I struggled over this one all day. Many words mean something to me when it comes to running, but it really boiled down to two, and at the end of the day I decided they were equally important to me.
Control and Release
If I can control nothing else in my life, I can control the run.
I make the decision to get out there, and all the subsequent decisions about what happens once I'm off. I control my speed, distance, form, and breathing. I control the route, my music (or lack of) and my companions (or lack of). If I'm having a bad day that seems out of hand, I know that I can reign it all in once I hit the pavement. If I'm having a good day, I get an even bigger sense of satisfaction that everything is in check.
On the other hand there is release.
Running means a release of endorphins! When I'm feeling tired or bummed out there's no better way to scrounge up some energy and elevate my mood.
Running causes in me a release of emotion. I can't think of a race I participated in (or watched) where I didn't tear up or flat out cry. Whether it's because I'm moved by the spectacle, I beat my best time, or because no one was there to watch me, running brings about an involuntary emotional reaction. Catharsis.
I release myself from technology! Ipod excluded :) My run is a dedicated block of time where I am not checking email or skimming Facebook. My senses are not being assaulted by television commercials or car alarms. I am not reachable by phone or text. Just me and my feet taking in what is real and natural in my surroundings.
It means a release of my worries, anxiety, sadness, and anger—I just let them go. To me running is a great form of therapy. I can release all my thoughts and then work them out, stride by stride. I can measure my progress in both miles and revelations.
Yes, these words are opposites, but I'm inclined to consider them complementary. For me, running with only one and not the other wouldn't be running at all.