As much as I love to run there are days that I don’t. Every once in a while, my journal says it’s about every five years I stop running altogether. The reasons vary. There’s a myriad of rationalizations, justifications, and excuses. Mostly it’s because down deep I’m a pretty lazy individual. This is one of the, well this is the main reason why I’ve never engaged in things like speedwork or seriously trained for a distance like a marathon. There are quite a few feelings I experience during this time. Guilt, I would have to say is the strongest. I quickly rationalize that away. As a social worker, I’ve learned there is never a simple answer. There rarely is. The chaos in my head is what makes me an uncertain runner.
During that time I don’t miss it.
I’m not sure what causes me to start running again. There’s just this feeling that I need to run. I can’t explain it, it’s just there. I know the next couple of weeks, especially as I grow older that will just suck. I’ll go from someone who can run 15-plus miles without stopping to someone who can barely make it around the block without gasping for breath.
I was raised to be an independent lad. I’m the oldest of three children with a father who suffered from polio and now this thing called post-polio syndrome. This is one of the diagnoses with which he struggles. The newest is Alzheimer’s. There’s not much that causes me concern or scares me, that diagnosis scares the shit out of me. We’ll leave that for another time. Anyway, I take care of things, I try not to complain and I’ve learned to move on. It’s not that I don’t do emotions, I do. I cry at movies and commercials. I don’t do drama. Bring that shit to my house and you’ll be excused…rapidly.
Morning is my time of day. I enjoy the solitude which this time of day offers. I’ve never been a night person. Every once in a while stuff piles up throughout the day and my head becomes clogged. Nothing goes in and unfortunately, nothing goes out. My escape at night is to read and there are times when even this becomes a chore.
Every runner has his reason to run. I’ve often been asked what it is I’m running from. It’s easy for me to dismiss this question with a flip of my hand and a quick “nothing.” Honestly, I’ve never given it much thought. I’m one of those runners who has run to eat and that has never worked in my favor long-term. Looking at my personal limitations has always been difficult. The work I’ve done to improve my life has made it much easier. I used to get caught up in the running jargon and questions. “When are you going to run a marathon?” “Do you want to meet with my physical therapist?” “Why did you run an ultramarathon?” “Don’t your knees bother you?”
I have a habit of taking a camera everywhere I go. I did this long before the cell phone camera became as ubiquitous as it now is. I want to be able to record my run, sort of. I actually want to record some of the things I see along my run. If I time it just right, it’ll be an amazing sunrise. I see the world differently, sometimes more proactively through the lens of my camera. I feel freer. I’m not, at least I don’t think I am, a good writer. I’m not a great photographer either but there’s something I enjoy about looking at a photo I’ve made. The emotions come back and for me, they tell a story.
When I struggle to find the place I need to be, I like to retire someplace quiet with my journal. I’ll write and write. The burden is lifted with every word until I feel the solace which I was seeking. I recap the fountain pen until it is time to purge my head of the thoughts which have accumulated throughout the day. Many times at the conclusion of a run, I would find myself sitting on my front porch often with a cup of coffee and my journal trying to recall the thoughts and ideas which had accumulated during a run and for some mysterious reason then vanished from the reality of my mind. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why when I don’t run I find myself longing for a run. It is the ability to purge the thoughts and return home empty-headed.
For now, I am going to remain a nonrunner. I will continue to use the exercise bike for my cardio workouts until the next time arrives when I wake and realize it’s time to lace up my running shoes and go for a run. When that time arrives, I will no longer be an uncertain runner.