Nov 22, 2019
It’s very common for a runner to be questioned about why they choose to run. Willingly putting yourself through pain, doesn’t quite make sense to most people. Not only that, runners run just to run. There is no ball to chase as part of a captivating sports’ game, and there isn’t a ferocious wild animal (hopefully) to outrun. Runners claim that they just like to run. Do you believe us?
Comfort has become king, especially so in much of middle-America. Think about all the ways in which businesses thrive because they are helping the population be at ease. Drive-thru restaurants, food delivery apps, big cars and massive freeways, online shopping, freezer meals and more.
Innovation is fantastic, and without it you couldn’t read this article, but it can be one-dimensional in its influence. Few technologies, inventions, or new businesses are encouraging us to move our bodies. Running, even in much of the exercise and sports world, is looked at as a punishment.
How many of us run to make-up for a cheat meal? How many children, teenagers, and student athletes have developed a negative relationship with running because it was used as a punishment in their sport. The answer? Probably most of us, at least at some point in our lives.
Of course, it doesn’t need to be this way. If you are a runner today, you’ve likely found a certain appreciate for how it makes you feel. Running isn’t easy, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. It can be a celebration of your body and its ability to move—an act of gratitude and pride.
Billy Yang believes that doing things that cause us discomfort is in our DNA. By now you’ve probably heard some form of the idea that we haven’t evolved much as a race since we were hunters and gatherers. We were coded to be able to withstand much discomfort just to survive. Since then, the rate of technology has far surpassed our DNA’s ability to morph into lazy creatures. We just aren’t programmed to sit around.
Some runners take this to the extreme, and Billy Yang is one of them. 100-mile races, where a runner covers that extreme distance in around 24 hours, probably isn’t something our hunter-gatherer ancestors did. However, these feats show just how able our bodies really are and the determination that we have as a race as we tap into our inherent selves.
For Billy, running also began as a punitive exercise, but over the years it has developed into a way of life. Not only has Billy run multiple 100-mile races, he now creates documentaries of marathoners, trail-runners, and others.
Once you change your mindset, it’s hard to stop running. You can’t imagine going a day or two without moving your body. And whatever type of runner you are, there is a home for you. The community is large and ever-growing. Humanity is finding its running roots.
At the end of every Running for Real podcast, we ask our interviewee to answer the “Final Four,” a set of four questions that help us get to know them a little better. One of those questions is, “What is one piece of advice for life?”
Today Billy told us, “If there is something out there [you want to do] and you’ve been holding off, what have you been waiting for?” We have this one life to live, and as far as we know, there is no redo. We can show gratitude for this opportunity by going after something we’ve always wanted.
Whatever it is that you want to do, really try to picture yourself doing it. The thing that has been stopping you from doing what you most want to do, is just a temporary discomfort. Whether that’s nervousness about going against a social norm, physical strain that accompanies a running goal, or giving up any other chronic or debilitating comfort of life.
Your body is meant to move, and it’s built to find joy in discomfort. Don’t be afraid to use it as it has been made to be used.
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Thank you to Billy, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.