When I saw that the Running Club Blog was starting up again, I began mentally drafting this essay in my head. The words you are reading have been bent into many different shapes in order to try and explain running from my perspective. Running is a difficult thing to understand because my relationship with it so complex, so I’m going to talk about the little details that make running what it is before I try to make any broader claims.
Let’s start with the moment my foot hits the road.
The sense of contact is immediate and solid. With thin, light shoes, I can feel the road’s every detail. Each stone and crack pushes in a different direction, trying to shove the intruding foot away from its surface and back into the air. Pounding pavements is like hitting a punching bag to me: cathartic and innately violent.
Next thing that I notice is my breathing.
It comes into focus gradually because each breath feels better than the one before and its effects become more apparent. There’s a big difference between the breathing I do when I’m doing any other physical activity and the breathing I do when I’m running. Each breath passes in and out like a tide that pulls something deep within me out and back, up and down. It feels like I’m a machine that’s designed to stride forward forever to places I won’t comprehend until I get there. The future becomes more palpable with every step.
After a couple miles, I begin to ease up and relax. The dense fog that tends to sit inside my head leaves a clear sky open for a little bit. I laugh easier, my outlook is sunnier, and life’s inane purposelessness doesn’t bother me for a minute. I focus on the little details like how the pavement pushes my feet, how thick or thin the air around me is, how my teammates look when they run down their favorite road.
The devil is always in the details, but so are the things that are the most beautiful.
This process is so integral to me that it’s essential to my mental health. Blowing the mental fog every day keeps me sane and the only way that process can happen is when I’m pounding pavement. All the low hanging clouds, all the doubts, all the absurd things that make me mad, can’t keep up with me when I stride forward.
If you ever run next to me, and I’m uncharacteristically quiet, you don’t need to wonder what I’m thinking about. My mind will be on the road that I can feel pushing against my feet, and my mind will be on the feeling of a great tide moving within me. Running is not meditative, it’s more than that. Running is reinventing yourself into a machine that can push out the bad and make something wonderful with it. If that’s not the most amazing process that anyone can complete day after day, then I don’t know what is.
This essay is short because to describe running in full will take a lifetime. Honestly, I might never understand the entirety of it in this, or any, life time. I do know this though; my teammates are my family, my sport is my passion, and running is part of what makes life amazing. What more can I ask for from this club?