- Stacey Quick
'Dum, dat, dum, dat, dum, dat' repeat.
Every runner knows the sound that his or her shoes make as they repetitively connect with the pavement. The onomatopoeia above is the best way of typing the sound that my Nike Pegasus' make. I can hear it now, as I type.
Funnily, the sound that my shoes make while I run can do two things to my currently cloudy mind. As they pound the concrete, in perfect rhythm, they can make me feel like an absolute champion (I'm not, but sometimes I imagine I am). I feel free, full of energy, and almost unstoppable.
However, that same exact sound can also drive me mad. You know, the way a prisoner ends up head butting the cell wall because of a leaky pipe that hasn't been fixed for decades? Mad like that.
Let me get one thing very clear with the millions, possibly billions of people reading this article right now; I am not a serious runner. I have completed one marathon, and two 'fun runs'. I average between 10 and 20 kilometres a week. And, let's face it, I have too much of this sexy, upper-body muscle to ever really take long-distance running seriously...
Though, until my lovely aunty Jackie signed me up to run the Madrid marathon with her in 2015, I had barely ever run further than 5 km. But, once I discovered the tarmac, I just couldn't stop. And I never will.
Why? First I need to bring up Meditation.
I have endlessly been told time and time again that meditation can give you more focus, it can relieve stress, it can teach you to worry less, it reduces the ageing process, it helps you feel more connected, it can improve sleep and brain function. I have even heard that it helps you lose weight. And, to be honest, I believe it! Great! The only problem with traditional meditation is that, generally, it requires you to sit still. There is my problem. I struggle. I really struggle. I did try it though! Once. It lasted six minutes. Honestly, I got bored.
Thankfully, running entered my life. As soon as I could build up enough stamina to run at a nice, steady pace for an hour, I found a form of mediation that just works for me. My mind can close down during full consciousness. I can analyze and interpret every single issue, problem, and dilemma that, to which, I wouldn't usually have time to dedicate my thoughts. I can then deconstruct these issues and realise how minute they are on the grand scheme of things.
I plan things that need to be planned, I think deeply about conversations I'd had the night before, I create mini to-do lists for the approaching days. But, the best part for me is the blank. If you're also a runner, maybe you'd know what I'm on about.
The blank is when your whole body remains active. You find yourself at point B , you know you'd left from point A, you can remember the path that you had taken to travel between these two points. But, it's as if your mind was taking a rest during that little trip. You kinda go 'Whoa, what....?' Like when you doze off briefly during an animal documentary, or a work-related meeting.
These little blanks are so good for you (or at least they are for me). I sometimes feel as if my mind is a circus. I over organise, I over plan, I over analyze, I over think. Up until my eyes close at night I'm trying to find something that rhymes with purple.
Running gives my mind that blank that I need. I finish my runs feeling alert, precise, mentally and physically active, and ready to continue on my endeavour inventing words like 'Schmurple'.
Oh, and physically, it's amazing. It burns calories, strengthens bones and muscles, improves cardiorespiratory function, better prepares you for that pending zombie apocalypse (that we know we all secretly want to happen), gives you sexy legs, improves immune-system efficiency, prevents high-blood pressure, increases joint strength and stability, and of course, extends your life.
I would strongly recommend runners and non-runners alike to pick up a copy of 'What I talk about when I talk about running' by Haruki Murakami.
“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
Just to finish, last Sunday I completed a 'Run for Love' here in Dumaguete, Philippines. The run itself was set-up to raise funds for the local Dumaguete jail, providing prisoners with better facilities for rehabilitation; which, in itself is great. It was a beautiful 10km run, and I placed 6th!
I also had the lucky opportunity to meet a young gentleman named Lorginson P. Gaso. I'm pretty sure he placed in the top three, and the most interesting thing was that he had completed the race barefoot. I later learned that he hadn't just left his runners at home, but he in fact was a long-distance, barefoot runner. The defending ultra-barefoot category champion might I add. When I say long distance, I mean 103km long distances, twice. Check out the short interview below: