Running is Good for the Heart…

I originally picked up running because I wanted to lose weight  (I was 17 years old and 300 lbs when I first started running 11 years ago, but that’s a story for another time) and improve my health in the process.   I knew running would be good for my cardiovascular system, strengthening my heart as I pushed my body.   What I didn’t realize is that running is not only good for the (physical) heart, but it’s good for the (spiritual/emotional) heart too.

After reading Christopher McDougall’s  Born To Run (a must read in my opinion) last month I gained a new appreciation for the fact that we (likely) evolved for distance running.  I also gained a new appreciation for the kindness and camaraderie of  runners.  His descriptions of the Tarahumaran culture (whether embellished or not) were just plain inspiring.  I realized reading it that I’d felt that same sense of community around me when I ran the Portland Marathon in 2011, but I was so focused on it being my first marathon that I didn’t get the opportunity to really share in it. It was there, but I was too in my head to participate.  At the Yakima River Canyon Marathon i felt it and shared in it, encouraging those who I passed and those who passed me and sharing some High-5s at the finish line.

I read 2 stories in the last week or so that really touched my heart and made me proud to call myself a runner:

El Caballo Blanco, Micah True, running

Micah True "El Caballo Blanco"


1st is the sad story of Micah True aka El Caballo Blanco, who passed away doing what he loved on March 27th.  He went out for a run in Gila, New Mexico and never came back. That part of the story is just plain sad, not much good to be seen there other than that he was following his bliss when his time came.  What was amazing is how many people dropped everything to go help in the search.  He’d touched so many lives (including mine, if only through Born To Run) and there was never a question for these people whether to help or not.  Christopher McDougall’s article on the search made me tear up a couple times.  You will be missed Caballo, but your spirit lives on in us all.

Tyrell Heaton crossing the 2012 Boston Marathon Finish Line

Jeff Fyfe and Blake Whitney help Tyrell Heaton cross the finish line.
(c) David L. Ryan/Boston Globe 


2nd was a moment of Monday’s 2012 Boston Marathon that was brought to my attention on r/running in a post by happy_go_lucky .  A runner (Tyrell Heaton of Virginia) crossed the 42km mark, about 100 meters from the finish line, and couldn’t keep going.  I don’t know the whole story of what injury stopped him, but he couldn’t put his weight on his left leg.  He’s just standing there, 100 meters from his goal, and he can’t do anything about it, it’s too painful to even walk.  Some folks ran by, probably assuming he was going to be able to rally and finish himself, but eventually one guy stopped to help him since he saw him wobbling on one leg. Another stopped, they tried to convince him that he could pull it off but he was in too much pain when he tried to put weight on the leg.  After some (but not too much) debate, the 2 good Samaritans supported him and half carried, half let him hop to the finish line.  These two guys put aside PRs, competitiveness, and finishing strong at the biggest Marathon there is, to take care of a complete stranger in pain. These were folks who had ran a difficult marathon on a hot day (80+ degrees) and they found the compassion in their hearts to see Heaton make it across that finish line.  I hope my years of running have made my heart strong enough to offer the same help if I’m ever faced with the same situation.


2 responses to “Running is Good for the Heart…

  1. Running stories never fail to choke me up! Have you seen McDougall’s Ted talk? It’s really fab. I haven’t read his book, and I assume he covers a lot of the same content, but it’s still a great watch!

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