“I’m often asked what I think about as I run. Usually the people who ask this have never run long distances themselves. I always ponder the question. What exactly do I think about when I’m running? I don’t have a clue…All I do is keep on running in my own cosy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
I now consider myself to be a runner (well, probably more accurately a jogger) and this is pretty new. Even a year ago, I would have laughed at other runners, out in all weather and looking exhausted. I did not understand why anyone would do it to themselves. And then I took it up. I needed a new challenge and it seemed like a suitably insurmountable task. I started slowly, I built up my stamina, and now I can run and run and run!
In doing so, I have discovered that there is a strange attraction to exercise. Who knew? I sleep better, I eat more and I look hot. I have abs! And defined muscles in my thighs!! I keep catching sight of myself in the mirror and marvel at how good I look…I have secretly always done this but now I really know that I’m not kidding myself.
Running completely empties my head of all of the rubbish that usually floats around in there and gives me space to really think…often all I can think about is what a stupid idea this run was but I know that once I cross the 2 to 3 mile barrier, everything becomes clear. I can pound out my problems on the pavement. I can’t stop to reread messages that have angered me, can’t check my bank balance to see if it’s as bad as I feared, can’t look up stressful work issues…all I can do is think and make a proper strategy. The greater the emotion, the greater the energy, the better the run – my fastest mile is still one that I sprinted through when I had been cancelled on barely an hour before my current crush was supposed to be coming over for dinner.
Better than angry running or upset running…oh so much better…is the running that I do when there’s actually nothing getting me down at all. Then, I fantasise…I dream…I work out a different type of energy and imagine working up a different kind of sweat. My feet create a rhythm as they strike the ground. I work hard to keep my legs moving…I imagine touches…tastes…tongues licking the sweat that salts my skin…my muscles burn, and I run harder and faster. I hurt and my lungs are on fire. My breath is short and I pant with exertion. But on days like this, I can never run far enough. I need more and this need gets stronger as I race myself forward. When I arrive home, I am spent but not satisfied. The craving smoulders deep inside me, waiting.
Oh yes…I love that I am now a runner…