Monday, April 5, 2010

Becoming and Being - A Heideggerian Runner

Many run; only few are runners.

I am of the lot that runs but is not yet a runner. Being a runner entails doing things that my lot does not do. Being a runner means having rituals around running (such as this and that). Any non-runner can don shoes and hit the road, I have been told, but it takes a runner to wear the right shoes, tighten the laces the right way to the right degree, wear the right layers, religiously empty one's bowels even if takes more than an morning hour on the seat, check the weather forecast for the wind speed and direction, confirm the forecast hasn't changed since last checked the previous night, strap on the gps, be particular about what one has for dinner, ...

I have yet to develop such rituals.

I am primarily a bicyclist who started running last summer in an attempt to introduce some variety to my riding. At the trail-end, (it marked the midpoint of my ride), I would rest my bike while I ran a mile or two and then bike back home. Running seemed to exercise certain muscles that biking did not and I found running helped my biking. This encouraged me to run regularly. The biking+running routine continued until winter set in. When the weather turned cold, I barely ventured out on my bike. Running became my sole cardiovascular activity in winter.
When it began to snow, I took to the treadmill. In the company of an elite runner, a couple of times I ventured to run on snow and even in rain. I discovered that running in rain isn't as bad as I earlier held it to be; however, running on snow, especially in a snow storm with icy winds blowing in the face, is definitely no fun. Running on icy paths is worst; one must be crazy enough to do that.
I have now begun to enjoy running in a way I have not enjoyed before. It reminds me of the times when as kids my brother and I were woken up for our early morning runs. Sometimes we would drag ourselves out of the house, other times we were marched out. I don't remember enjoying running then. Sometimes we even cheated, sprinkling water on ourselves to pass it off as sweat and earn our entry back in the house. My elder brother was a different case, though; he was  a runner, a long-distance runner minus all the rituals.
This time, however, running is different. I am beginning to enjoy it. In January, I ran 5-miles plus for the first time. Since then, I have been running 6-mile plus two to three times a week. Some of this running has gone to my head, most of it has gone to my knee. My head is swelling; my knee is swollen. The knee has begun to hurt and I think it might be ITBS. Now this is where biking seems to help. By working the quads (which is an important muscle in balancing the knee) and relieving the tension in the lower back that in the past has been associated with sciatic pain, I find that I run better the day after I have biked. Bicyclists too develop ITBS but my knee never smarted from my riding before and even now biking is proving to be therapeutic more than aggravating the pain from running.
Sans the rituals, I might not yet qualify to be a runner; but, hopefully, running the half-marathon in Boston will have me rubbing shoulders with runners. And that might make me a runner by association.

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