“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The cross-country team is currently looking for new members to join the team. If some of you are interested, please join the team after school on the track and field!” The morning announcement team, consisting of high school students, declared as they continued with their morning ritual.
I sat slumping forward on my rectangular desk, and for some spontaneous and superfluous reasons, a random thought popped up in my mind.
“Hmmm… I am not good at any sports requiring hand eye coordination like basketball, tennis, soccer, or any sports requiring a ball. Why don’t I give cross-country a try?” I muttered quietly under my lips.
“I mean there are many sports that one can play but running requires no balls or equipment of any kind. Not only that, but it is a sport that I can do anytime. I don’t need a gym or anything…”
“I mean I really do need some extracurricular activities like sports on my transcript if I want to have a good chance of entering a nice university…”
“Or how about meeting new people? I can make new friends who would share similar, healthy lifestyle…”
I pondered many thoughts and came to a quick conclusion: I will join the cross-country team and give it a try.
On my first day of practice, I looked at my teammates nervously as Coach Holden declared that I will run with the guys right away. My first practice was to run five miles!
“Five miles! Yo, that is totally uncalled for, how do I run five miles when I never ran more than a mile? I mean the most distance I ever did was a single mile for the gym test that we do every once in a while…” I thought helplessly to myself.
But I sucked it up and ran with my fellow classmates. In my first day of cross country, I ran the first three miles in agony. On my fourth mile, my calves cramped up so tightly that I stopped running and walked the entire way.
To make matters worse, in a week’s time of training and running, I was limping in school all day. My legs were not used to this kind of exercise and treatment.
Thinking back to those days, joining cross-country was the perfect initiation for me. It was an invitation of a lifetime because it is one of the most helpful habits that I picked up.
Now that over a decade has passed by, I still run on a frequent basis. It is my main exercising method along with yoga that I picked up half a year ago.
Because I love running, I want to share my experience and the wonders of running.
Benefits of Running
There are many benefits to running. We all know this. It is a form of cardiovascular exercise. When we do cardio, we are exercising our lungs and heart. We circulate blood and oxygen throughout our body. In a way, we are utilizing our body and keeping it in a certain state of activity.
It is a simple process to be healthy physically. If you want to be healthy, you use your body. If you use your body too much, you rest it. That is the simple basis of physical health. If you sit down all day and don’t use the body, then there is no proper circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body.
You build up inertia in the system. So, the point of running and exercising, in a sense, is to add lubrication to the body machine of yours. This way, you move through life with the least amount of friction. Now this is a simple generalization, but you get the idea.
When you run, your whole body is engaged. Your arms are moving back and forth, the legs are taking a step back and forth, and so on. When every part of you is engaged in the physical activity, you are training them to grow and become stronger. Here are just some of the benefits of running:
These benefits can be found online everywhere you search. There are many scientific studies done on why running and cardio is good for the body. It is a no-brainer and we don’t have to discuss the validity of these studies because it is an experimental process that you can try yourself.
You can experience running for yourself, just as I have done for myself. Because I ran all these years, I can attest to the benefits listed above. And there’s more benefits.
One of my absolute favorite things about running is traveling. Running gets you from point a to point b like no other method. If you run, you will go to places that you would otherwise never go. I would run through trails in a forest that I would never venture through. I would run up hills just to view the amazing scenery from the peak. I would run at dawn to catch the sunrise or run at dusk to catch the sunset. I would run at night just to be with the stars and the moon.
I do all of this because it is an amazing and soothing experience to be one with the surroundings. I do all of this because running allows me to express myself in various ways.
In a sense, this is another benefit to running. Running clears the mind. It can also be a form of meditation.
People would often ask me, “Luigi, why do you like to run so much?”
I would tell them jokingly, “I run because I like to run away from all my problems.” It is a joke, but there is some truth to it. When I run, I am introducing space and distance between me and my problems. My problems, in this case, are just thoughts that I am identified with. When I run, I become meditative. The thought process wanes and the body goes into autopilot. It feels soothing and relaxing when I run.
It may seem counterintuitive that running relaxes the body, but this is true. When you focus on something else, you are not expending energy in the direction of what you don’t want. If my mind is always on a problem, then running is just a method to redirect my energy somewhere else.
If I run fast enough or often enough, another benefit arises. Many people call it the runner’s high. It’s pretty much a state of pleasantness in the body when running becomes effortless. I am no expert on this, but it could really well be the release of endorphins in the body or an adrenaline rush. Whatever the case is, it is a state of euphoria for me.
