When I typed my last post I realised that what I’d told the young girl was a convenient half-truth. I was running up the hill to get fit - but only to get fit for running itself. I was not answering the question of why I run. That is something far more complicated.
I actually believe that if you just want to keep generally fit, running more than a few miles a week is not sensible. You need to do a range of activities that use all of the major muscle groups and work on strength, flexibility, and cv stamina. Running could be a part of that but weight bearing exercise like cycling or swimming might be better.
Running repetitively strains certain parts of the body and makes us vulnerable to injury. I have a vague recollection reading about a tactic from Bill Rodgers who said when he was introduced to someone he might have met but didn’t recognise he just asked how the injury was going. The other runner was always grateful for the concern.
It’s a bit like the cold reading technique of mediums, except with runners you know you are always going to be right. There will always be some tale of woe about the calve, knee, ankle, achilles, hamstring or glutes. Whatever it is it is no great advert for the health benefits of our sport.
The reasons I have for running are varied and any one time I might find a partial explanation. But they do not include general fitness.
One of the things they do include though is the sense of peace you can get on a Sunday morning. Today I went for a 30-minute hilly run before breakfast at 7.30. It was the perfect temperature you get when the day is just preparing to be hot; a few people were about, but not many. There was sense of awakening.
After getting back, stretching, showering and breakfast, I sat drinking coffee, listening to one of Keith Jarrett’s solo concerts, feeling completely clear and relaxed.
You see that is just not an answer you can give to an 8 year old – I run because when I finish I can listen to Keith Jarrett and feel at peace.