Sarah’s Five G’s

Why do I run? It’s not a requirement for living a good life. It’s not even a requirement for living a healthy life. For a long time now, when someone sends me an article about the drawbacks of running – it’s bad for your knees! It causes heart attacks! You don’t need to run that much! – I’ve responded by saying: I am not running for my health. So why exactly do I engage in this activity that takes so much time and energy and frankly also money? Why do I head out when it’s too dark in the winter and too hot in the summer, almost always when it’s way too early? My “secret” is that I love to run and that to me, it almost never seems too dark or too hot or too early. But why try to run fast? I quite enjoy easy cruising around the neighborhood, so why bother to train and to race? Here is my why.

Glory. In many ways, I live a small and ordinary life. I think that is the sort of life I prefer. I wouldn’t be happy as a Hollywood star and I for sure wouldn’t be good at. But it’s nice – more than nice, it’s important – to be able to touch the non-ordinary. I believe this is a fundamental human need or at least it’s a fundamental need of mine. To rise above ordinary life and create something beautiful and spectacular and amazing. To live in extremis at least occasionally. To reach out and touch the sky or at least to give your all trying to do so. That is one piece of being fully human. Running is my pathway to glory and glory is one part of what makes life worth living.

God. I would never claim to “speak for” God or to say “God wants us to…”. It is not up to us to know those things. But to work hard, to test our physical limits – I believe these actions honor God. Working hard to run fast is one way to display and honor the beauty of God’s creation of the human body. The beauty of every human body, even my middle-aged sometimes slightly broken one. If we honor God through running, we can also feel God’s presence when we race and when we train. Jesus’s most common advice in the Bible is “Fear Not.” Running can be scary and when we face our fears and discover that God does not abandon us, we can be braver runners and braver humans.

Geeks. I run for the geeks of the world and I always have. For everyone picked last in elementary school. For everyone who never learned how to throw a ball properly. For everyone who can’t really shoot a basket or even knock down bowling pins reliably. For everyone like me, who grew up wanting to believe that those things don’t matter. It turns out they do matter – see Glory and God above – but it also turns out anyone can get better at them. Where you start does not have to be where you end in terms of athletics or anything else. The geeks of the world need to know this and sometimes I can be someone who shows them.

Girls. How often does it come down to this? My parents report that when I was only two years old, I was looking at a book and asked: Where are the girls? Well, the girls were told we couldn’t run longer than 800 meters. The girls were told marathon training was too difficult. Kathrine Switzer was actually attacked during the Boston marathon because she had the audacity to run it while being female. The girls have always had to fight just to get equal treatment, while constantly being told that we are too weak and not tough enough to fight. That is wrong. It is both factually and morally incorrect. Every time I run a marathon, every time I run at all, I do a little tiny bit more to right this wrong. If I spend my life working to correct that injustice in whatever way I can, that will have been a life well spent.

Gratitude. I used to think those gratitude journals were yet another tool to oppress women and convince us to be satisfied with our lot. We should be angry, rather than grateful, or so I believed. I am still sometimes angry, but running has taught me to be grateful and to live life with gratitude. Having not been able to run for many months, I am still grateful for every step. I am beyond grateful and just astonished at the incredible people who have come into my life through running. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by the support I receive from family and friends in my running endeavors. I am beyond lucky. I am truly blessed.

I don’t need to BQ or even PR to run for glory and God, for geeks and girls, to run with gratitude. I want to do the best I can with the circumstances I am given. If I can manage that, I will be totally satisfied with the result, whatever it is.

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