A couple days ago, I read a funny status update on Facebook. It went something like this: "When I see a jogger smiling, I'll give it a try." How many runners look like they're having fun? Not many. There's one particular runner I see most mornings, huffing, puffing, shaking his head and willing himself to run up the hill. It looks like every step is agony, yet he runs day after day. Why?
Personally, I don't have any logical reason for running. I've been walking every morning for nearly 6 months. Through diet and exercise, I've steadily lost weight (86 pounds, 37 to go). My resting heart rate has dropped from 90 to 60 beats per minute. I look and feel better than I have in years. Everything has been working great, yet I feel the urge to run. Why? When it sometimes hurts, why?
The short answer is that it feels so good when I stop! But there's a longer answer.
I can only speak for myself, but one reason I run is because it's real. So much of what I do is spent in the virtual world – in my brain, really – updating my website, sending out performance notices, engraving music, and so forth. I construct a little world in my head as I work at the computer, but if you want a heavy dose of reality, step outside and take a run. There's nothing virtual about running. You feel it right away! You'll feel your muscles working and your heart pounding, and you'll develop a deep appreciation for oxygen. Take a run and you'll quickly discover where your physical limits are. Keep running consistently and soon you'll feel your body getting stronger.
My frame is more suitable for a linebacker than a distance runner, but I prefer endurance activities. You can develop a lot of mental toughness through endurance sports as you keep going and going. It's not far removed from the same mindset you need to develop technique on a musical instrument. You don't see the results right away, but after a time, if you stop and look back, you'll be amazed at how far you've traveled.
At this point, I'm running a lowly 2.8 miles three times a week, broken up here and there by a couple bouts of walking. In another couple weeks, I'll be able to run 3+ miles without a walking break. I'm not stopping there, though. In 2004, as I was starting to learn how to play guitar, I set a goal of becoming a professional level guitarist by 2010. Now, as a beginning runner, my goal is to run a marathon by 2015.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.