so, i started running again. this is kind of big news, at least for me. you see, i hate running. hate it.
i started running in college at the recommendation of a smart, older woman who thought it would be good for me mentally, that it would help me clear my head. i liked and respected her enough that i didn't just laugh at her.
i had been never been very sporty, you see. i dabbled a bit when i was younger - swimming, basketball, baseball, field hockey. nothing ever really stuck though. i was under the mistaken impression that you could not be good at sports, smart and cool. so i never really let myself get good and if i started to show signs of athletic ability, i quit. what can i tell you? i was an idiot. additionally, i was amongst the girls who almost always walked on running day in gym class OR ran it as quick as i could so i could sit in the locker room and read while ignoring the inevitable stomach and leg cramps. as far as i was concerned, sports sucked and running was the worst.
"shana, i think you would benefit from a good long run every now and then," she said. i said "ok" and dug my gym shoes out of the back of my dorm room closet.
i ran in the woods adjacent to my college and then in the park near my parents house. i ran in the hills surrounding our apartment in austin and then around a track when we moved back to chicago. i ran for about six years. i hated it but i did benefit from a good long run every now and then.
my brain never stops working and it excels at multi-tasking. i can be designing a necklace, planning the grocery list and writing a letter in my head all at once with what feels like the greatest of ease. but when i need to REALLY FOCUS on something, like say writing this blog post or choosing the proper homonym, my brain sometimes stalls. my thoughts will drift to my to do list or worse, to the nether regions of my brain where there are little boxes labelled "eighth grade misery" or "crippling self doubt." this has always been the case and running helped quiet my mind. it helped me focus, keep all the balls in the air and kept me from falling down a rabbit hole.
but it hurt. running hurts. sore knees and ankles and nighttime leg cramps when i forgot to stretch. so, i started to run less and less. i was running on a track, which i never loved. it was boring, painful and my brain seemed to be doing ok without it so i stopped.
lately though, i've been poking around in those dark corners on my mind. i've been trying to do more writing. i'm working my brain hard these days and well, its a little sore. plenty of sleep and reading help, as does yoga.
a few months ago while i was doing yoga, a serene little voice popped into my head "maybe you should start running again." i told that voice to fuck right the hell off and went about my day. i thought i was done with that nonsense but we live in a neighborhood that is overrun with runners. there is a big beautiful park nearby that people just love running in. there's no escaping them. i remembered that when i quit it was partially because running around a track is lame. i hated it far less when i was outside, in fresh air, surrounded by trees.
a few weeks ago, i read marion winik's essay entitled "16,409 easy steps to late-life fitness." i totally recommend it because the next morning i laced up my running shoes.
i still hate it. it still hurts. probably more. the first time, i listened to the new tilly & the wall REALLY LOUD and took it slow. i wanted to die when it was over but it was done. the next day i decided to think about a problem i'd been having with some writing i'm doing. i felt like i'd written myself into a corner and needed to find a way out. when i walked into the house, i grabbed my notebook and made some notes before collapsing in a heap. i had solved my problem and created a new one. i'm running again and i need new shoes.