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My boyfriend’s former primary care doctor also happened to be a runner. This was great because the doctor eased his mind about a lot of running related concerns and misconceptions. As someone who gets annoying heart palpitations now and then, he worried running would make them worse. He self-diagnosed himself with a problem and confined his pace to slower-than-an-old-doggie-walking. This doctor ran a series of tests and at last eased his mind that while annoying, occasional heart palpitations happen to a lot of people. The doc even applauded boyfriend’s long runs and encouraged him to keep going.

The new year brought different insurance and different doctors. After our 16.5-mile run a few weeks ago, a new unpleasant sensation said Wuzzup and this time he wisely refrained from Internet diagnostics.

Where the running doctor’s office felt like a place for sick people, new doctor’s office is clean and comfortable. Old Dr.’s office smelled like fried food. New office has a faint lemony tea smell. New doctor was included on a list of top heart doctors in the country. BF’s lucky to have access to him, but this doctor is not a runner. When BF explained that the feeling was coming after a 16-mile run, the doctor’s response was unexpected.

Why’d you run so far? 

BF laughed and tried to explain, but it’s hard to explain building mileage to someone who doesn’t run, especially when you’re not chasing Olympic dreams or even registered for a marathon. The question often sounds more like a judgement than curiosity. Don’t you have anything better to do?

My brother-in-law asked a similar question a few years ago. When I didn’t see his eyes glaze over I actually tried to describe how running makes me feel during, right after and all pretty much all the time. He trained for and ran the Philly marathon the following year. The experience was so grueling he stopped running right after. His pace and goals were so intense I think he burned out.

The question is easier to answer when taken on a run-by-run basis. I ran 9 miles today because it’s beautiful out and I didn’t want to stop but I’m slow and only had time for 9. I ran 5 miles yesterday because I was sore and stiff and wanted to loosen up. Hopefully soon I’ll run 18 miles because I can.

Why not?

BF’s fine, by the way.