Why Run?

Why run? Why not? After a long period of feeling absolutely awful (the details of which I won’t bore anyone with, for they no longer matter anyway) I decided to start running. When you visit a doctor for reasons related to the head, or at the least the inside of it, you first receive offers of chemicals which ‘might take a few weeks to get into your system and start working’; a less than pleasing antidote. You may be asked, ‘How much do you drink?’; ‘Do you use recreational drugs?’; ‘Do you have thoughts about harming yourself or others?’ Each of these questions has its answer, whether you want to share it or not. But the most useful suggestion often made in any one of these scenarios is this: ‘Try to get plenty of exercise.’

Everyone runs around for absolutely no reason at all when they are young; that is, when they are children. But I started running for real, I guess, in 2009. I was in San Francisco and had been thinking about running for a couple of months whilst travelling throughout South East Asia. The fact that I picked one of the hilliest cities in the world to begin my running life is a quandary I’m not sure I should pursue, but I suppose there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

I think the question of WHY? is probably the most profound of questions we can ask, both to others and to ourselves. It is also the most difficult question to answer, which is where the profundity is authenticated. I have no idea what made me want to run in 2009. Or if I did know I have now completely forgotten. But what made me want to start running again recently is, I think, the sense of clarity of the mind that can be achieved by simply putting on a pair of running shoes, some easy-to-move-in clothing, and heading out onto a road, or a trail, or a track, or a beach, or whatever, and moving forward, thinking only of the next step.

When I run, I feel my mind become at once completely empty, and yet abundantly full. I think about nothing and everything at the same time. Memories pass through me like water. Images of people and places, as numerous as the leaves in the trees above me. All of these things that have made me. These things that have led me to this street, this hill, this vast empty beach. To where I am now.

This doesn’t really answer the question of ‘Why run?’ at all. But I knew it wouldn’t. Not really. I’ll come back to this question though, when I’ve ran a little further.