by Bill Hoffman
I often get asked by non-runners why I don’t find running boring? From their point of view, I often go off by myself for hours at a time, just running and ending up back where I started. On the surface it does sound pretty boring. However, I have found that running provides me with a sense of true adventure. Something that is hard to find in our society. I am constantly exploring while I run. Sometimes I am exploring in the more traditional sense of trails deep in the woods where I might find myself lost and worrying about how to find my way back home. Sometimes I am exploring my own thoughts. I am always exploring how my body is functioning and interacting with the world.
Why is it that sometimes a run is easy and other times it seems harder? Running on snow even if it is well packed and flat is always a little slower than running on the road, why is that? I am not sure of the physics but I know it is true. I have explored running in extreme heat, cold and everything in between. It is a true adventure to run 10 miles when it is -10F outside. I am usually the only person out and about when it is that cold. The usual group of dog walkers, other runners and people just out and about are missing. It is like running on the moon.
Although I find more adventure running in the woods. Road running always brings new things to explore. Can I run a new distance? Can I run faster than before? What am I capable of doing?
I started running in my early 40’s after reading “Born to Run”. My first runs were only a mile at a time in my vibram 5 finger “shoes”. I distinctly remember the first time I ran five miles. I ran some little used trails behind my house and connected with a road in the next neighborhood over and came back via roads. I had a great adventure taking a route that I had never taken before, and it was new and exciting.
I continued to focus on running greater and greater distances reaching a full marathon. Although crazy hard I had managed to go 26.2 miles on my own two feet. Each time I go for a run I try to learn something new. Of course not every run is a super exciting adventure. Some are repeats of familiar roads and trails, but I always see something interesting or learn a little bit more about how my body works.
I have learned that the key to distance running is consistency. Putting in miles week in and week out teaches the body how to handle itself. Once your body can go the distance, you will find a freedom that can not be purchased or obtained any other way than putting one foot in front of the other over and over again. Even on a less interesting run, I know that I am keeping in shape for the next big adventure.
Last summer with all the races canceled I found adventure in the mountains and on the trails. The biggest adventure of the summer was the Lake George 12str which consisted of running 12 mountains around Lake George including a swim across the lake, so that I could be one of the first people to ever run all 12 peaks in under 24 hours without using a bike, boat or car, just my body and what I could take with me. This was a true adventure in that the outcome was not certain.
In my approximately 10 years of running, I have explored distances from 1 mile to 100 miles. I have run on roads, trails, and I even ran a few miles in an airport to keep a run streak going. I have run in many different countries and surfaces. I have been lost, but have always found my way home. I have learned how much I can push my body and how to keep it ready for the next exciting adventure.
So when I think about why I run, it is for adventure. I will not always be able to go farther or faster, but I am pretty sure I can always discover something new along the way. Even when things don’t go as planned I can keep a smile on my face and keep moving forward.