Over the last few weeks, I have been telling myself that I was going to start running again. Friday, I put on my shorts and running shoes and finally did, logging 35 minutes. Saturday, I put in another 35, as did I Sunday – and after returning from the Richmond Metro Zoo on Monday, I put in a quick 10 minutes to keep me principled and flush out any lingering lactic acid from the previous days’ runs and zoo trip.

Running feels natural.

Running puts a calm over me that seemingly no other activity can – the closest parallel being to draw or sketch. Have you ever tried to be in a state of anger when you run? It’s nearly impossible—at least for me—as if the body has its own defense mechanism: endorphins on some level I suppose. Yes, you can start your trek angry, frustrated, or upset but within the first quarter of a mile, those emotions have been released.

I mention sketching for a similar reason. Try to be angry when you draw a cartoon alligator with a toothache. You can’t. If you can, draw a duck scared of water and that should solve it.

Zen.

The neighborhood where I live is ideal for running. Paved paths and off road trails stretch for miles and miles snaking around lakes and brooks—an endless maze of interwoven routes—lined with the deep, sweet smell of honeysuckle and loblolly pine entering my lungs.

Sweat dripping from my forehead, legs burning, it’s hard not to feel at one with nature when, as you run, you pass adult geese and their newly hatched, fuzzy goslings as they come to rest on the bank of a pond where two mallard ducks hunt for fish fifty feet out and gangs of turtles kick their feet, their dark green shells heavy on their backs.

I understand in the past I have fallen off the wagon in concern to staying principled when running. It feels different now. I say this with confidence. Part of my failure in previous attempts at “being a runner,” is that speed has always played a role in why I run. I wanted to run fast, faster, fastest.

Lately, the opposite is true.

I want to slow down. I want to take a deep breath and take it all in: the honeysuckle, the geese, the snakes, the slender, wavy pines, and solid oaks, the silence of my own thoughts, the songs of birds nested high above me.

Here’s to the wind at my back.


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  1. Jealous of your very scenic route…..tuning is the best stress reliever ever….why I do it and a lot of it! I’m doing the richmond marathon in, november…..you should do the 8k that day!

    1. We live in a wonderful place for running in Charlottesville — when it comes to residential areas. After two years of being here, I am finally taking advantage of it. You’ll have to bring your shoes next time.

      As for the 8k, perhaps. Right now it’s nice to be running just to be doing it. I think I stress myself out a little when I have something to prepare for. With that said, I do want to run a race in Charlottesville at some point but no time soon. I’m thinking autumn. Here’s a link to the C’ville race calendar. There’s something going on usually every weekend, if not more: http://charlottesvilletrackclub.org/calendar/index.html

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