Running Motivation: Why Running Is Better Than Sex

The spiritual dimension that gets people hooked on running

Me, my husband Cesar and my son Diego, a few years back

Running is orders of magnitude better than many things I find awesome.

I just chose sex as the comparison because sex is the quintessential point of reference when judging the awesomeness of human activities. Ok, ok, also so you’d want to read the article since- haven’t you heard? – sex sells.

Oh, and by the way, the comparison might make you think my sex life is totally lacking. Sorry, but you’ll never know whether it’s amazing, satisfactory, or non-existent. I’m too shy and old fashioned to discuss my sex life with the world.

Anyhow, the point is that I love to run.

Running is like religion without gods or hierarchy.

I say this as a non-religious person who had a very Catholic upbringing and likes to pray.

Unlike in the religions I know, though, anyone can join the running community and become a runner. No approval, initiation or ritual required. All you need to do is run. Slow or fast, with good or bad form, in sandals or the latest running shoes, competitively or recreationally, alone or with a club — it’s all good.

Like religion, running is spiritual.

At times, a phrase or sentence comes to mind and you find yourself saying it over and over, like when you’re praying the rosary. “You are calm and strong,” is a frequent mantra for me.

Running reveals truths.

Once in a while, something extraordinary happens and a truth is revealed to you on a run. You’re out there rhythmically pounding the ground and suddenly it’s clear: “Diego (my autistic son) will be OK,” or, “Love is the answer.” These revelations may sound cliché but they feel overwhelmingly meaningful when they come to you while running.

When I really don’t feel like running, the possibility of hitting upon a Truth motivates me to get my butt out the door.

I love how these insights make me feel. Unlike beliefs or possibilities, there’s a certainty and clarity to them that bring excitement and joy.

And, although a revelation’s clarity always dims by the time you’ve taken a post-run shower, the positive feeling does linger. The ideas, though no longer felt as Truths, remain powerful and do influence my actions.

There may be many ways to evoke this marvelous feeling, but running is the best way I know how.

I believe all runners are a bit masochistic, in that the pain attracts us to the sport.

Pain adds purpose to running. Pain is also humbling, even when it’s controlled and you know it’s temporary.

Weird, but pain makes me feel one with humanity. It triggers thoughts like, “Imagine how my dad must have felt when he burned his body as a child,” and “This is nothing compared to childbirth without anesthesia,” and even, “How did people even make it through the suffering of concentration camps?”

Running involves a battle between body and mind.

It feels good to have it out with your body and have your mind win, especially when the battle is a tough one.

Sometimes your legs and lungs won’t cooperate and your body implores you to quit and go home. Or it’s a lot colder than you thought and your body knows full well it could be in a warm and cozy sofa in a matter of minutes if your masochistic mind just called it quits.

The clash can turn epic when you set yourself up for a pace or distance challenge. That’s when your mind has to be in top form and be unforgiving of the body begging it for permission to give up.

Why, some may ask, would anyone even want to engage in this insanely unnecessary battle?

Because, thanks to the struggle, the instant the run is over, you feel the euphoria of having pushed through. (Sounds a bit like sex, doesn’t it?)

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