Running for head and heartTOWNER, N.D. — After a long hiatus from my old running days and marathon training, I’ve decided to lace up the sneakers and start pounding the gravel roads and trails around the ranch again. Why on earth would a guy run when there are so many other perfectly good modes of transportation out there?
By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek
TOWNER, N.D. — After a long hiatus from my old running days and marathon training, I’ve decided to lace up the sneakers and start pounding the gravel roads and trails around the ranch again. Why on earth would a guy run when there are so many other perfectly good modes of transportation out there?
That’s a good question, but it’s not the easiest one to answer. At 6 foot 2 and 180 pounds (soaking wet, after Thanksgiving dinner), I wouldn’t say I’m doing it to lose weight. It’s not that I don’t have perfectly good horses to ride or vehicles to drive that could get me from point A to point B. It’s not done with the thought that I might win the next marathon I enter and bathe in the fame and winnings as a world-class athlete.
Like other painful, physical challenges, I suppose I run because it feels so good when I stop. Kind of like beating your head against the wall, but better. There’s actually some science to the phenomena of feeling good after you run. Something about endorphins, the name of an opiate protein in the brain that is short for endogenous morphine. It’s a legal, natural drug.
On the trail
When I was running marathons and shorter road races, I met more than a few runners who were recovering alcoholics, and thought to myself that running and its endorphins were certainly a healthier addiction than alcohol or drugs. And if a person knows he or she is prone to addiction, better to have an addiction that makes your heart and lungs stronger than one that makes your body weaker.
So I’m brave enough to go out running on our lonely country roads. I say brave because my only fear is that a neighbor will drive by while I’m running and they’ll slow down and razz me about being a “jogger,” especially for being a winter “jogger.”
But on those rare occasions that they do catch me out running, they usually just smile and wave, or laugh hysterically and wave, or, if they do slow down, they might drive alongside and visit with me. That’s a good thing because we seldom take enough time to visit with our neighbors these days, and it’s good to maintain conversation when you run because they say if you can talk conversationally and run, you’re maintaining the nearly perfect pace and heart rate.
I like running. I feel better when I run. I burn off some stress and I think my clearest thoughts while I’m out there listening to my feet strike the dirt road. There’s little traffic where I run and few people. I suppose that’s why I am bound to run home when I turn around — there’s no one to pick me up and give me a ride even if I wanted one.
A fellow runner from Sidney, Mont., had more traffic to contend with than I do and the vehicles didn’t all hold waving neighbors. She did not return from her morning run several weeks ago on a road a couple hundred miles west of where I live. Kidnapping? Murder? The law still is learning what happened and it has two men in jail to learn from.
What I do know is that in a couple days, I’ll be running with hundreds, maybe thousands, of other “virtual” runners to remember Sherry Arnold and the positive impact she had on her community as a mother, daughter, sister, wife, math teacher and friend. And she was a runner.
We’ll all be looking for some endorphins to help us cope with the sadness of this senseless crime and the loss of such a good woman from our neighboring community.
We’ll be thinking as we run, and I hope her family will feel the power of those thoughts and prayers that are offered as our feet strike the earth in steady rhythm.
Editor’s Note: Ryan Taylor welcomes comments about his column. He can be reached at 1363 54th St. N.E., Towner, N.D. 58788; email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Taylor, who ranches near Towner, is a columnist for Agweek.