Running is a state of mind 

Today during my therapy session I did a visualization exercise. I closed my eyes and went on a joyful run, one in which everything clicked: fast feet, fluid body, restful mind.

I went first to Lake Waban at Wellesley College, around which I have probably run hundreds of miles, many of them strong. I felt the packed dirt path, and my feet moving quickly around roots and stones. My legs pounded in my mind’s eye. My core tightened, my heartbeat quickened. I felt the rhythm of the run.

I went next to a few of the marathons I’ve run, leaving out the painful miles and focusing my attention on the snatches of flow at Hartford, Boston, Chicago. I came into my body and felt the power coursing through my muscles. My pelvis began to contract, and my calves tightened and released as my mind convinced my body I was running.

At last I focused on Chicago lakefront, where I first felt like I truly belonged. Seeing the downtown buildings from Hollywood Beach two miles north brought a smile to my face. Chicago, my discovered home. As I observed the city, I felt myself running down the path, my body tightening with the forward motion, power emanated from my core. Energy pulsed through my limbs. I was running. I was flying. I was me. I was joy.

My therapist brought me back, then, to her office, calling my attention to my feet, my legs, my back against her couch, my neck, my eyes, my face. I was not running. I was not at Wellesley, nor in the midst of a marathon, nor in solitude on the lakefront. I was here, in a small room with a small window, firmly seated. And I was filled with a persistent sense of joy.


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