by Ron Marinucci, Feb. 2, 2009
A little while ago, Karen and were at a holiday social gathering. (OK, you caught me—it was a wild party!) Anyway, we ran into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while, including some nonrunning folks.
“Are you still running?” several asked me. Assuring them that I am, I added, “I also biked more last summer and fall than I have in years, since I was a kid.” (You caught me again; “since I was a kid” has been decades!)
“Oh,” they chimed in, “that’s [the biking] so the running doesn’t get boring.” It wasn’t a question, but a statement from them.
What? Running boring? Huh?
To begin, I must admit, I rarely use the word “boring” and never to describe anything in my life. I also think many people, especially the young, don’t really know what “boring” means.
It seems the word has come to be equated with difficult, undesirable, or even unpleasant. That’s not what “boring” means.
Paying my income tax, especially my ongoing battle with the IRS, isn’t exactly pleasant—despite Joe Biden’s claims of it being patriotic—but it , especially my ongoing battle with the IRS, is certainly not boring. In fact, figuring my taxes isn’t a whole lot of fun and it’s very hard (Did you know there are more than 20,000 pages of tax laws and codes?). But, boring? Not at all.
Back to my friends and their perceptions of running. No, it’s not boring and my biking is done in addition to my running; I haven’t cut back at all.
There are times, even now, when running is hard, sometimes very hard. It could be a tough race or training day, the course I’ve chosen to run, or just one of those days. But difficult is not the same as boring. A particular run might have been unpleasant—running too hard, getting a small ache or pain, becoming injured—but those, too, are not boring. My running, in more than 30 years now, has never been boring and I’ve never contemplated that word while out there on the roads, trails, or wherever.
Oh, the coaches, magazines, books, and whatnot counsel us on how to prevent boredom while running. And, I suppose, they make sense, for some people. I think I employed many of their techniques/methods before I even knew what I was doing. I have tried to make each run something my 8-year old grandson Michael calls, “an adventure.”
Some days, I run harder than others, when I just unwind. I rarely run the same route twice in a week. I love the solitude of running, alone with my thoughts, on the narrow trails of the nearby state park. I also look forward to my two group runs a week—guide running with blind runner Michael Holmes and meeting a larger group (4-5 of us) on the weekend. I run back country dirt roads and a couple of subdivisions. Some routes are pretty hilly, while others are somewhat flatter. Occasionally, depending on the route, I will pick up things—fast food wrappers in one direction, plastic grocery bags in another, and even treasures, etc. I’ll combine feet and bike—pedaling out to a starting point, running from there, returning to the bike, and riding home. In hot weather, it’s fun to stop by the lake or river and get a little wet. The list goes on. Boring? Never.
Michigan is great for running. The four distinct seasons make new courses out of the same routes. The bare trees of winter become the buds of spring, the lush leaves of summer, and the brilliant technicolor show of autumn. While I don’t bike in the colder months, there’s snow then, time for shoveling. In fact, winter running is my favorite.
I’ve never used a headset, I-pod, or whatever they are called. (I’m sort of a 21st Century Luddite!) I don’t need music or inspirational speeches to keep me going—they’ve never been a temptation. It’s great being alone with nature and its elements or my own thoughts or in conversation with good friends. (If you’ve not picked up Warren Kay’s book, Running—The Sacred Art, I recommend it. It helps to identify the kinds of things running helps us discover.) Races, large and small, with my community of running friends, are special treats.
Back to my friends at the party. I told them, “No,” my running isn’t “boring.” (I wonder how many times runners have to say that.) To emphasize that, I repeated that I bike in addition to running, that I don’t cut back on my running mileage because I get on the bike several times a week. In response, I received the nods that couldn’t quite camouflage what they were really thinking.
**Over the past few weeks I’ve said two things I never thought I’d ever say. One, “my college coach is retiring.” He’s been at Amherst for 44 years and there isn’t a day I don’t think of how he and Amherst have positively affected my life. When I try to express my appreciation, I think he’d like me to stop being so “mushy.” And, two, “I’m 60.” I was out for a run a couple days after the big day and a snow plower stopped to ask me how much I run, since he sees me out there “all the time.” I told him and he asked how old I was. That’s the first time I uttered, “I’m 60.” He rolled up his window with a strange look on his face. I am really looking forward to this year of racing, entering a new age-group, among other things.
**I received word from a running buddy, Joe Burns, that he and a small group of friends are organizing a July race to raise money for Special Olympics. I’ll pass along more information about the specific date and place when they become available. Knowing the enthusiasm Joe and his friends have for running, this race might be one to add to your calendar.