I Think, I Ran

A few months ago a couple of friends tricked me into running with them. Tricked. It’s more of a jog, really, they said. Hucksters.

I am many things, but athletic is not one of them and the times I was forced to run in gym class were some of the darkest, most tortured, most terrible twenty minutes of my life. Zero exaggeration, like, seriously. But I took the bait from my friends. I ran. I lived. I even found that I liked it….enough. Let me be clear: I did not like feeling as if my heart were galloping alongside me; I did not like thinking about what I suspected I looked like galumphing along on the trail, slightly hunched over, red faced while my friends and others we passed careened effortlessly along like majestic Gazelles. Zero exaggeration, like, seriously. I liked that I did it. I liked that I had challenged myself, that I had pushed myself to do something I considered hard. I really liked the way I felt—strong.

I could do this once a week, I thought. I surprised myself a little, not just for the intention, but because I am a classic step-skipper. I would show up to basecamp on Everest and be all “We summit tomorrow, right? All good? I brought trail mix guys!”

Turns out there are some perks the more spins you get around this planet. Wisdom is one, if you’re lucky enough to absorb it. Self-awareness is another, if you are brave enough to receive it. I suspected there was more to this running thing than trying not to die while doing it.

That was five months ago. Since then, once a week, usually Friday, I head to the trails that weave their way through the miles of conservation land not far from my house. I go as early in the morning as I can when the air is still a little bit cool and the light is just starting to dapple the trees, which are now lush and green. I’ve only walked twenty or thirty feet from the small parking lot into the beginning of the trail, but it feels like crossing a threshold into another universe. Everything is hushed except for the curious calls of birds and the rustle of unseen critters.

I walk for a bit to warm up and then, I run. I listen to music, but I key into the rhythm of my breathing. It becomes its own kind of wordless mantra. When I hit an incline, I keep my eyes focused on the ground. I know if I lift them to the slope, I’ll want to stop. For me there is just the next little bit and the next little bit after that, a metaphor for life metered out with each dig of my heels.

I notice what happens is that every few minutes I will desperately want to stop. To override the running “kill” switch you’ve got to give your mind something else to chew on. But here’s what I’ve found most surprising: the stand-by churn, the stuff about work or relationships or that shamefaced thing I did when I was a stupid 19-year old (ok, stupid 34-year old, ok, last week) gets no traction. As quickly as they enter the frame they fall away; they’re too heavy, too sticky. Those things–the spin and whir and crank in the factory of real life– have no place in the beautiful, serene, Serengeti of time out of time you’ve created through your measured, reliable movement.

Zero exaggeration, like, seriously.

My mind really does just want to be here now, as Ram Dass writes. It is wildly liberating. It’s as if my mind were thrust into one of those Hazmat showers, the ones that sandblast your skin clean off and all you’re left with are smooth, shiny surfaces.

I think about my breathing.

I think about the woods.

I think about the light, the crunch of dirt and stone under my feet.

I think about how lucky I am that my lungs, my legs, my body does this thing.

And then before too long I’m walking again, heading out of the woods back into the world with all its noise and chaos and a little bit of silence tucked into my back pocket.

286 thoughts on “I Think, I Ran

  1. This is so beautiful, I felt like I was running a long with you. and I too, HATE running but I challenged myself also once a week to run as long as my body let me and its amazing to watch your body transform into something you thought you didn’t have inside you. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so, so much and congrats on getting into the whole running thing! Once you get in that habit, it’s actually hard not to go..even when you’re expert at talking yourself out of it. Keep it up and enjoy! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a 72 year old lady I found I could run alongside my sons two dogs on the beach, and survived feeling great, exhilarating ,shame I don’t live near a beach , I was visiting family for the weekend ,

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Im going to the park to collect conkers, I might try to run,hop and skip, go steady don’t get to ambitious ,and risk dislocating a hip. I will set a fair pace feel the wind in my hair, and maybe my whiskers as well. I may take up jogging,I feel real incensed ,I may try a Marathon as well. Maybe I’ll just gather conkers to keep all the spiders away, place them in all my house corners ,that will be a good job ive done well,

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I was just getting my mind ready to start working out.
    And yea, ‘like seriously’, Running was NEVER on my mind ( maybe the non majestic Gazelle thing was somewhere hidden subconsiously!) But your post just ignited some strange enthusiasm and i seem to want to start Running. Yea, i think i can run 😀
    Well written!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I could relate to every word of this post. Running for me is like a meditation. Its where i find an order to my thoughts. A parallel universe to seek solace in. Yes running can be exhaustive and one look at the incline can crash you to your senses but its the stinging pain and the surge of strength in your calves you feel keeps you going. Thank you so much for such a poignant share!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for taking time to read, I really appreciate it. I’m not great at seeing the up side of things all the time, but when I can push past my own negative judgments or feelings I tend to discover something pretty great. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m not a runner, but the rest of my family are. Personally, I cycle, but I still find it hard and the entire way I’m just telling myself to stop and turn round but once I’ve done it I just say to myself, “I’m glad I’ve done that.”
    It’s great that someone can actually put it into words like you did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Chloe! It sounds like cycling is your jam and that’s really awesome that it fuels you the way it does. And you’re right, when you’re done there is such a tremendous feeling of pride and accomplishment for what you’ve been able to do. Awesome!

      Like

  7. I recently became a forced runner. I am very athletic, but have always wisely chosen sports with quick sprints (softball, tennis,etc). I noticed after several rubs I was starting to enjoy the runnibg time. I still can’t run for long, but it feels great just getting out by myself and pounding pavement for a bit.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Inspiring. I am not a runner either, but you have inspired me to be. Think I’ll take up swimming and cycling as well. As a new blogger, I could definitely use some writing tips from you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I may be old and past my prime
    And my knees not quite athletic
    But I find im pretty nimble still
    Don’t consider myself pathetic.
    I dance to Blondie quite a bit
    When she joins me in my kitchen
    I pretend that I am young again
    Full of life, bewitching.
    I’m widowed now and on my own
    But I know he watches me dance
    Does he still love me now I’m old
    My love,my first Romance,

    Liked by 1 person

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