I know it must be a shock to learn that I think about running all the time but maybe not in the way you think. Yes, we have a business to run and it is a wonderful business. We get to help people become healthier, realize previously unattainable goals, join wonderful communities and participate in events with thousands of like-minded people from all different walks of life.
For many runners that have come to it through Charm City Run or always known it, running is a staple. It is what we do. We do not really know how to function without it. When we get negative or weird or stressed about petty things, usually we look in the mirror and say, “Oh, I have not run yet.”
After forty minutes, things seem to reset and proper perspective is realized. This is the gift that I really want to give people, the ability to reset, retool and find peace. People get weirded out when I say running is religion to me. Maybe that is overboard but part of religion is finding inner peace and comfort with oneself…right? Well in that sense running is religion.
I have a California sister and that is great because they are basically trending a decade ahead of us on what is cool and with no offense to any Californians but many of those trends focus on self-improvement and inner peace. I feel like meditation is in the next wave east. Everyone is talking about meditation. Meditation is very important. It all makes sense but I also think I have been doing it almost every day since I graduated college. That is what running is for me and I know many others. Sure, I may not be totally focused and I may have to look out for a few cars but I hope that the many positives found in mediation have been realized on the run in the last 24 some odd years.
Running is also a time stamp for me. In two weeks, I am going to St. Michaels with my son and Kara to run the half. Ben will be in the front with split shorts and a tank somehow making that look good and when the gun goes off he will be gone. I will try to be respectable in that no man’s land of not being fast enough to be an age group winner but not slow enough to just find satisfaction in finishing. Kara will struggle through the 5K as the last 15 years for her can be surmised by a question that plagues too many runners, “Why won’t my knees work.”
If I did not realize the gift of running, Kara’s disappointment in not being able to do it would be a constant reminder of the gift that it is. When people ask me if I am worried about my knees, I always reply that I understand the deal that I have struck with my body and I realize the gift may be taken away some day. I will live with that but to not do something that makes me so happy because of a potential future problem is not something I am willing to consider.
When Ben was almost one he saw me start and finish the Chicago Marathon. The temperature was below 40 and Kara had him all bundled up, taking him to various parts on the course to cheer me on. Thanks Kara. In those days, I pushed him in the Baby Jogger a lot. It seems that kids understand the gift of moving outside. They look at trees, point at things and then go to sleep. Pretty good 40 minutes.
When Ben was about 8, we started going on short runs. He would walk/run and do some 5Ks. It was all about time together and of course picking out where we would go to breakfast afterwards. When Ben reached middle school, I would go slow so we could stay together and catch up. He would start asking me questions about life and politics and the way things are. I would answer certain questions to the best of my knowledge and make up the rest as all dads do. As Kara says is that a real answer or a “dad answer”.
Something strange happens from 11 to 13. We all know that but it is amazing that in a 24-month period, you go from entertaining your child to not being able to keep with him or her. Now he is 16 and my tempo runs are his painfully slow recovery runs. Ben is a fine runner, not great, not bad. He is a better person than he is a runner but I think that running helped make him a better person. While I would like to take credit for every good thing about him, I cannot. What I hopefully can take some credit for is giving him the gift of running.
Ben will most likely not run in college, but he will always run. He understands the meditative effect. He understands that you study better after a run and he knows that when your head is not right, you go for a run. Like many of you seeking proper meditation, I enjoy running alone often but I will always run with my kids. You can be silent, you can talk, but you are always together. After some years, you may just start and finish together but that is something.
I look forward to starting and finishing with Ben in St. Michaels and going for as many runs with him as I can before my knees do not work. We have covered some miles together but even more ground.
Thanks for the time.
About The Author: Josh Levinson
Josh and his wife Kara founded Charm City Run 14 years ago. To learn more about their story, please click here.