Feet forward

I’m lost, I’m broke; I’m

level

 

I know that runners sit alongside vegans and guitar solo enthusiasts as the most tedious dinner party guests – always reeling off regimes, equipment, speeds and figures that mean nothing to anyone – but what can I say? I’m one of them. I don’t know where my professional life is going, and my personal life, whilst infinitely more fulfilling than it used to be, isn’t quite solid. But running? Running ties it all together.

As each stride pounds into the earth I feel the coarseness of my mood eroding. My alternating frustration with and disgust towards my fledgling career are chipped away at, gradually, until I reach a point at which I’m unable to ignore the sheer beauty of the sunlight on my face, or the encompassing swell of the music in my ears, or the rush of goodwill brought on by nodding at a fellow jogger. Yellowing leaves from the row of trees to my left flutter across my vision and tint the biting wind with life-affirming, not life-sapping properties, and I let my consciousness drift into the expanse of concrete path stretching out before me.

Thoughts pop-in unannounced, but not unwelcome: I think about my father’s sigh and confession that he was far too out of shape, and had to start running or “doing something, because I can’t go on like this any more”, to which I would reply that he isn’t an outdoorsy person, he just isn’t, and there’s no getting around that; I say that he should choose something warmer, and he agrees, and we both smirk into the middle distance at the idea of him jogging at any great speed. I think about my relationship with friends from school, university, travelling, feeling a renewed desire to respond to messages languishing in my inbox about when we’d next meet, though strangely at peace with the thought of not seeing them. And I think about the fragments of romanticised futures flickering in front of me, given life by the indistinct wealth of ‘potential’ bridging the gap between my current position and their realisation.

As I pull around the corner towards my house I feel my anxieties slipping away from me. I see my inward musings as selfish and am able to focus on the day as a series of moments worth celebrating, rather than as another in a long line of days to be endured before some miraculous change emerges. I finish, stand still, feel the tide of possibility pulsing through me.

That’s why I run.

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