I have a complicated relationship with running. It's complicated because I was a runner, as in, running was a cornerstone of my identity. And to further complicate things, I was of the self-loathing variety: distance runner. I turned to it out of athletic desperation. It's the sport of last resort when you lack the coordination to get a ball safely back to a pitcher, or the size to open a gap on an offensive line. I ran, and I ran away from my problems.
I gave it up when I got to college and started hitting the weights. Hard. I went from being 6', 125 pounds to 175 pounds by the end of my freshman year. I didn't have a drink on campus that entire year and I ate as cleanly as possible. It was all bulky, useless muscle. I stayed that way for nine years. No functional strength. I was not fit. I was not healthy.
That all changed when I met my wife, then my girlfriend. She got into running, so I ran again. She got into metabolic conditioning, and so did I. I ditched my gym membership for a set of kettlebells and didn't look back. Eventually I found my way to jiu jitsu, and that physically humbled me in a new way. But I had forgotten entirely about running.
I was listening to Steve Maxwell on the Joe Rogan Experience last week, and he was talking about the need to run. Running is our first line of self-defense. It's also an essential survival skill. It is something every human should be able to do and do well. It's one of the first athletic abilities we acquire. And when was the last time I ran?
At the track this morning, my head lit up with endorphins as I kicked my legs into a gear they hadn't used in a couple of years, the wind whistling in my ears, the orange surface of the track a blur under my feet. The workout, a basic sprint progression, kicked my ass. It had been too long since I had run. And it made me realize something: Humans are not runners, or lifters, or throwers. We are not specialists. We are generalists. And we would do well to train, think and live accordingly.