Why You Should Run – Running |The Unvictimized Edition| #3

Chapter 2
Why You Should Run

A Key To A Tolerable Existence

When I vowed off running, my ability to block everything out and get shit done deteriorated until it was completely gone. My focus broke, endurance evaporated, lung capacity deflated, physical fitness peeled off; everything generally got worse for me. Then I started running again and it all returned! It’s miraculous as far as I’m concerned; do you not want these benefits for your own life? Back when I was completely out of my mind batshit crazy, running helped me level out and stay sane… so imagine the good it could do for you!

Simply put, running is a key to a tolerable existence. Notice that I said akey, as in singular but not solitary; running is certainly not the only path you can take. Some choose to isolate themselves in mountaintop temples and meditate their way to existential toleration. Some practice martial arts and learn how to kill a human being using only their pinkie finger. Some record themselves playing video games and put the footage on the internet. Some spend obnoxious amounts of money traveling the world, and others live a nomad’s life to do the same thing but for cheap. The truly crazy ones make art – music, paintings, sculptures; some are so far gone they even put books together! For humans who already tolerate their own existence, the thought of running may never cross the mind, but that doesn’t mean it will not work for you. All it means is some humans can torture themselves and enjoy it naturally. They don’t need to run to learn how, they’re sustainably crazy all on their own.

But, let’s just assume that because you’re reading this self-help book, you are not capable of sustaining your particular insanity all on your own. That’s okay. Not everyone can be sustainably crazy by themselves… well, everyone can, but not everyone realizes it. Not yet at least, and that’s okay too. For the 99% of humanity whose crazy isn’t at the level of being able to enjoy self-torture, running is a fantastic way to get it up there. You know what they say: If you wanna get anywhere in this life, you gotta be at least a little crazy.

Speaking of which, what is life? Or better yet, what is Existence?

I have absolutely no idea. It’s weird, that’s all I can confidently put to page on the matter. Outside of that, the general consensus seems to be that it’s supported by three pillars: mind, body, and soul. And guess what; each one of those pillars has its own unique benefits to be gained from running.

The Mind

If there is one thing I learned about the mind during my go as a psychology major in the US of American higher education system, it’s that humans do not understand the human mind nearly as well as we might think we do. We think everything has a physical cause behind it; unresolved childhood trauma, inherited genes, an imbalance in neurochemicals, what have you. I’m not going to sit here and claim none of this is true – like I said, humans don’t understand the human mind nearly as well as we think we do; even with my shamanism, I’m only a human – but what if the physical “causes” are actually symptoms? Take my Lyme stuff for example – I’m pretty sure I had bacteria eating away at my brain (a physical cause) which threw the rest of my body and therefore my perception and mental health pretty far out of whack. I was also living my life in a way that made me totally and completely miserable, and when I finally stopped doing this to myself and started living the way I wanted to (which was right around the time I went through a series of events similar to the ones detailed in the appendix), the out-of-whackness started to go away.

What I’m trying to say is, although my ego loves to believe the reason my life sucked was due to variables outside of my control, there’s a solid chance my life was awful because I wasn’t living it right for me. Cut and dry, plain and simple: I did not ask, so I did not receive.

Now let me ask you something: why do humans do things? I shall also answer: in order to not feel bad, or in other words, to feel good! You go to work because earning that paycheck at the end of a hard week makes you feel good. Or maybe it doesn’t, maybe I was onto something when I wrote that you don’t really earn your own paycheck; regardless, you need money to buy food to eat and fluids to drink. You eat and drink because starving and/or dehydrating to death does not feel good. Let’s pretend nourishment is not a basic requirement of living – if things didn’t taste good, would you still eat? The answer is probably no; why would you shove stuff down your throat just to expel it out of your ass later on? That’s incredibly inefficient, you could spend that time doing something more enjoyable, something that gets you high. After all, getting high is just short language [read: slang] for entering a state of feeling good; stretching it a bit, the word high is just an acronym for harboring intense giddy happiness. Getting high is okay, we should all get high all the time. Getting high doesn’t always have to mean doing drugs.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware of the fact that the phrase getting high almost exclusively means doing drugs in our civilization. I know why this is, too: our Column A trend of pseudo-slavery of those who respire under currency. Everyone knows that pseudo-slavery of those who respire under currency inevitably leads to the pseudo-slaves ingesting foreign chemicals (some of which are natural, some of which are less so) in order to get ahead or to mellow out or to feel something, to feel anything they might be able to fool themselves into thinking it feels good. I’m aware of all that. What I’m saying is getting high literally does not have to mean doing drugs.

