Tale of 9 Runs: Men Cry, Go Figure

Sometimes when I run, I cry.

Somewhere with the intermix of powerful (for me) music, the physical exertion, and the realization that I'm doing things I never believed I could; my body wells up with an awesome force of energy and emotion that propels me forward in running and generates tears.  It doesn't happen every time I run, but regularly enough, usually when I take that mental step back to look at this arc of my life and what I'm doing:  running, and enjoying it.  It happened most recently when I breached 10 miles in my training without feeling it.  By that, I mean, getting from 9 to 10 miles didn't feel like a Herculean effort--there wasn't some imaginary bar that made it harder--I did rather well in terms of time and energy.

Crying with physical exertion is not something entirely new for me; I don't know about others.  In my younger days of sports in middle and high school, I cried a lot.  In the aftermath of practice (usually football, but also baseball; neither sport I chose to play but was propelled into), I would need to cry.  Back then, at least how I processed it was as a response to playing the sport that I didn't care to play, the pressure to enjoy something that I detested, or being enveloped in a world that was unequivocally foreign to me.  It all coalesced into this great outpouring after the physical and social exhaustion.  So, I cried.  Tears flowed and a mixture of anger, frustration, and sadness overwhelmed me.    

But these tears are different.  This emotional state feels to be on the opposite spectrum of that what I felt when I was 10-15 years of age.  The emotion is a mixture of joy, elation, empowerment, and warmth.  It's an inner sense of pride.  I know my highs and lows of my life; I know things I perceived as real and unlikely.  In the very act of running increasingly long distances, each run, each mile, each step is a slap in the face of the ways I used to understand my body, my abilities, and my self. It's when I'm struck by this, I'm simultaneously struck by an overwhelming sense of inspiration and hope for all humans and their capacity to change, adapt, improve, and endure in their lives.  It's in these moments that I'm truly humbled by all people's accomplishments; those who set off and change their lives in a profound way.  I'm moved by those too who must fight inner and outer demons daily and do not/cannot change.

Crying Is Good

These are amazing internal moments in my life and that only leaves me thinking.  Yet "real men" (whatever that means) don't cry or if they do, they don't embrace it and distance themselves from it as quickly as possible.  I find that ideology problematic. They provide no room for vulnerability; which as Brene Brown says is more harmful to our inner (and most likely, outer) lives.   I tend to agree here in that what I've found more and more throughout my life is recognizing and embracing my vulnerability has been a rewarding and relieving experience much more than hiding it or pretending it doesn't exist.  That men, in general, are discouraged to embrace this is disconcerting (and makes me wonder about how and why men perpetuate violence).  I wish there was more space in our culture to allow for males to be more enveloped by emotions; I know I've certainly benefited from it.  

So should you ever see me running with tears streaming down my face.  It is not agony.  It's inspiring awe.  It is not sadness.  It's pure happiness.   It's not weakness.  It's amazing strength.  But even if my crying weren't those positive things, it would still be ok.

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