When this happens, I would laugh hysterically while I run. From an outside perspective, it seems like I have gone crazy. But in many ways, there is a certain level of madness within me. If there is no madness, there is no intensity of life. Because I always try to live intensely, that intensity can come off as madness to others.
One of the wonders of running is that even the madness can become a normal aspect to you. When you push yourself beyond your limitations, certain things that you thought were impossible becomes the regular norm.
Do you think that running half-marathon is a special feat to me? No, I run 13.1 miles on a frequent basis. If I want to, on an afternoon I could just go outside and run that distance for practice.
To someone who doesn’t run, running that distance is insane. To a frequent runner, that distance is nothing. In many ways, everyone is at a different level of experience and understanding. The more time, effort, and dedication you put into something, a different dimension of experience opens up within you.
My experience is that I love to run. It is as simple as that.
Love to Run
When I go for a run, I never run with great effort. Running is effortless for me. Yes, I may run ten miles in a single session, but I don’t run with great effort. I run with absolute ease because I love it. I love running so much that I am willing to give myself entirely to the process.
If you love something, it doesn’t matter how much effort is required of you, you will simply do it. The activity becomes an expression of your joy, so your actions are effortless.
Just look at any physical hobbies of yours. No activities would last years without some sort of love for them, isn’t it? You love what you do, so you do more of them. That is all.
I love running. I love every aspect of it. When I run, I never cared about the benefits that came with it. I enjoyed the process of running. It is an easy way for me to analyze my current physical health. Either I am running faster or not, I can check with a stopwatch.
When I run, I don’t do it to achieve any goals. I simply do it because I can. If you need goals and reasons to do things, then, in a sense, everything you do is transactional. You want to get something from doing something else. This way of living has its limitations because you are seeking fulfillment in an activity. When you don’t get what you want for performing your activity, then you no longer love what you do.
Instead, if you do something for no reasons, but you simply want to, then you are willing. And if you are truly willing, then your experience of life would be enhanced because you allow things to happen to you.
The simplest way to pick up any physical activity is to do what you love. If you do what you love, then you will give your best to the situations around you. If there is nothing that you love, then learn to love what you do.
I am open to many things these days. Because I always ask these questions to myself. “Why am I not passionate about everything? Why do I even have specific likes and dislikes? Why can’t I like everything?”
It makes a lot of sense to me. Because our likes and dislikes are bondages in many ways. If we dislike something, we exclude it from our life. If we like something, we only engage in those activities, so we limit ourselves. Both ways, we are limiting our experience of life.
If we learn to love whatever comes our way, then we learn to become receptive to the bounties of life. Everything and anything can become a stepping stop for our ultimate wellbeing, it doesn’t matter what it is. When we learn to create love within ourselves, we enter into a state of pleasantness. If this happens, it doesn’t matter what we have to do, we would do them without a single thought. We would be able to give our best with the least amount of effort.
I saw an image from Reddit before and it really helps with what I am trying to say, so i am going to put it here:
I know that everyone’s experience of life is different, but the one that works best for me is learning to love what you do. Using the quote above, you know what I want to say, right?
“Why doesn’t everything spark a light in you? Why isn’t standing, breathing, running, not running, this, or that sparking a light within you?” These are questions that I ponder about.
I didn’t come into existence with love for running. Everything, in a sense is something I learned to love because I picked up certain impressions and taste. So, because I become identified with my taste and personality, I can call these activities something I love. I also have activities that I hate. I understand things from this perspective, and I know the reality of my situation that I do have prejudices and a discriminatory mind over what I like and dislike.
It is something that I need to work on always, that I need to expand love to be totally inclusive. But I can still see why learning to love is important. When you truly love something, it is no longer a problem for you.
I don’t look at running or exercising as a chore. I enjoy doing them immensely. In life, the very least you can do for any activity that you do is to accept it for the way it is. But if you want to do more than that, then learn to love what you do. Instead of constantly looking around trying to find what you love to do, learn to love. It is that simple.
Don’t take my words for it. Try it. Try doing something and abhor every second of it. Next try something different and love every second of it. You will see the difference that just by deciding in your mind what you expect, the results are pretty much decided. In fact, the moment you decide what is it in your mind, most of the time the results are so.
Running is just one example of countless physical activities that a person can do. You don’t have to love running like I do, but whatever you do for physical health, just see if you can learn to love it. Because if you keep your heart open, anything you do can be wonderful. It doesn’t matter what you are doing.
Why do you think I always put so much emphasis on love? Because it is only through loving something deeply that I get to experience life deeply. Love is the deepest dimension of life that I touched, so I use it as a basis for all my experience of life.
That’s why I love running so much.