In fact, I can think of one circumstance in which the word high is often used that has nothing to do with drugs. And what circumstance is that? The runner’s high, of course! That unique feeling of lightness, of pure euphoria and endorphins flooding through your body after a good run. Ask anybody who runs, the runner’s high is better than the effects of any drug you could take. I sure as hell wouldn’t still be running without the runner’s high. If it wasn’t for the runner’s high at the end of the workout, I can honestly say I don’t think anybody would do it! It’s that stellar!

“Really?” I can sense you doubting aloud to an audience of yourself. “This hippie nutbar who thinks he’s Christ is telling me to run so I can get high? This is ridiculous, I’m not reading any more of this horsecock.”

Fine. Don’t. I’m sure there’s a blood moon coming up real soon.

Running isn’t all about getting high, bigshit. We’re still in the domain of the mind here, and as far as the mind is concerned, getting high is the only thing that actually matters at any given time. Getting high and having control, that is. Having control makes us feel higher than god!

I’m not speaking hyperbolically, either. All humans want to do is get high. If I had a dollar for every time I got a text or et cetera from someone saying they were high as fuck at <insert literally any function, solo, social or otherwise> I would be loaded.

Why do you go to work? Because it gives you a purpose, which makes you high. Why do you own a pet? Because they make you feel less lonely, which makes you high. Why do you pair up with another human? Because being in their presence makes you high. And why are we always trying to get high? Because when we’re not high, we can’t do a goddamn thing.

This is where depression enters the fray. As far as my experience with it has led me to understand, depression is nothing short of a prolonged state of not being high, or in other words, being low. When we feel low, we feel sluggish; our brains don’t brain right, our bodies get heavier, and even the most remedial task like, I don’t know… going outside and running around for twenty minutes seems impossible. Sure, one can transform the crippling feelings of sadness and anger into beautiful art or transmute the negativity into something positive in whatever way they’d like, but unless one has an outside force pushing one to do that, one won’t do it. They’ll be too busy sitting in a depression hole drinking pulverized bits of corn chips out of a crinkly-ass bag and not leaving their bed for days on end, save to relieve themselves (I hope; the bag is empty, there is no need to refill it!). Humans, all lifeforms really, just aren’t productive when they’re depressed.

So how do we cure depression? We don’t. The way I see it, depression is not so much a curable condition as it is a repeated pattern of feeling not great. Depression is not a physical nor a permanent malady, it’s a cycle. It does not need a physical cure, it just needs to be broken. So the question becomes, then, how do we make the bad feelings go away so we can resume humaning at full capacity?

A myriad of options are available. You can consult the psychotherapy industry… which is idiotically expensive and doesn’t work half the time. You could also ask the psychiatry industry for flavorless candies… which, especially in the case of SSRIs, don’t work much better than placebo sugar pills and are also idiotically expensive. Sensing a pattern here? Anyhow, if you’re the adventurous type you could always seek out a powwow with a psychedelic shaman… which would involve the tiresome (but possible) task of finding a practicing psychedelic shaman; this method works but is largely frowned upon by the ones who think they’re in control of our world because… well… because it’s not idiotically expensive works.

Or you could get high by running, by getting your blood pumping and forcing your body to wake up and activate. Clear out all the toxic nonsense that’s polluting you and leave it flattened to the road behind you. Strive for that runner’s high, it’s the best feeling in the world and it’s free. Ironically enough, the bodily system the runner’s high operates through is called the endocannabinoid system, which the same bodily system that facilitates the high of smoking cannabis. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Before going any further, you need to experience the runner’s high for yourself so you have some semblance of an idea of what I’m on about. Go outside and run for… let’s say five minutes. Push as hard as you can, really kill it for five quick minutes. Go get high and come back. Don’t worry, I’ll be here waiting for you. Go.

The Body

SO! You just went for your first run. You got your blood pumping and boy are you high right now. That’s fantastic, great job! But be honest with me: everything kind of hurts, doesn’t it? At the very least your legs are feeling it, and chances are you’re still trying to catch your breath, too. Guess what; none of this will change for the next five to ninety minutes, and that’s fine – for now – but this kind of extended recovery time isn’t sustainable, surely it can’t be like this after every run… can it?

