People run for a million different reasons. Maybe you want to increase your cardiovascular stamina. Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe you have so much fucked up shit going on in your head at all times that running is the only thing to calm the voices. Maybe it’s all three, and then some!
Running, like all physical activity, is beneficial for the mind and body. As a comedian, my friends are mainly other comedians. For the most part, we’re a rag-tag group of neurotic, anxiety ridden, ego driven, creative, deeply sensitive and addiction prone humans. Emphasis on addiction prone. Some people would argue that comedy itself is an addiction. The high you get from the laughs. The swells of despair after a bad set. The feeling that it’s never enough and you always want more, more, more. I’d say those people are being dramatic, but hey! Comedians are a dramatic bunch!
Because of my proximity to comedians and the use of the Nike Run App, I’ve seen an influx of people who are seemingly running from their demons. People who just started are running half marathons like it’s nothing! “Your demons are showing!” I’ll exclaim after seeing a comedian post about a 2 hour run in a -20 weather. It almost seems impossible! And here I was thinking that I was killing it at the running game. I mean, I’ve clocked over 560KM since I started my journey a mere 7 months ago. I even have a running blog. That means I’m legit, right?!? LOOK AT ME GO! But now my pissy little 10k’s seem to pale in comparison. I started to question my drive.
Why can’t I run that far or that fast? Is it because I can’t or because I don’t want to? WOULD I BE ABLE TO RUN FASTER AND HARDER AND LONGER IF I HAD MORE DEMONS? This is something I actually thought. Not to say that I don’t have demons, because I do. It comes back to the whole “tortured artist” belief. In order to produce something of worth you need to be deeply fucked up. In order to be a genius you need to be a self loathing alcoholic. True art comes from pain. THE DARKNESS FUELS YOU TO GREATNESS.
I’m here to say that the darkness doesn’t need to fuel you. If it does, great! But what fuels you can also destroy you. Be aware that you can also approach running with a sense of light, curiosity and love. (I’m re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Highly recommend! Not just for writers or “creative types”) This goes for everyone. New runners, pros, recovering addicts, demon filled beings or angelic hunks of flesh who have seemingly never had a problem in their whole life! Run because it excites you. Run because you enjoy it! Marvel at the fact that your legs and brain are talking to each other as you put one foot in front of the other. Notice the snow on the trees. The rhythm of your breath. The smells in their air. The beating of your heart. (ROLL YOUR EYES, I DARE YOU.) I know this all sounds so hippy-dippy but it’s friggin’ true! Allow your motivation for running to be nothing more but a curious adventure. Ask yourself, what is running doing for me? If your only goal is to clock the most kilometres and push yourself as hard as you can so you can feel a sense of accomplishment, those feelings won’t last. I know, because that’s how I approached running for a while.
For the record, I am in no way undermining the accomplishments of my fellow running comedians. I am not making fun of or questioning their motives. Some of them may read this and think “shut the hell up Hladkowicz, I run half marathons in the cold cause I fuckin’ feel like it!” I am simply making some observations and talking about my own experience. I’m thrilled that running has become a replacement for drinking, smoking, drugs, self-harm etc. I am also aware that running can become a whole other type of addiction. A better one than cocaine! But an addiction, nonetheless. It is such a helpful tool on your road to self recovery, but it’s not a fix-all.
As Miley Cyrus once said, WTF do I know? Like anything in life, take this all with a grain of salt. Like all of us, I’m figuring this out as I go. All I ask is that you consider looking into the motivation behind your running. Instead of running away from your demons, what happens if you run into them? (don’t you fucking roll your eyes at me.) Face them head on and tell them to fuck off. Say “let’s settle this demon, because I have shit to do. I’d like to enjoy this run and smile at squirrel instead of shutting my brain off and rocketing my bones down the olde escape lane.”
Does this make any sense?! I hope so.
I’ve got the curiosity AND I’ve got the runs!