“I only run when I’m being chased…”
-My Wife and many of my non-running friends
Why do I run? For one, I run because I am being chased. By whom? By the same entity that chases all of us. Time. I know that eventually I will lose this race. It is inevitable. But I run knowing that I can put years between me and that ultimate runner.
There are the obvious ways in which running puts off Father Time. As we improve our general health we tend to physically age more slowly.
What follows is one of my favorite quotes from Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run:
“You could literally halt epidemics in their tracks with this one remedy,” he said. He flashed two fingers up in a peace sign, then slowly rotated them downward till they were scissoring through space. The Running Man.
“So simple,” he said. “Just move your legs.”
For me that was an “aha!” moment. All of the common Western diseases can cut our “run” short. The simple act of running can prevent a countless number of these ailments from affecting our society so pervasively the way they do today.
But you know what else running can do? It can literally slow down time.
Yes, I said literally.
Based on Einstein’s Theory of Special Relativity, the Twin Paradox states that if one twin were to fly off in a rocket at close to light speed, fly around space for a while and then return to Earth, he would return to find his twin brother had aged dramatically more than he. This is based on the fact that the speed of light is the same for every observer, no matter how fast he or she is going. It has been proven in experiments. Years ago, scientists sent several planes with atomic clocks on board to fly around the world. Before they took off, the clocks on the planes were synchronized with an atomic clock on the ground. When the aircrafts returned from their jaunts around the world, it was shown that the clocks on the airplanes were slightly behind the clock on the ground. The faster one goes, the slower time moves for him or her. At the speed of light, time essentially stops.
The faster and longer you run, the more time slows down for you. You age at a slower rate. Sadly, you can run your whole life and only slow down time by a imperceptible amount, but I find knowing what we can do as runners poetic…beautiful. As runners we can control Time. We cannot ultimately defeat him, but by the simple act of running, we can tweak him.
I am being chased. That is one reason why I run.