Yes, actually, it can be like that after every run… if you only run when you’re so depressed you can’t move, that is. See, overcoming depression is great and all, but it’s not the only reason you should be running. You’ve gotta be healthy, you have to take care of your body so your body can take care of you. Running will help you with that.

When you run, you’re primarily working your cardiovascular system – in less jargony terms, you’re working your heart! While you’re out there beating feet, you’re breathing in tons of oxygen which makes your heart beat faster and pump blood harder throughout your body. Your heart, like the rest of your body, is a muscle in the sense that the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. To analogize, which is more likely to start: a car that gets driven every day, or a car that sits in the garage for months at a time without being so much as turned on?

Your heart isn’t the only thing you’ll strengthen by habitually running; you’ll strengthen your lungs, too, you’ll teach them to function on a more intense level. You’ll also improve your brain – you’ll gain focus, you’ll be able to handle stress better, you’ll sleep better, and your overall mood will be better. As for the rest of the body, you’ll burn all the calories, your legs will be solid as tree trunks, and you’ll be toner than face lotion. You’ll be a healthier human overall.

Another perhaps less obvious benefit is self-control. This falls into the realm of the mind as well, as running is as much a physical sport as it is a mental sport. While it’s your feet hitting the pavement, it’s you telling your feet to keep going. It’s you blocking out the pain, the stress, the exhaustion, the little voices nagging you to stop – it all starts inside your head. Through running you automatically condition your brain to push through stress and achieve your goal, even if your goal is as simple as running up a small hill. You will automatically learn that it is better to not stop until you are done, an invaluable lesson which one cannot learn from simply reading a book, no matter how incredible this book is… I-I mean, no matter how incredible that book is. The hypothetical one. Uh.

One day, you will realize the only limits holding you back are the ones you set inside your head. One day, you will realize it feels fucking great to get out there and work your hairless ape body. On that day, the fun begins.

You will also probably come to the point where you realize your uber-nutritious diet of hot pockets and other microwaveable delectables isn’t as digestible as you once thought it was. You can be running and working out constantly, looking big and feeling great, but as soon as you sit down and eat that processed whatever it is the supermarket claims is real food, those feelings will slip away. This is another bodily benefit to running – you will want, nay, you’ll feel the need to improve your diet for it. You need energy from good, natural, healthy foods to properly fuel a runner’s body – fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, fresh meat singed on cast iron cookware over a fire, not BHT-enriched garbage pseudo-food that would not look nor even taste half as appetizing if it wasn’t loaded with artificial preservatives, food coloring, and sugars and their substitutes. Healthy foods make for a healthy body, which makes for a positive mindstate, which makes for a happy and full life. You can bet on that.

But honestly, you can read– wait, how could I forget? As you continue to run, you’ll pick up another healthy habit: stretching! You know, bending and pulling on your various limbs so you might feel that intoxicating burn reverberate through the fibers of your being. There are specific stretches you can do to optimize the activity, but the important part is that you stretch out in the first place. You know your body best, and you’ll find that when your muscles are primed before use, they’ll work much better. When you blow a balloon up you stretch it out before you inflate it, right? Same idea; before you expand and contract your leg muscles you should stretch them out, loosen them up. Do some deep breathing exercises for your lungs too, so you can play with more oxygen. Oxygen is energy, fuel for the furnace that burns inside your heart and propels your body forward.

But honestly, you can read all this online. I certainly did, not trying to bullshit you here. I feel like the majority of this subchapter is unnecessary, the things it says are so obvious; you’re using and properly caring for your body, of course it’s going to get stronger. As humans, we’re not piloting a flesh machine that inevitably breaks down over time; we’re merely a living organism made up of smaller living organisms, and the better we’re cared for, the better we operate. Don’t get me wrong though, your body certainly can break down over time, but that usually won’t happen unless you either do a terrible job taking care of yourself or you human around for so long your body doesn’t want to body anymore, in which case you should give it a rest already anyway.

The body is fluid, it is constantly moving and working whether you’re aware of it or not. So, you have two choices: work with it by exercising it, or work against it by letting it go stagnant. Regardless of what you do, one day your body will shut down on you; since you went through the effort of not only buying this book but reading it too, you may as well take the third step and do what I’ve made it say: work with your body.

