The Reasons I Run is a can-do story which offers the reader a rare glimpse inside the mind of a competitive runner. Dennis Gravitt was an average athlete whose internal drive compelled him to press the boundaries of his physical limitations. As the story unfolds, Dennis transforms himself from a middle-of-the-pack athlete into a competitive runner. He would eventually enjoy a career spanning 28 years. This is a memoir which chronicles his journey, both inner and outer, with all of its ups and downs—the victories and the disappointments. Dennis also shares the lessons learned, candidly examines some of running’s modern paradigms, and challenges others to step beyond the constraints of their own comfort zones.
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Introduction: Experts say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So here goes: my name is Dennis Gravitt, and I am a recovering competitive runner. The spring of 2008 would’ve marked my thirtieth year. Yes, you heard right—thirty years. I’d like to get something straight before we go any further. When I use the term “competitive runner,” I’m not referring to the “I’ll-run-if-I-can-fit-it-into-my-schedule” type. I’m also not describing a methodical plodder who logs a few daily miles. What I’m talking about here is an all-out, balls-to-the-wall, bona fide “my-day-won’t-be-complete-until-I’ve-had-my-fix” type of runner. Understand? Now, any person who runs for that many years eventually gets injured. The good Lord knows I’ve had my share, and then some. On more than one occasion, as you’ll discover, the injury lasted for over two years. With each injury I’d wonder if it just might be “the big one,” the career-ender. But the human body has this incredible resiliency, and right about the time I’d given up all hope of ever running again, the problem would resolve itself. Perhaps what’s most remarkable is that, after each injury, I was able to claw my way back to the top of my game. This time, however, I believe it’s different—the end of the line. Don’t get me wrong here. I haven’t thrown in the towel; well, not quite yet anyway. I first noticed this injury back in the summer of 2007. Within a few short months of its onset, I found myself on the sidelines, an unwilling spectator. In the years since, I’ve had two surgeries, and several rounds of physical therapy, and still the problem refuses to be reconciled. I keep looking for that miracle cure, to find something to cling to, to give me hope that I’ll be able to run as I used to do. But, after four and a half years of frustration, the idea of a comeback is probably remote at best. So I’ve decided that maybe I should try a different approach. Somewhere along the line, I read that journaling can be a useful tool in helping a person work through his problems. I reckoned that this is as good a time as any to write about those running years and maybe see for myself whether this journaling stuff really helps. For those of you with an inclination to pick up my story, I offer a few words of caution. If you’re someone who is easily offended, reading my story might not be for you. But if you decide to press on despite the warning, then how you react to the material is your problem and not mine. In the words of my wife Lisa, “Put on your big boy pants and deal with it!” This entire book is based on my personal experiences. And the story within these pages is told from my perspective, the way I saw things as they happened. Folks might think that writing such a book is a bit narcissistic, but that’s okay. Because I wrote it for me, remember? It’s for my own therapeutic benefit. But, if I pull this off the way it’s intended, perhaps you too will get a sense of the thrill that this competitive athlete received from pushing his body to its physiological limits and crossing over that threshold of pain. And who knows? Maybe reading this book will kindle a bit of that passion deep within your own competitive spirit.
The author lives in a southern suburb of Chicago, with his wife and family. By day, he is a Financial Planner, channeling his running philosophy into a coaching model that empowers others to achieve their financial goals. At night, he dreams about running.