On the joys of running

Brennan Brink ’21 proudly holds his race bib after running a 5k in Arusha, Tanzania.

 

Three weeks ago, I broke my foot playing kickball. The embarrassment, the boot I now wear and the occasional pain annoy me. But the inability to go for a run in the ever-warming weather — that’s the worst part about breaking my foot.

I don’t miss running for any of the conventional reasons: I don’t long for the challenge to run farther and faster, and I’m not fretting over my health. I miss the run in itself.

For much of my running career, I obsessed over running faster. How quickly could I get out my front door, run my normal route and arrive home to licks from the dog? The irony never dawned on me that I was attempting to enjoy my hobby by actually doing it for the least amount of time possible.

My desire to run fast eventually waned as an appetite for distance waxed. I became consumed with adding another mile to my repertoire. Could I run to the Carleton Arboretum and back? How deep into the Arb could I get?

With both of these endeavors, I was never chasing the run, but merely abetting an endless ambition. The ugly truth is that you could always be running faster, and always be running further. Running apps aid in a competition that turns you and your friends’ activity into a constant game of who-is-running-better. So long as you hunt running goals, you’ll never be satisfied and you’ll never slow down to experience the run.

Nowadays, the desire for production and perfection consumes just about every facet of our daily lives. How well can you do your homework, and how quickly can you chow down on your lunch? Why let running become the same?

A zen-like appreciation for the moment of running doesn’t entail running becoming a hedonistic delight. I’ve found myself deep in the bush of the natural lands, clad in mud and dog-tired of moving my feet one after the other. But when my legs hurt and my lungs are tired, I remember that I’m out in it for the pain, for the escape — for the run.

There are probably plenty of health benefits of running. I know my mental health is never better than after seven miles. But listing them here would be beside the point. Get out and run — the weather has never been better for it — because running can be the one place in your life where you do something simply to do it.

Go, the natural lands await.


brink4@stolaf.edu

Brennan Brink ’21 is from

Rapid City, SD.

His majors are ancient studies and religion.