Sunday, February 17, 2013

The joy of running

The snow had narrowed the sidewalk that leads home from work, slowing me down as I was rushing to get back to my condo. It was a Friday, and apparently we were having the worst snowstorm since 2008. My sense of urgency was so I could put on those winter runners and go play in the snow in the fading daylight -- too late, as usual, this time of the year.

In front of me, a woman and her two kids were struggling down the sidewalk. Rather, she was struggling and her boy was bounding into the snow, running in short bursts then landing with emphasis, the imprint of his tiny boots barely making an impression on the mound of snow.

Earlier that day, while winding down, I had come across a piece in the Guardian titled Why we love to run. It's an absolutely gorgeous piece but several excerpts resonated with me:

Running brings us joy. Watch small children when they are excited, at play, and mostly they can't stop running. Back and forth, up and down, in little, pointless circles. I remember, even as an older child, I'd often break into a run when walking along the street, for no reason. There's a great moment in The Catcher in the Rye when Holden Caulfield, caught in the uneasy space between childhood and adulthood, is walking across his school grounds one evening and he suddenly starts to run. "I don't even know what I was running for – I guess I just felt like it," he says.


Racing along out on the trails, or even through the busy streets of a city, splashing through puddles, letting the rain drench us, the wind ruffle us, we begin to sense a faint recollection of that childish joy. Somewhere a primal essence stirs deep within us; this being born not to sit at a desk or read newspapers and drink coffee, but to live a wilder existence. As we run, the layers of responsibility and identity we have gathered in our lives, the father, mother, lawyer, teacher, Manchester United-supporter labels, all fall away, leaving us with the raw human being underneath. It's a rare thing, and it can be confronting. Some of us will stop, almost shocked by ourselves, by how our heart is pumping, by how our mind is racing, struggling with our attempts to leave it behind.

Read the rest here

Running is so seemingly simple, which begs questions like "how can you put out a monthly magazine dedicated to a sport about putting a foot in front of the other." Or how can one write a running blog for seven plus years and still have something to write about thousands of miles later, 1200 posts in. Funnily enough, there's plenty to say.

That's where I am. In those early years of training for marathons, every run had a story, a distance to log, a new challenging workout to master. As the years go on, I haven't found the passion die, but wanting to capture more of the essence of what running is.

So what is it?

Running is a sport for soul searchers, and which each successive movement, we find communion with our true selves. Recently, as I huffed and puffed my way through a dark path, I watched steam rise from my mouth, impeding the view of the icy trail. I worked hard to stay upright through the patches of black ice and through that danger, and working past the pain, I felt what I've always gotten from the run. To carve out time back for myself. To feel at once lonely and powerful. To reconnect with something so innate in our modern lives. I love the phrase poetry in motion, and you can capture it more often than not if you go out enough, run enough. In simple words: Moving, Speeding, Sprinting, Striding, Gasping, Running, Living.


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