Whether with a Smile or a Wave, ‘I Run Loving’

02/09/2018 - 18:29

By Mary Marcia Brown

keychain.jpgOnce again, we are swimming in a sea of winged cupids, arrows, and red and pink hearts. It is the month of love, or so we have deemed it. At least, it is the month where the word “love” is used most, to describe what Merriam Webster refers to as “attraction based on sexual desire, or affection and tenderness felt by lovers.”

Yet love is so vast, that it simply cannot be contained by a single definition. These days, defintions of “love” like Webster’s “an unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” and Eckhart Tolle’s “a state of being” and “recognizing yourself in another” tend to resonate most with me.

I recently reached into a desk drawer to retrieve my MP3 player before a morning run. A colorful keychain sitting in the back of the drawer drew my attention. “I Love Running” were the words that appeared across the tightly woven fabric – “love” being replace by a simple red heart. Quickly, quietly, and with little thought, I absorbed the words as truth before closing the drawer, placing the earbuds in my ears, and starting my morning miles.

I have certainly uttered the words countless times, and others have likely said the same. “I love running.” It seems easy to love something that makes us feel good, and running certainly does that. The sport we love elicits an abundance of endorphins in the brain that studies show attach themselves to the same area of the brain that is activated when people are involved in romantic love affairs.

A parallel could therefore easily be drawn between “running” and Merriam Webster’s “loving” when more selfishly (or at least, narrowly) defined as that “affection and tenderness felt by lovers.” But what about that “unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another” or that broader “state of being” and “recognizing yourself in another”?

I ran around the lake and passed fellow runners, in their zone, logging their morning miles. Many of them probably love running – moving at their own pace, on their own chosen route, listening to their own music, while looking straight ahead toward their own day’s goal that will help them produce their own endorphins so they can enjoy their own ‘feel good’ emotions of lovers’ “love”. Dozens of runners passed by one another while circumnavigating the lake. Sadly, few seemed to really see one another, much less extend an expression of concern for one another’s good.

I thought about the key chain sitting in the back corner of my desk drawer. Yes, I love running, but I want to do more than “love running”. I want to express kindness to fellow runners as our paths meet. I want to extend a smile, or a wave, or a “good morning” to let them know that I see them. I want to wish them safe and strong miles so they know that I care not only about my run, but about their run, too. In short, not only do I want to “love running”, more deeply, I want to “run loving.”

As you lace up for your February ‘month of love’ miles, may you enjoy each and every stride while also recognizing the similar strides of fellow runners. While you race in red and pink, dodging or hoping for Cupid’s arrow, may you not only be able to say, “I love running” but may you also find joy in saying, “I run loving.”

(Mary Marcia is a runner and fitness professional navigating her way through the unpredictable terrain of life. She is president of the non-profit organization, the PHEEL GOOD Foundation, and she can be reached at

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