I have never been high-maintenance. Don’t get me wrong, I care about my looks; I’m as vain as anyone. Well, maybe not some people (see left). I don’t own a purse. I don’t accessorize. I hardly get haircuts and don’t get me started on what becoming a stay-at-home mom does to one’s shower-to-run ratio.
The other day I was wondering if I’m low maintenance because I run, or if I run because I’m low maintenance. It’s a very chicken-and-egg kind of thing.
Speaking of running and vanity, you know what bothers me? It bothers me when people assume I run to look hot. The only things I do for the purpose of possibly looking hot are: 1) blow drying my hair; 2) putting make-up on; and 3) dressing in clothes not made for running. In fact, running has nothing to do with looking hot. In fact, I run so I don’t have to think about that crap.
We as women are encouraged to disguise our most human features. Shave your legs, pluck your eyebrows, paint your nails, color your hair, hide your flaws, cover and distract with ruffles and lace. And don’t forget to smile! Razors, tweezers, polish, dye, ruffles and lace lie. Smiles sometimes lie too.
To run is to embrace the truth of our humanity. To run is to declare we are human beings from the crown of the road. I run! I breathe! I sweat! I spit! I grimace! I poop! I suffer! Spandex and Garmins don’t lie. Grimaces usually don’t lie either.
Running is so very human; it is truth. In this crazy world where people who want to be president duke it out on Politifact for biggest lie of the year, where spin is simultaneously expected and ignored, where people are famous for being famous, where reality TV is anything but real, where our relationships are 90% contained within smartphones, where everyone fronts on social media, where we’re supposed to spend countless hours and dollars hiding every flaw in our appearances, where we’re all working overtime to perpetuate the fantasy that we’re exceptional, running reminds us of the truth that we’re not.
The truth is that we are all human: skin, bone, muscle, blood, and soul. No bloviating or makeup or implants or camera angles can change this. Those things merely distract from this reality, and also from the other reality: that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.
Self-centeredness, self worship, and selfies. It’s all about ME! Or so we’d like to think. What many people don’t understand about running is that it is not a selfish activity. Running, in fact, puts us in our place. Running connects us to the Earth. It fills us with bits of atmosphere. It blankets us with the sun’s particles. It connects our minds to our bodies and our bodies to the universe. When we run we emit sweat, breath, adrenaline, doubt, fear, discomfort, bliss. When we run we relate with the universe.
When we run we exist. I run, therefore I am.
To run together, then, is to experience our place in this universe together. It is to be connected. As humans we sweat, strive and suffer together. To run is to be human. To run together is to commune. To run is to exist. To run together is to coexist, to belong.
We run, therefore we are.
Through running alone or together we experience the most human of experiences.
Through running, we connect.
Through running, we cope.
Through running, we love.
Through running, we hurt.
Through running, we commit.
Through running, we commune.
Through running, we heal.
Through running, we adapt.
Through running, we give.
Through running, we strive.
Through running, we matter.
Through running we exist.
Through running we exist as our Selves, the women underneath the ruffles and the make-up. Women independent of their men. Women with agency and free will. Women who are human beings who sometimes don’t smile, who sometimes smell bad, who sometimes don’t want to do the maintenance, who sometimes want to simply be. Through running we are human beings.
I still couldn’t tell you if it’s the chicken or the egg. I also couldn’t tell you if I run because I’m low maintenance or if I’m low maintenance because I run. I can tell you that I run to revel in my humanity, to connect to something bigger than myself and to just be … hot or not … me.
I couldn’t think of a way to write how grateful I am that running brought Salty Running into my life without sounding like a total sap. But it was so simple to write that there are no other people I’d like to coexist with than all of you Salties out there!
We here at Salty Running wish you all a very merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years! We’ll mostly be taking a break from posting, but will have a big announcement next week! Stay tuned!
For all the 12 Days of Running posts, go here!