By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - We briefly interrupt the NFL, college football, NBA, college basketball and NHL seasons to ask a simple question: Why do we run?

(OK, before we get to the question, and to stop the emails from coming in, I know the NHL has interrupted its own season. But we're still hearing about the labor negotiations with ice hockey and trying to stay awake during them).

Alright, back to the question of why we run.

In an effort of full disclosure, I bring up today's topic because my wife and I just completed -barely for me - a half marathon at Walt Disney World. For those unfamiliar with the distance, it's a run of 13.1 miles. Loosely translated, half marathon, as described by some dictionary somewhere, means really far.

That's the point.

Running, or jogging, can be therapeutic and challenging. A runner sets a goal and when he or she reaches it, it's a wonderful feeling.

And running can also just be fun, something to do in order to get outside and breathe the fresh air.

But running really far, with 14,000 of your closest friends in Mickey Mouse's neighborhood, is surreal.

Running really far, like a half marathon - or it's really big brother the full marathon - hurts. And not to mention the miles and miles put in to get ready for the big race.

Your back.

Your knees.

Your ankles.

Your hips.

Your feet. Oh, yes, your poor feet.

Even though the running shoe industry is a multi-million dollar business, there's only so much they can do to help your feet.

And, unbelievably, for a growing number of runners, going barefoot is the new thing. Somewhere, two-time Olympian Zola Budd is smiling.

But on we go and when you look at the number of long distance runners, they're on the rise.

In 2010, over 500,000 runners finished, finished being the key word, marathons in the U.S.

In 2012, there will be over 600 marathons held in the U.S. In other words, if you want to run one, or 10, it won't be too hard to find one. And don't laugh about the 10, folks do it.

Case in point about how hard core long distance runners can be?

Last January, Disney World held a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon on Sunday. Of the 20,000 or so who completed the half marathon, nearly 8,000 of them returned less than 24 hours to complete the full marathon.

I'm not making this up. That's nearly 40 miles. Words can't describe running 40 miles in two days. How many aspirin must one take?

I just shake my head.

Oh, and that marathoner's high you hear about, the one runners of the 26.2 mile distance are supposed to feel, I just don't get.

Believe it or not, the author, me, completed a marathon a lifetime ago - nearly 25 years to the day. Now, the high could still be coming, but I think it should've arrived by now.

I'm as patient as the next guy, but a quarter century seems like ample time for this "high" to hit.

Who knows? Maybe it does take 25 years. I'll let you know. But if it does happen, chances are it will while I'm sitting on the couch. That would be fitting. Or that would be sitting.

I'll take it any way I can get it.

Have we properly answered the question of why we run? Probably not. Just like anything else, I guess, people run because they like it.

Maybe the increase in the amount of runners is do, in part, to the economy.

It's cheap to run. It cleanses the mind, too. And, I've learned the hard way, in moderation it can be a very good form of exercise to keep the unwanted pounds at bay.

Those are some pretty good reasons, but there are plenty more. Just keep the aspirin handy.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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