Saturday, July 26, 2014

Learning to run

Running those loops were endless, it seemed, back in the Grade-school days before I knew what running gear was or even that running was a thing to do outside of school-time Participaction. Our gym/Grade 5 teacher sent us off on that 2.2K loop around my school and I now wonder what kind of running shoes my parents bought me, more likely acquired when my mom visited the local Bi-Way -- she was, after all, famous for scourging sales, the dregs from the the discount bin where she could mysteriously find matching outfits for my brother and I just in time for school pictures.

The loops that we ran on random mornings was part of "training" for our meagre cross-country team. I was third and also the slowest of my group of boys. The loops didn't prepare me for race day that saw me try to crest a stupid hill -- there are hills and grass in cross country?  I had advanced through the first set of local races and found myself toeing the line of a city-wide cross-country race where for all but me it was really a run until my fitness was compromised. To this day, I remember distinctly the hill, trying to run to the top it and realizing the best thing next to starting a run at a full sprint was taking a walk break.

How did I come to run? Who made me do this? How do I do this running thing anyways?


They say that running is what we are meant to do. They also say that running with shoes is against nature, just ask anyone seeking a refund from Vibram what natural running really is. In truth, we like to say that if you want to see someone run without abandon, watch a kid run, and while that is good enough to see what type of joy you can have on a grassy field, do we really know how to run?

I've been asking myself that more recently as I pound out year after year on asphalt, trails and concrete. I've been wondering why -- talent and effort aside -- are others more efficient, why do elite runners look so perfect when we do not.