Thursday, May 24, 2012

Running Changes You

I wrote a speech for Toastmasters and gave it on 5/24.  I left my most up to date notes at my desk so I didn't quite give it like this but this was somewhat of my plan.  Also I added some stuff and didn't say some stuff. I have video of the speech but it's still on a share drive at work. I will add it to youtube later. I'm awful at speeches. At one point I even looked down at my legs to see how bad they were shaking. They really were shaking a lot. This speech was done to Project 4 in the Competent Communicator Manual.

Running is more than everyone thinks.  If you set your mind to running a race, you can do it, but that’s not the point. The training leading up to the race and everything surrounding it are the important parts. That is where you change in ways you don’t expect.

You feel pain and instead of stopping, you continue and want to do it again. The more I run and the more others think I’m crazy. But the more I run, the more OK I am with appearing crazy to everyone. You get to talk to others while running to bond and  to make the run feel like a lot less work. You don’t get a sense of accomplishment just from finishing a race.

Imagine, you are running halfway through the Pittsburgh Marathon and the sun is beating down on you. You are going to melt from the sun. You look for shade anywhere possible. You run on the very edge of the road just to be in a little bit of shade.  Everyone is doing this just for some shade. Then you run to the right side of the road to run through a fire hydrant.  The water only cools you off for a couple seconds but that is better than nothing.  You wonder why you go through this.  You are sore and tired. You keep running. You think you will never do this again.  Your hip and knee hurt. You can no longer open your stride from the piercing hip pain. You need to stop to stretch every mile just to reduce the pain enough to continue on. You keep going and then you finally finish and immediately forget all the pain and start talking about the next time you will torture yourself. You even question if you tortured yourself enough during the race.  Before running if something caused me pain, I would want to quit doing that and never do it again but there is just something about running that makes you want more.

Sometimes you don’t even wait until another event or run but you just continue on after a temporary pause.

While running near Waterworks Mall, with every step, my foot had a piercing pain like a knife was stabbing into me.  A sane person may stop and see what is wrong, instead, I ran for two more miles with a constant stabbing at each step and then I didn’t stop but just mentioned it to my running buddies.  It wasn’t until another 2 miles later when I was back at my car that I saw I had a nice puddle of blood on the bottom of my sock and then a bloody toe when I took the sock off.  My first reaction was what I did; I got out a bandaid, put it on, and ran another 4 miles. After all, I planned to run 10 miles that day. Sometimes I think there is a very fine line between being a runner and being insane. I’m never quite sure if I cross over that line.

The run itself isn’t the only tough part, after the race or long run is usually worse.

After a tough long run, you no longer have the adrenaline keeping you going and your muscles are very fatigued. You can barely move. You surely don’t even want to walk up the stairs at the end of the night. In the morning, you wake up and those first few steps are agonizing. Your quads and hamstrings are tight. Your hip and knee hurt with movement. The arches of your feet feel the pain of each step. You feel like you are 90 and then you think about when your next run will be so you can do it all again. You always want to do it again only longer and faster next time!

I often heard there is a great sense of accomplishment when you finish a marathon. I thought it’d be like winning a Nobel Prize or something awesome like that. Well I’ve done that twice and ran a 50k and once I was done, I didn’t have a sense of accomplishment. I ran across the finish line and stopped and wondered why I didn’t feel any different. I had accomplished this big task and yet I just didn’t feel it. On the other hand, when I finished I felt a sense of relief and a great sense wanting to do another race. I wonder if I just need a longer race to feel that sense of accomplishment. I’m not sure when this cycle will end but it started with running a 5k and I’m up to a 50k with many races in between. {This is where I got out all my medals from 2012 and my trophies and put them on the table.} Maybe I will train for a 50 mile race in the fall.  The more I run, the more I want to run. Yet the more I run, the more others think I’m crazy for doing it.

During a long run, your mind goes through so much more than you realize.  You spend so much time with just your thoughts and the open road. It’s a great stress reliever.  I feel so much more insightful and eloquent in my thoughts while running.

But in addition to having deeper thoughts while running alone, you think and say those things when running with others.  When I run with a friend, I’m more likely to share more personal information than if I was just sitting there relaxing with them. According to Jordan Chase on Dexter (season 5, episode 9), intense exercise will help you open up. Imagine running with a friend and hearing a story/any story; It makes the running seem non existent and you are just there for the story and conversation. It’s great. You are both exposed. I love when people share more personal information about themselves and I have only recently discovered that they do this while running.  I wish I knew this years ago. I love just getting a little closer to a person’s soul. You also form a strong bond with those that you run with.{Oh man am I sad to be leaving all my running friends.}

Running changes you in ways you don’t expect. If you want to see what it’s like to be in pain and want more of it, become a runner. Don’t become one for a sense of accomplishment. Start running with others for an almost immediate strong bond.

Photo credit: Paul Meyer Photography


  1. Is Toastmasters something you have to do for work, or did you just take it up on your own? Is it like a club, or a class, or neither of those things?

    1. Toastmasters is a club like NA-YGN. It's all on your own time. It does benefit you in other ways because you practice speeches and you practice speaking in front of people. You also give feedback and hear other feedback. It's through work but they have them all over. Dave already looked into it and Google has Toastmasters too. The Toastmasters at Westinghouse meets weekly... every Thursday from 12-1. But attendance isn't mandatory. Also you pay a fee to join because you need the specific toastmasters materials. But they also allow you to attend as a guest for as long as you want.

    2. Also the speeches you give are on anything you want. But at each meeting they have "Table Topics" where you volunteer to go to the front, are asked a question, then have 1 minute to respond. I have yet to volunteer for one of those.

    3. Oh, that sounds fun. I bet Toastmasters is probably not for people who already think public speaking and having to answer impromptu questions is fun, though.

      How many do you have left to volunteer for one of those?

    4. Some people are good and they just want to present better or they weren't good and got good so they like the club and stay involved.

      I have 1 more meeting left that I could do a table topics at.

  2. I am going to really miss our runs together and all of our talking. Good speech! Do you mind if I link to this in a post in my blog?

  3. Replies
    1. Here's the youtube link: