Running, and the Meaning of Life

“Watching young children run around the playground, it is evident that something special is taking place when we move on two legs. Indeed, it is a form of locomotion that makes humans unique from most other animals. There is no shortage of scientists studying running from every possible angle: physiological, biochemical, anatomical, biomechanical, medical, psychological, evolutionary, cognitive, and emotional. Not only is bipedal running unique, how humans think about running and about themselves as runners is also unique. The reason that humans are the only animals that think about running is, of course, the size and complexity of our brains. Unlike even our nearest mammalian ancestors—apes and monkeys—humans have the ability to look inward and think about themselves, their place in the world, and how to improve their characteristics. Unlike other animals, we are aware of our own mind, our own soul, and our own emotions. And that gives us a tremendous amount of power and responsibility.

Running may be simple, but it is also extremely complex, because human beings are complex. And that’s what makes running so interesting. It allows us to look inward—at the inner runner—to find out who we really are and embrace the challenge of discovering our true selves. Sometimes we find out things we don’t want to know. Not every time I have run a race do I cross the finish line feeling like I gave it everything I had. There have been many times I have felt guilty, that I knew there was something else I could have done in that race that I did not do. It bothers me, because I feel like I have failed myself. Sometimes that happens in life. We fail ourselves. But also like life, we often have another chance.”

Excerpted from The Inner Runner

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A portion of sales go to the American Heart Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure in memory of my parents.


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