Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Which tribe?

My husband missed his flight over the weekend resulting him spending an additional day in Talloires, France. Stranded he had said as he explained that the local taxi company had forgotten to organize his ride to Geneva's International Airport. Ooops, they had just forgotten. It was close to midnight on the American continent when he called to let me know that there would be a 24 hour delay on his return. I was too tired to get cross and cranky at him missing our five year olds' Field Day or leaving me to break the news to the kids that Daddy wouldn't be home for Sunday dinner. What did cross my mind was the disappointment that my training program would yet again suffer due to his travel commitments.

I try not to let these changes affect my training. When I started training with the group and following their program I realized that I couldn't do what most people do and go for a morning run. The mornings are just too busy in a household with two young kids and a husband trying to suit up for work. For me to get out there and run the distances I needed it would mean a five o'clock start, and to be honest that thought just scares me. Even at the peak of my physical activity reveille was six o'clock and it was the potential reaction of the sergeant major that squashed any argument or tardiness. At that time it was only an hour 'boot camp' session that we called military circuits, not an individual run that could last for over an hour – or longer if I bottomed out and had to walk.

So when my husband finally got home he greeted me with a copy of the European Financial Times. In it was an article exploring the "long-distance love" written by Paris based Simon Kuper. The article looked to explore how running became a global craze and why it became trendy in the late 1960's. It was a story told through the book review of five books: Born to Run (Christopher McDougall), What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami), Once a Runner (John L. Parker Jr), Blade Runner (Oscar Pistorius) and A Race Like No Other (Liz Robbins). It was a great read.

The article discussed a thought of there being two distinctive groups, or 'tribes' of runners. The first are the casual runners. Those that trudge the pavement to tick the box for a fitness goal achieved for the day; that run to keep the weight off. The second tribe is the serious runners who run longer distances. These runners choose to run for reasons beyond general health and fitness. Reasons that are hard to articulate into words. Serious runners push through the pain for a sense of achievement and exhilaration that can only be known at the individual level. Regardless, this tribe identifies with each other and rallies around with unspoken acceptance and acknowledgement of achievement.

I headed out for a run shortly after reading the article. The target was eight miles. I wasn't sure whether I was up to it although I knew that I wanted it. It started out slow and I hit the first mile marker nearing 12 minutes. I watched the cars whizzing by carrying people home after a day at the office. It dawned on me how fortunate I was to be out there and how much enjoyment I was getting. I thought of the article and debated in my mind as to which tribe I would fall under. I thought of and tried to channel a Kenyan warrior running across the Rift Valley with a heart of a lion but as gracious as a gazelle. Eight miles and the smile did not leave my face. I am sure those in their cars whizzing by were eying me with bemusement categorizing me as some warped or demented individual.

1 hr 21 mins – it felt good and I was totally exhilarated. Tribe? Well, the jury is still out and only time will tell.


Anonymous said...

Loved the post! I read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running and really enjoyed it. I have a few others that were mentioned in the list that I want to read.

As far as which tribe I'm in...well, I am definitely in tribe #1...running for health and fitness. However, I secretly want to be in tribe 2...I want to be the "go the distance" runner, but first I must carve out more time in my schedule (and w/3 kids that's really hard) and build up more endurance. Maybe someday. For now, I'll just keep pressing on! :-)


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