October 18, 2011

on running.

It's been interesting for me to see what keeps popping up on the blog, the topics I return to again and again: writing and places and spaces, colors and lists, tiny moments from the everyday. For whatever reason, though, I haven't written much about running. Strange, because it's such a big part of my life--the center of my sanity, really.

Running has more or less taken the place of sports in my life. For years I played anything and everything, from soccer to basketball to volleyball. Not to mention the swim team, golf lessons, tennis lessons, plus a brief, wildly unsuccessful softball phase. (Too many injuries to count. Basically, I can't catch.) I grew up with the belief that sports were the relief of the day--the cutting loose after hours and hours spent sitting at a desk. That never quite changed, and when sports were no longer an option for me, I turned to running. 

I'm not an overly enthusiastic runner. Not really a consistent one, either. Because, well, let's face it: some days it's just not happening. Some days, sleep feels better than any run ever could. But when those days turn into weeks, that's usually a sign of my disposition (See: Not Good) and I can say with confidence that running is the truest marker of my state of mind.

When I look back on the roughest patches of my life--the times that I lost myself, or someone else--I realize that running was absent. Whether it's because I didn't have the energy, or the time, or the drive, it just didn't happen. As soon as my feet hit the pavement again, though--or, okay, the treadmill--things began to turn around, each and every time.

If I had to say why I love running, if I had to explain what it does for me, I think it has something to do with the memories it carries. When I run, I sometimes feel a bit like a kid again. Like I might be part of a Capture the Flag game, or playing tag, or on the soccer field again. My senses bring me back to those moments: steady breathing, aching legs, my ponytail falling against my back in a fixed rhythm. I love running because of this: for once, and for one heavenly hour of my day, my mind moves from the mental to the physical. I stop worrying, stop overthinking, stop planning and re-planning, stop making mental lists of everything under the sun.

Instead, I listen to my breath. The pounding of my feet. My heartbeat. And it's listening to my own heart, I think, that saves me--that brings me back to myself. It's the only thing, really, that keeps me present. And isn't that the best way to be?

Since moving to San Francisco, I've been running. A lot.
(I'll take that as a good sign.)

(Photo: My Flickr)


Sweet said... [Reply to comment]

i've been running lately too! and i mean 4x a week for 40 minutes per session! it feels great!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

Just signed up for my second marathon so this post hit home for me. Keep on running lovely! XO!

Caiti said... [Reply to comment]

I feel the exact same way about yoga. And just this morning, I realized that I desperately needed to get back to my mat - my life is a mess! (Working full time & going to school full time can be very conducive to a messy life and also not much time on my mat!) But this afternoon, I had enough time between work & class to practice a little flow!

Laura Marie said... [Reply to comment]

@CarolineSaw your tweet about the Napa marathon--that'll be so beautiful! :)

Bridgette and Natalie said... [Reply to comment]

Just did my second half marathon this passed weekend! A run no matter how long is such a great addition to any day. Running is such a great time for solidarity and YOU time.