I found out that I was a runner the winter when I was 10. The school gym was set up for gymnastics, full of taunting beams and bars that remind you that you’ll never be Nadia Comaneci. Fortunately, the Girls’ After-school Sports Club was more about being in the gym than turning into Olympic athletes, so nobody stopped me when I stopped fooling around on the mats and started running around the perimeter of the gym. It felt good to run. I ran until it was time to go home.
Years passed. In high school, I joined the track and cross-country teams. My first few practices were short and easy, and I wasn’t sure if I was officially on the team. When I kept showing up, the coach decided it was time to see what I was made of. As was the custom, a few of the older girls took me on a hilly 10-mile run. I had never run even half that far before, but they thought I could do it. They said that if I could run 10 miles, I could do anything. It felt good to run in a group, being chattered at by the others and watching their ponytails fly out behind them. I felt so alive. After that run, it wasn’t just that I knew I was a runner. Now the team knew.
More years passed, and my feet started to hurt. It wasn’t a running injury, exactly, but it was foot pain. It hurt the most when I stood around or ambled, so museums became hellish. I mostly stopped running. I saw a lot of specialists and yadda yadda.
Meanwhile, back in 1990, my husband, Adam, and I began our company, TidBITS Publishing. TidBITS is a tech website and email newsletter, and we both adore it. TidBITS covers the Macintosh computer, Apple the company, and the Internet generally. I could tell you a million things about Apple. I am going to tell you one tiny thing. That tiny thing is that Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, once said “the journey is the reward.” This is an ancient proverb, but I first heard it in connection with Steve Jobs. This quote influenced me a lot, reminding me to calm down and enjoy the present. (There is also a book about Steve Jobs called The Journey Is the Reward, by Scott Foresman. It is on my reading list.)
Decades passed. In 2016, I made friends with a therapeutic technique called myofascial release. Amazeballs! I could run! It didn’t hurt! Running felt like flying. I’d get so high on running, I’d be more of a kite in the sky than a runner on a trail. The standing and walking improved somewhat, but as far as running goes, I was set free.
But now the difficult part of running was making time for it. The more I ran, the more I wanted to run. I wanted more of this feeling I was having, this feeling of merging with the landscape and of moving forward toward something more important, more transcendent, than the next deadline at work. Plus, it didn’t seem right that I felt guilty about adding a 20-minute run to my day. Something had to change. I started with my attitude. I began running most days, even if that meant my work suffered. Running was playing, and I wanted to play in all the types of running: trails runs, group runs, track workouts, hill workouts, long runs, slow runs, fast runs, races, everything. And, I wanted to understand what I thought I was running toward.
One thing I was running away from, certainly, was my overloaded work schedule. From 2003 through 2017, TidBITS had published a series of ebooks, called Take Control Books. From the beginning, I was editor-in-chief of the series, and for many years it was my dream job. But as time had passed, I had become ready for new challenges, and in 2017, TidBITS sold the series to Joe Kissell, a talented and prolific Take Control author who was also looking for a change. With Take Control sold, I can now run guilt-free most days, and I’ll say more about what I am now doing with my time in a future blog post.
I am still experiencing running as a feeling of traveling toward something that is important and alluring. Right now, I don’t care whether I ever get there—what I’ve come to understand is that the point of it is to be running—what happens after that is ancillary. Running is never a burden or a thing I have to make myself do. Plenty of things that I do are difficult, and sometimes I have to bribe myself into doing them. But running… running is the reward.