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My Journey to the Marathon (2):
The Runner and the Consumerist Society

It's 10 weeks to go. This week's training included a very enjoyable Trail Run from the Salomon Trail Running League in the San Tumas/Delimara area, and another trial run in the Mistra/Selmun Area, courtesy of Ruben Degiorgio and his group. They were my first experiences in trail running and I must say they were fun. The alternating terrain, magnificent views, and buzzing atmosphere make it impossible for boredom to show its head. I also took part in the 10km Garmin Run organized by Mellieha AC, and obtained a personal best of 41:56. Not much to be surprised about; my last 10km run was 18 months ago, so I was expecting some sign of improvement in a year and a half. Apart from that, I had my usual recovery swim, speed session and tempo run. This morning's 23km long run closed the week off.

During this week's runs, I kept wondering at what has caused the sudden surge in recent years of people taking up running, triathlon and other outdoor sports. Is it only due to health awareness? Or is there something more?

We live in a world where material possessions have become our measure of quality. Society no longer values knowledge, art, music, spiritual well-being and a genuine search for truth, as our ancestors did. Today's consumerist society urges us to seek happiness in the new things we buy: a new sleeky sports car, designer clothes and accessories, the latest smartphone or gaming console.

In all this, I think the runner seeks to be a sign of contradiction. By baring himself of all that is unnecessary and redundant, he seeks his happiness in man's most primitive and ancient way of play: running. The true runner understands that real happiness and well-being, come from within and not from the peripherals surrounding us on the outside. In a time where our fast-paced lives and materialistic urges have taken over our sense of being, the runner seeks a time where he can break the daily chains enslaving us, and just BE.

In these last three years, the financial crises and its effects has made more people realize that the new sleeky sports car is devalued the minute you sign the log-book; the designer clothes and accessories which cost pennies to the manufacturer but hundreds of euro for you to buy, get out-of-fashion by next year; and the latest smartphone or gaming console which you were so proud of, will get out-dated in a few months. They have no real value.

More people are realizing that true happiness, happiness which you can recall years later, a happiness that can really make you feel alive, comes not from the things which you buy with money. But it comes from the things which you can only reach through commitment, dedication, determination and sacrifice. From things which are not paid for in cash, but are paid for in sweat.

I hope that running the Marathon is one of these things.

In the meantime, I take this opportunity to wish all readers a happy Christmas...and remember, the true happiness of Christmas comes not from gifts and shopping. There's something more to Christmas as well.

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