A friend recently asked my wife why I run marathons. She responded by saying that I do it “mostly for the fitness.” Sally’s right, of course, but while it is true that fitness is important to me—and I don’t think I could keep doing this without the fitness gain—I think that’s only part of the answer.
I have on my iPod a song by Melissa Ethridge entitled, “I Run for Life.” It’s her ode to those who have suffered from breast cancer, and I believe it’s a regular theme of the various Susan Komen charity walks and runs. Her lyrics capture the other part of Why better than I know how to express it myself.
The chorus of the song goes like this:
I run for hope
I run to feel
I run for the truth for all that is real
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife
I run for you and me my friend
I run for life
When faced with the long term challenge of incurable disease in my family I chose to do the only thing that I thought might help. I raised money, and lots of it, for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society—over $100,000 over time thanks to the undying support of my friends and relations. And I have done that by pushing my body close to its limits for sixteen years of endurance cycling and now two years of marathoning.
But those tangible results are not what it’s all about either. There is more to the words and phrasing above. Somehow I feel that exercising my spirit can raise the spirits of others to a higher place if even only in a very small way. Perhaps if I can get the most out of the gifts I have been given I can make a tiny dent in the world for others. Others who maybe can’t run a mile any longer, but look to find hope and strength in what I can do. When there is no cure, maybe there is hope and maybe I can be a beacon.
I don’t really know if I can or will or have made a difference to anyone, but if there is just a remote chance of achieving that goal I want to be able to say that I did the best I could.
So if you ask me why I am still running I will say that I run for us all.
I run for life.