I used to be a runner. I’d run every other morning, no matter how cold, along the lakefront, through the streets of Chicago, wherever I could find some clear sidewalk, for miles and miles. In the past year or two, this running has tapered off substantially. I can’t say exactly what caused this. Laziness, heat, working an 8 to 5. I was just getting back into a routine three months ago when a horrible foot injury left me tied to a desk chair, without my beloved work break walks.
In order to get back into shape, to have an exercise routine, and to get #backtomybirthweight, I’ve been waking up early and running in the glow of the pink Austin sunrises. The runs are slow, short, and painful. My Fitbit still thinks I’m walking. This cold(ish) December morning was my 7th run since my foot healed, and the first in which, when the little Couch 2 5k lady said, “Start running,” I didn’t say, “Nah girl” and when the nice lady said, “Start walking,” I didn’t kiss her on the mouth.
While getting back on the running path, I’ve wondered about its benefits for my mental health. Just about everyone sings the praises of running for achieving mental calmness, like moving your feet fast enough pushes the pedals of your mind, working out some of its anxious energy – science. Solange sings, “I tried to run it away / Thought then my head be feeling clearer,” a lyric that describes part of why I run. Even if it’s often not true – I can’t run away from emotional pain or confusion – the act of running feels like the equivalent of taking a mental vitamin. Maybe it will bolster me, make me strong enough to face some of the hardships of being a person with a little more clarity, even if it’s not a quick fix.
In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami writes, “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.” I’m not exactly running long distances again yet, but the blankness of my mind when I run is likely part of this strengthening of the mind along with the body. It’s meditative in a way that meditation can’t be for me right now – and it’s a little more healthy than baking shows. Sometimes I think about Kanye, but mostly I think about nothing, and what a blessed break.
This likely won’t be my last post on my journey to get back into shape. Hell, maybe I’ll lift a weight. In an effort to stop thinking about Kanye when I run, and to continue thinking about nothing, I’m now accepting your best running song suggestions.