The Soul

At last we come to the soul. The spirit, the pure potential energy coursing through your body, through the Universe itself; the last pillar of Existence. Consciousness, inner space, the final frontier, that strange and less tangible side of life which largely goes ignored by most American-flavored humans mainly because they’re oblivious to it. In my opinion, American culture is extremely disconnected from the spiritual – everyone seems to be stuck in the material, the physical, while they remain mostly, if not totally unaware of the immaterial, the metaphysical. Admittedly it’s kind of funny for me, being a shaman and all. I’m in the know, so to speak. I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on behind the scenes, but when something is happening back there, I’m acutely aware of it; meanwhile, everyone around me is blissfully unaware of spirit to the point where they’re stuck repeating their same old mistakes over and over thinking they’re doing their best in an unrelenting and merciless self-fulfilling propalactic of self-destruction I have to sit by and watch them suffer through because no matter how many hints I drop, no matter how many times they don’t take the advice they sometimes have to ask me for, they stay stubbornly stuck in their ways… okay, so it’s really not that funny. It’s a big problem for a whole bunch of reasons.

Humans often get trapped in the physical world where specific things lead to other specific things and everything works in a defined system, it’s mind-numbing. As a species, we’ve allowed ourselves to become creatures of habit – some of us hardly even think as we go through the motions day after unending day to serve a system we ourselves created supposedly for the benefit of all mankind. Nothing for nothing, the old system has become redundant. It is outdated, it is a problem, and you know how we deal with problems, don’t you? Oh yeah: we run from them, figure out how to solve them, and then go about solving them.

Alas, where do we run when the problem is all around us? That’s just the thing: the problem isn’t all around us, we just believe it is. Society, the system, the man – it’s all in our heads. No matter what games we may play, at our cores we are nothing more than hairless monkeys who live on a huge rock which circles a massive ball of explosions as they blast through space together, and there’s nothing anyone can do or say to change that. Lon Qus launched a sportscar into orbit and guess what; he’s still a hairless monkey. A badass rich hairless monkey who once sold flamethrowers to the masses, sure, but a hairless monkey nonetheless.

The point is, we can do whatever the hell we want in life! It may seem like we can’t, and sometimes it feels like we can’t, but that feeling is all in our heads too. Want proof? Check this out.

When you run, I bet you stick to the roads. Your town is nothing more than a system of roads crisscrossing through a defined geographic area and when you  run, you stick to those roads like a fly on flypaper. You probably only have a single route planned out too, you scamp!

Or, if you’re the adventurous type, let’s say you trailrun. The trails are strict, skinny little pathways that wind through the forest and you stick to them like a branch broken off a tree. It would be weird if you didn’t, right? Where else could you possibly run other than the paths carved out by those who came before you?

Well… pretty much fuckin’ anywhere else. It might be easier to stick to the roads and the trails, but… why take the easy route? Since when was the path more traveled ever the one worth going down?

The next time you go out for a run, do not plan your route. Just go out your door, start down your street, and go wherever the heck you want. That intersection you usually turn left at? Turn right. Go up that hill that’s been stalking you in your dreams. Go down that old dirt road everybody avoids because they think it’s haunted by demon wolves or ghosts or the KKK or whatever the hell. Get off the trailways and blaze your own imaginary path through the forest, one nobody else can follow unless they’re running right behind you. Challenge yourself to look at the whole piece of paper rather than focusing on the lines drawn there by others.

When you do as I say, you’ll understand what freedom is. What spirit is. You’ll experience what it is to have a soul, you’ll feel the metaphysical energy coursing through your body. You’ll understand what it means to be alive. You will create your own running path, become your own tour guide through the beautiful little corner of Existence you call home. You might even find some stuff you’ve never seen before; in running through my local forests, I’ve found dilapidated stone house foundations, abandoned mines, veins of quartz bigger than my arm – all because I blazed my own trail.

You’ll never know what’s out there waiting for you until you look for it, just like you’ll never know what you’re capable of achieving until you try for it. Connecting to spirit, connecting to your true self, becoming one with I – this is why you should run.

The Benefits

Allow me to summarize the benefits for you now that you’ve read through them all:

– For the mind, we run to get high so we can function.

– For the body, we run to be healthy so we can continue to function.

– For the soul, we run to be free so we want to continue to function.

Through running, we automatically upgrade our own existence to help us progress along the journey that is our life, and we don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s already happened. Magic.

All right, my human. Now you know why you should run. Maybe you even want to run, too. That’s great. It is time now to learn how.

This has been chapter 2 of the book Running: How To Torture Yourself And Enjoy It |The Unvictimized Edition|. Here is everything you need to know about it:

Running: How To Torture Yourself And Enjoy It
|The Unvictimized Edition|

I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.

The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page, too. Here’s that.

If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~

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