I trail run… a lot.
I feel safe and peaceful out there.
People say, “Aren’t you scared of being attacked out there?”
I say, “Much less afraid than if I were on the street.”
People say, “What about wild animals?”
I say, “I’m much less afraid of them than wild humans.”
People say, “Aren’t you afraid of getting lost?”
I say, “I feel utterly lost if I don’t go.”
Trail running opens up the window to my soul. Whether you run trails or street, I don’t know one person in the running community that would tell you otherwise.
“Running allows me to be the best version of myself,” I’ve heard a thousand times over from many different people.
“Running is where I sort out all of my life issues,” others have said.
Running has aided countless recovering addicts to stay clean, gotten men and women through ugly divorces, and given people who have lost a loved one a place to breathe, and cry.
Running melts away anxiety, worry, fear, and our need to control.
For the many people who have made it a lifestyle, it has nothing to do with the physical benefits, and everything to do with the mental benefits. Runners are some of the kindest, most giving and caring people I have ever met. We look at each other and recognize the beauty in that person because our fear and anger has been melted away.
So I wonder, “what if the people who are acting out in violence and fear turned to running instead of hate?” “What if someone or something introduced them to the running shoes instead of guns?” “Would the world be different?” “What if they looked at others they way runners look at each other?”
We don’t care what size you are, how fast you go, or what your goal is. We don’t care what color your skin is, what your sexual preference or what God you believe in, because we are in this together. We are a tribe. There is not one family on planet earth that is perfect, we all make mistakes, we all are just trying to live our best lives. What if terrorist were introduced to the simple act of breathing and endorphins? Would their hopelessness turn into joy and peace like it does for so many of us?
I don’t know of any ultra runners that are mass murderers or murderers of any kind. They might be some complete jerks out there, but they aren’t on a mission to kill anybody. They might do a little self abuse, but these things have a way of sorting themselves out, too. We have all done some self punishment, but we come to realize through injury and other mishaps, that it doesn’t serve us to be cruel.
We all have a choice, but maybe the mass murderers of the world felt they had no choice because they deeply believed and identified with their fear and need to control, or maybe they are just mentally ill. I don’t know what kind of thoughts go through the mind of someone who could commit these kinds of acts, but I do know what it feels like to be deeply sad, bitter with anger, sick with jealously, and yes, even hopeless… many times over.
In those moments I had a choice and when I could… I ran.
I have run until I was sobbing. I have run until I was screaming out loud. I have run until I was breathless. I have run until I surrendered my fear. I have run in the darkness until a breathtaking sunrise stopped me in my tracks. That’s what running does, it stops you in your tracks. It has this funny way of disintegrating your darkness.
Change begins with a community, with a household, with one person. We can’t control what happens around us, but we can be confident with ourselves and that happens when we surrender our fear. For me personally, that surrender happens when I trail run. Underneath my anger lies joy and peace. Underneath my need to control lies creativity and light. Underneath the sadness lies the one simple thing that would stop all of this madness in the world… love.
I have a big, bold, dramatic title, and maybe it’s not that simple, perhaps I’m naive, but if peace begins with you, then I can’t help wondering “what if everybody ran?”
“Would it change the world?”
“Would it end the violence?”
“Would it eradicate the division and hatred?”