Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Privilege of Running

When I stop and think about running, through my bouts of loving it and hating it, I never let myself forget that running is a privilege. It isn't a right, or a pastime, or some leisurely thing. It truly is a privilege to lace up my shoes, put one foot in front of the other and run. Run short or far, fast or slow. It is so easy to take for granted. We rarely think about what it takes for our bodies to go right foot-left foot-right foot-left foot.

This is usually the thing I focus on during a marathon when I feel like quitting or sitting down and not getting back up. I am privileged to be out there running.

Now, I won't lie. It doesn't soften every run. Make my legs feel magically alive and free of pain, but it mentally pushes me to the limit, doesn't let me dwell on how tired I am or why do I have to suffer the pain of this marathon.

This "privilege" is never more apparent than when I hear of someone who cannot run. Not because they are clumsy or non-athletic, but because their body is failing them in some way. I know this gal, not even 40, her body is slowly being controlled by multiple sclerosis. MS is an auto-immune disease that in some form or fashion affects the central nervous system. Often times making it hard for its hosts to use their limbs, whether it be feet, legs, hands or arms. It also impacts the brain. There is no cure. There isn't even a great deal to delay its advancement on the body.

When I hear this gal tell me her legs give way. She falls. She has a harder time walking. She feels tired often. She is more prone to illnesses like the common cold and flu. I wonder what she wouldn't give to run a mile. Would she relish in the pain that the mile would bring her. The burning lungs, the tired legs, the sweat on the brow.

My second thought is often of guilt. The guilt that I can run. That I was given the privilege of running and she wasn't. I like to think this is a normal reaction and that most sisters would feel this if it were their sister with MS.

I run most steps for my sister. My sister is a runner, just not in the typical sense. She is through me.


  1. My cousin has MS and is confined to a wheelchair. I have another cousin, and my mom who also have autoimmune diseases. I too sometimes feel guilty that I can run, and when I see them at their worst, I'm grateful that I can.

  2. Running truly is a privilege and there is nothing like your story to remind us of that. Thank you for sharing.

  3. soooo true!!! i love running just because I'm a little weird, but mostly because I am so amazed each time i do it that my body can. It's important to always remember how lucky we are...though it's easy to lose site of it when we start thinking PR's and such