One of my favorite things to do toward the end of my time in college was to take a long winter’s run on the weekend. I’ve always been athletic, but never the star of any of my teams, and certainly not the fastest. I’m tall… and take huge lumbering antelope-like strides. While having a running partner was always something I welcomed, I always tried to schedule time for a slow jaunt by myself. I probably never went further than two or three miles—just enough to get that itch in my calves.
I never ran outside with headphones (something that I do all the time in the gym). Listening to silence is an art; running hones my concentration and (ironically) my stillness. I’d go so far as to say that running alone is a “Sabbath” activity. Sometimes I feel like nothing can break my meditation… and other days I purposefully open my ears to the environment streaking by me. On my college runs, I frequently stopped in the middle of my run to watch an inning or two of a Little League game.
Today, after who knows how long, I went for a Saturday run. I couldn’t find running tights, and was reduced to wearing capris and soccer socks. I am nothing if not a fashion warrior on the trail (kidding).
After 10+ years of running in the same place, Saturday runs have become vehicles to discover hidden neighborhoods in suburbia connected by labyrinthine paths. I decided to start my run by heading to the lake nearby, which was much more of an adventure than I anticipated. The remaining detritus of the winter storm had turned to a substance reminiscent of sparkling concrete and rough glass. I slipped while vaulting up a mud and ice-laden hill, falling forward onto my hands. Sometimes it’s good to get your ass kicked by nature.
I had forgotten that running “without purpose” could be one of the most fulfilling things in my life. Perhaps Saturday runs are the best because they are elected weekend activities on typical days of sloth—you can’t help but wonder (and be entertained by) the other runners who cross your path—or maybe its because with each rhythmic pound of my foot I become one step closer to emptying myself… so I can be full again.
After my run, I found myself breathing deep and doing sun salutations on shaky legs with a smile on my face…reaching my palms to the sky as the winter wind bent the tops of the trees. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “I just felt like running.”
and… listen to this.