve learned discipline, the benefits of endorphins and good, old-fashioned enjoyment of being in and moving one’s body. I think that I’ve learned to be at peace with myself, given that on a 15-mile run, I’m with myself for two-plus hours. I think I have developed some pretty badass mental strength in order to keep going even when it hurts, I’m tired and/or it’s cold. And I also think that I found something healthy, free, fun, occasionally hilarious and definitely unique that brings me (mostly) joy.

Somehow, this is far from crazy. Somehow, this seems totally sane, in my opinion. But somehow, like my enjoyment of spending time alone, writing and mixing up really weird things for breakfast, I am seen as crazy for running.

Fortunately for me, I’ve never cared what other people think. If others want to call me “crazy” for training my body and mind to accept a bit of a challenge and then sticking to this physical activity when there’s no instant gratification for doing so, then let them.

Because, funnily enough, running now keeps me sane.

Image via Shutterstock