Until I began this blog, I did not write about running. Not even, as I mentioned last week, in my journals. The few attempts I did make to capture my feelings about running, were stilted and hyperbolic. And while I know I have been entranced by running for eighteen years, I also know my superlative-laced sentences do not accurately reflect the totality of my experiences with running. Sure, there have been many moments of elation, but there have also been many (if not more) moments of agony, of frustration, of sadness. That time my senior year of college, for example, when I didn’t make the team for the end-of-season championship races, is all sadness in my memory (and yet the experience is absent from my journals).
Because there is no written record of my reactions, observations, or emotions surrounding running, I worry that the narrative I am creating now (running as an activity shrouded in joy and pride and fear and relief) is not accurate. I want to know the arc of this relationship. I want to remember how I felt after certain races, practices, and solo runs. I want to be sure the conclusions I am reaching about running and me are accurate. But my memories are selective and not specific. The emotional resonance of past runs has been distilled by time, and feels apocryphal.
Running has been an integral part of my identity since I was twelve; it was so integral, it escaped scrunity. Running was always there and was so close to my concept of self, I had no reason to dissect its role in my life. And, too, because running was my identity, failure at running meant failure at being myself, a possibility too painful to analyze.
Further, and perhaps more accurate, any stress I had regarding running during high school and college was subsumed by concern about making friends. Running was a constant, my social life was not. Although running was often hard and often disappointing, it was always there. Friends, on the other hand, have always been hard for me to to find and keep. And part of learning how to make and keep friends was learning who I was in my own head. I constantly compared myself to others, and critiqued my actions in all situations.
Writing helped me figure out where I fit into the world. And running allowed me to escape these all-consuming thoughts.
Writing about running would have tainted it.
And so, the most important part of my life escaped analysis.
Now, though, I feel it is time to connect running and writing as I purposefully rebuild my running practice to emphasize mindfulness. I do not want to run out of duty or habit. I want to run for the joy of movement. Joyful running is not my default, however, and so I will turn to writing to help me close the gaps between reality and aspiration.
Running is a way to escape, writing is a way to understand why I want to escape. Running has been a sanctuary, too precious for words. But I don’t want it to be precious any longer. I want it to be vibrant, dynamic, vital. In this process of rebuilding, it is time to remove running from its pedestal and install it into my written explorations.
Hello, running, my old friend. Let’s sit down and figure out this life together.