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Kool-Aid

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Running, and by extension physical activity, is a gift.

As with all great gifts, it is one worth sharing.

Often people don’t want it. They look at those of us who are regularly active and think that it is easy for us to run, that it is easy for us to exercise. To a degree, that is true. Those of us who call ourselves runners (or swimmers or cyclists) wake up with the urge to run, or swim or bike – maybe not as soon as we get up (I’m still trying out this pre-dawn thing), but eventually, at some point during the day, we are driven to get physical.

It’s not like that for everyone, particularly for those that haven’t imbibed in our endorphin-laced kool-aid. Our non-running friends don’t know that there was a time when the desire and drive simply weren’t there for us, but we forced ourselves to push on. Once through that wall, once through that two to three to ten weeks of faithfully getting it done, it all changed. For some of us it was a gradual awakening, for others it was a moment of enlightenment.

If it sounds mildly religious, don’t be surprised. There is definitely a cult-like mentality to dedicated runners, and the endorphin-high one gets from running is very similar to that of a religious experience or an encounter with a huge amount of chocolate. Some might call it an addiction, others might call it a religion. I like to think of it as therapy. But any way you slice it, for the greater majority of us, it is peace. Running is the place where the stresses of the day, month, year, can melt away for a brief moment in time. It is a place where we can work out the strategies of how to deal with our daily issues. Much like a drug, religion or therapy, running can ease the pain in our lives and help keep our personal demons at bay.

Just like drugs, religion or therapy however, running is not for everyone. As a running acolyte, that is something that is hard for me to remember. Just like there is room in this world for religious believers and non-believers, there too, is room for runners and non-runners alike.

Still, like many religious zealots, I have difficulty understanding how one could not enjoy the benefits running. I wish I could bottle up the kool-aid and give it out for the Holidays, just so people could have a taste of that joy that running (or any exercise that produces a lot of sweat) can bring.

I do believe that unlike religion and drug addiction, running doesn’t do harm to others in its name. It’s not like runners are about to start a runner’s war, right?

People will come to it when they’re ready I suppose. I didn’t start running regularly until I was almost 40. I wish I had done it when I was 30 or 20 for that matter, but honestly, I just wasn’t ready.

Who wants Kool-Aid?

Have you always been a runner (or whatever your sport of choice is) or did it come to you later in life?

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