In 2010, I laced up some old running shoes to see if I could manage to run 3 miles with The Dog. My first book recounts the story of how I started doing this to prevent The Dog from depositing his detritus under my sewing table, where I had spent considerable time.
Before long, I was running without The Dog. Six, seven, 15 miles. It was too hot and too far for him to manage. And in this way, I learned I am better than The Dog in at least one area. And so I must be human.
I joined a group of runners, and I made some friends. I finished a couple marathons, and made some more friends. I learned how to run a track workout, and I made even more friends. I started to take my training more seriously. I knew every path that would take me for whatever distance of whichever kind of workout. I developed a considerable addiction to high performance Lycra and brand name affinities.
And then, we moved away from that place of known people and distances and landmarks and hills and tracks. Far, far away, and I was faced with a choice: give up the thing that had provided so much sanity and measurable goodness or get my butt up and out of the house for new trails, new friends, new tracks.
Running makes moving easier, and it makes everything better.
Running helps me to experience a different part of our new town.
The trail I most often run now takes me behind main city thoroughfares and through a beautiful, wooded landscape. Here I see a hidden treehouse, indigenous species, and shortcuts to the drugstore. I see the backside of the library and develop a better sense of how the streets are planned. I understand my new town because I experience it both on foot and in a car.
Running forces me to find my tribe.
I’m going to need to visit the local running shop. I haven’t made it that far yet, because I don’t want to. I don’t want to find new running friends because I like the ones I have. But. I am out of my favorite electrolyte replacement drink and I will probably need some new socks and I want some help finding longer trails for my longer runs, and I don’t want to run alone forever. And so I will march in there and get the skinny and plug myself in. Because that’s what big girls do.
Running keeps me healthy.
I don’t mean skinny (certainly) and I don’t mean fast. I mean, when I run I am as close to without a mask as a person can be. When I run, I am allowed to be angry or sad or happy. When I run, all the mental junk that comes with a giant family transition courses through me like my blood. It rumbles around and jostles. And when I finish my run, maybe a tiny loose end was snipped clean. Running keeps me mentally healthy. I need to run because I need that space and time, I need to sweat and pant and throw my weight into hitting paces or distances because it releases me from the mundane, it liberates me from the self.
Running makes everything better. When I run, I know who I am, where I am and how to move forward.