I know that running makes me happy, but I have only recently learned why that is.
It all started when I was folding laundry the other day. Most of you know that we don’t have cable or satellite TV and that for the most part we are anti-boob tube.
But the long hours of summer finally caught up with me the other day, and so I turned on the darn tube and watched a documentary on Netflix called “Happy” while I folded the eighteenth pair of compression shorts and matched the hundredth pair of running socks.
About ten minutes in to the movie I had one of my epiphanies (I do not refer to them as Aha! moments per Oprah Winfrey because that is far too cliché) about why it is that I continue to torture myself out on the pavement even though most of the time I would describe the activity of running as painful.
In the movie, Claremont Graduate University psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who originally proposed the idea, explains the concept of Flow, which I think describes my experience when I run a marathon.
Flow is basically "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.” (source)
Sound familiar? It explains my daily run, especially my tempo runs and track workouts, which seem to bring me a lot more happiness than the junk miles. That is because they require much more focus, which completely takes me out of my own troubles for a while and allows me the freedom to just be.
Finally, I am a bit closer to understanding just why someone might race 26.2 miles. For fun.
And why something that makes me miserable actually makes us smile.
Speaking of misery, my washing machine is very ill and is ready for the boys to go back to school.
I have never seen my machine throw up, but here is the evidence that today it finally did.
I am sure that if it could talk it would say, “I am not washing one more ice-cream-stained t-shirt or one more dirty pair of socks! I hate summer! I just want it to over.”
I would have to agree.
I will be sad to see the boys go on Monday morning, but I will be happy to have a refrigerator without peanut butter finger prints and bathrooms without inside-out wet bathing suits hanging from every single hook.
Between now and then it looks like I’ll be running a race, getting into the Flow and then nursing my sad washing machine back to health.
“There there,” I will say. “Things will be back to normal soon…I promise.”