Saturday, February 5, 2011

Does Running = Optimism?

I smile a lot. I laugh a lot. As it says in my profile, I tend to laugh loudly and inappropriately. An actor I once toured with commented, at the end of our tour, “Sharon, do you know what was the first thing I noticed about you? You laugh at EVERYTHING.”

“Well,” I replied, “It’s better than the alternative, isn’t it?”

I don’t know if I consider myself to be an optimist. I don’t think the glass is half full, or half empty. I just think it’s twice as big as it needs to be. But I do think that there is a certain amount of optimism that is unavoidable when you are a runner. Why else would we get out of bed at 5:30 on a freezing Saturday morning to run a half marathon (like so many of my friends & I did two weekends ago)?

This thinking about optimism, and running as optimism, started because of a very wise bag of tea I steeped a few days ago (pictured above). Some wheels in my brain started turning, pondering this idea. As runners, as individuals, as people are we running after satisfaction? In some ways, we have to.

Getting up and facing each day isn’t always easy, but doing so with purpose means it is not a choice, but a goal.

Running isn’t always easy. Sometimes, it’s awful. Sometimes, it’s painful. But seeing every mile as a bridge to the next achievement makes it all worth it.

The satisfaction that comes from within can come from knowing that this time, on this occasion, you caught up with what it was you were running after.

I love challenges. Knowing that I’m waking up tomorrow morning and setting out for a 21 mile run excites me because I hope that when I am finished with that last mile, I’ll be able to say that I pushed myself hard and got where I wanted to be. When I’m tired, when I want to stop, I won’t. I’ll see it through to the last step. Has my training for marathons trained me to be an optimist? Or am I just stubborn?

I know one thing’s for sure…

If life seems jolly rotten

There's something you've forgotten

And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps

Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.


  1. hmmmm. yes, you do laugh a lot, but thats fine by me. i agree with you BUT i was already an optimistic person when i started to run. and i know runners who are not optimistic, which is strannnnnge. my take on running, is that it instills the idea of 'hope.'

  2. That is indeed a very wise bag of tea. But I would say that you're more of a realist than an optimist. You push yourself not because you believe, or hope, that you can accomplish your goals but because you know in your heart, and in your gut, that you can. That, to me, is the difference between optimism and realism. Mayhaps it's just semantics but I've always felt like there was an element of blind faith to optimism. I don't think there's anything blind about you. You are deeply entrenched in reality and, were you nailed to a cross I think you'd be thoroughly pissed about it. And rightfully so. That would suck. I wish I had a tea-bag that said something like that. "Being nailed to cross would thoroughly suck." I would drink that tea. ...and I love you. The end.


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