Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Strangeness of Running


Strange things happened on my run last night. The first was that I went for a run at all. I had pushed it off through the day and, after having too big of a meal of steak, sweet potato fries, and green beans, reluctantly headed out for a short one. Down the street, I felt as pukey and bloated as you would expect. The desire to stop was pretty powerful.

A few weeks back I figured out my three steps for running:

  1. Get out the door
  2. Run
  3. Don't stop

I put all three to work last night as I burped and farted through the first mile and a half. On top of that, my ankle was still not right, but there I was taking another step and another. I climbed Skytop and kept going. I went long. Seven miles later I was back home but not wanting to stop.

(I did stop, however, because my daughters would soon be in bed and I need those kisses goodnight. As reasons to stop running go, that's my best one.)

Running ceased to be work last night. I still sweat and at times I was gasping for air, but it wasn't work in the way that I think most people consider running seven miles would be. It wasn't unpleasant. It wasn't exactly pleasant either. It just was what it was.

And now, half a day later, I'm itching to get back out there and run some more. Like I said, it's all very strange.

I'm not a marathon runner. I'm certainly not an ultra-runner. But lately I've been feeling as though I should append to each those statements the word "yet." Last night, running past the discomfort of an over-filled belly, I found that my body was ready to go on and on. Finding that out wasn't exactly a revelation so much as a reminder of who I can be and how much choice I have in the matter.

I've been working lately to make time for some things. I want to focus on writing poetry writing and I want to move my body more. I want to read novels and books of poetry. I want to be with my family and also be by myself. In order to accommodate these things, other things have had to go. Of late, that has meant that I haven't been writing these essays every day. I miss them so I'll make time for them again. I don't have much room for television and I don't miss it. It's the same with the computer. Half an hour a day (other than writing) is more than enough. How much good can  my twelfth check of Facebook updates be?

As usual (and as I have written about here before) it's a process of balancing, of being aware. The mileage that I run doesn't matter, but the feeling of it is everything. Writing too. I have written some good essays  and some real stinkers, but the feeling of writing (rather than the feeling of having written) is what matters. As I'm writing this, I feel good just pushing my fingers across the keyboard. It's a rhythm of my life very similar to the sound of my bare feet running on the pavement.

Last thing about this: I'm re-reading Christopher McDougall's Born to Run, a book I lent to a friend and told him to mark up. Like me, he keeps seeing the connections between running and writing. And I keep embracing the strangeness of both. Enjoying the editing of a piece for publication and savoring every step of the seventh mile of that run. Step by step, word by word, there is nothing better than to run and write on.