How I Stuck With Running…Or, You Always Remember Your First One

What do Tom Petty, unemployment, and euphoric crying jags have in common?

Working together, they all got me to stuck on running.

In my last post, I described how a $100 inheritance and an urge to show off to second graders got me started. This time, I’ll tell you what got me hooked on it like a crack fiend.

Not long after I began running, I found out that I was being laid off, for the second time in a year. Understandably I was anxious, but I also had mixed feelings about the whole thing. This particular position had sucked the joy, the enthusiasm, and the life out of me. My family wasn’t getting the best of me at the end of the day (oh, it wasn’t pretty at times), and I resented my job for for all that it was draining and deflating from me. But we had just moved (in part due to my first layoff) and had just bought a house. The job market was tanking fast. I was a big ball of anxiety.

Enter running. I had made a killer running mix, which included a song from Tom Petty called “I Should’ve Known It”. If you’re not familiar with that song, it’s angry in both it’s lyrics and it’s guitar riffs. But it’s also a butt-kicking rally cry, with it’s main lyric singing, “It’s the last time your gonna hurt me.” One day, soon after the layoff notice, this song came on at about mile 3. I thought, “THIS IS THE LAST TIME THIS JOB IS GOING TO PISS ME OFF. I WILL NEVER, EVER ALLOW MY SOUL TO BE SUCKED OUT BY A JOB LIKE THIS EVER AGAIN.” Then, midway through the song…

I started crying. Big, fat sloppy tears, running nose, even sniveling. But with this cry came not sadness or anger, but an uplifting, soaring feeling that washed over me and I realized: EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY. I swear I heard the Hallelujah Chorus!

I had no idea at the time what the heck was going on with me. I can only imagine what I must have looked like, running down the road, tears streaming down my face but with a giant, goofy smile. That, my friends, is the misunderstood-but-often-chased-after runner’s high, as it turns out.

I was hooked. I felt so good, so positive, so downright giddy after I was finished (and for hours afterward) that I had to do it again. And again…and again.  I have had other runner’s highs since then, but none as lovely nor a memorable as that one. (I guess you always remember your first.)

Runners, may you never face unemployment, and maybe Tom Petty isn’t your thing, but may you always have many euphoric crying jags to keep you going.