What Makes Me Run: Reflections on 2017

by Tom O'Grady

People who know me understand that running is important to me. It’s not and never will be the most important thing in my life but it certainly ranks up there. I’m not nor would ever be the same with out it. Running and the traveling involved has taken up large chunks of my time for good and bad (traveling, commuting, exercising, etc).

I’ve met many people running like I have doing other things - working, going to school, etc. I met my wife by a chance encounter that got us talking about each of our marathons... so in a sense running was (in epidemiology terms) an in-direct cause that led to our three children. I’ve been places I may not have gone to because of running and skipped out on places I may have liked to go because of it.

TomOGWinterFinal.jpgRunning has allowed me to explore places you may not go if you didn’t run there or get there by foot. It’s a perfect sport to define my personality - I savor the dedication and hard work that goes into it. Mile by mile, year after year, you build a strong foundation. There is no one to pick up the slack. No one to phone a friend to.  No corners to be cut.  Easily measurable and definable. The clock doesn’t lie at the end of a race. The same toughness and stubbornness and unwillingness to quit at running when it was the hardest is what made excelling at school and working on a PhD easy. It’s what has gotten me through tough times and will surely be a companion through whatever life has in store for me to come.

I was thinking while putting the kids to bed before writing this because so many people post year end reviews. I did a quick calculation and jotted the numbers down separately for HS, College, and Post-Collegiate Running (my numbers for post-collegiate are meticulously tracked. I low balled my HS and College estimates based on what I consistently ran).

After a yearlong hiatus from an Achilles’ tendon tear at the beginning of 2016 I started to rack the miles back up this fall. My pitiful (for me at least) 1,600 miles this year put me over 55,000 lifetime running miles... those miles have relieved stress, helped me write a dissertation, kept my waist-line thin and a multitude of other positive things. I’m a distance grind it out guy through and through.

This is a day early but that doesn’t mean I’m not running tomorrow.

Happy New Years everyone... enjoy your 2018. And enjoy it the way humans have been doing for years and years before social media - talking to friends and engaging in the world around you the way we were made to do.  Be healthy, be active, be safe, and be happy.

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