Run away from your troubles.
I started running at a time when I was feeling really down. A paper bag was the only appealing outfit option and I was blasé about everything aside from which cream cheese I would use to seduce my bagel. My routine was uninspiring; cram onto a stuffy and crowded subway, chase a sub-par corporate paycheck, pay bills, bail my roommate out of alcohol-induced endangerment, take a group fitness class with a painfully enthusiastic instructor, squeeze in a mid-week date as exciting as the prospect of removing my wisdom teeth, repeat.
When a friend mentioned an upcoming sprint triathlon, she unintentionally threw me a lifeline. I signed up immediately, hoping that training would break my numbing patterns. It forced me to take those first steps on a cold, grey day in which I was under-dressed and wearing hand-me-downs.
Seven years later, running has transformed my life. I have met close friends – and my husband – through this primitive yet cathartic sport.
Running is my pursuit of happiness: it’s slow, it’s never easy, and it has highs and lows. But unlike many of life’s pursuits, it works without fail.
I’ve run while bawling my eyes out. Broken-hearted, broke and unemployed, I have fallen down, ripped my leggings, and with blood dripping down my knee gotten back up and kept going. Sometimes, all it takes to chill out – even just a little bit – is pushing myself through a degree of discomfort.
I’m amazed that a remedy as basic as running has been hidden in plain sight in our modern world. It seems like science only recently started focusing on evidence that humans evolved to run, not very fast, but over longer distances than pretty much any other species. Since I don’t have to hunt for my food, I really don’t need a reason to go for a run. I don’t need an intention, a destination, or anything that restricts the animal sense of freedom that running brings.
I run in my downtime, alone or with friends, through the city streets, across bridges, entranced by flashing lights, inspired by urban heat and gaining perspective every step. Sometimes, when I watch the hectic chaos around me, I realise how much running allows me to retreat and balance. I start to look forward to the rest of the day and the best part of every run – coming home.
I have come to appreciate that although running is not a one-way ticket to euphoria, I never regret a run. And I can’t say that about most other facets of life.