Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Quiet Space


Torn between writing about running or not writing, I'm going to write about running. Or at least I'm going to start by writing about running, again. I've found out during these past two months as both my frequency and distance has increased how important running is to my well-being. Yes, the exercise has been great and the shirts that didn't fit so well at the height of steroids and post-chemo carb-loading now fit a bit better. 

What it really comes down to is that running is my quiet space. No email. No social media. No phones. No people. Just me and my music. The cliche often portrayed in commercials, books and movies is the runner's epiphany. Lace up the shoes. Take a few strides and answers to vexing problems crystallize. That never happens. Not to me, at least. 

My mind wanders a lot when I'm running. It thinks about the lyrics of the music playing; it observes the surroundings; it usually grouses a bit about the lack of friendliness of other Boston runners (the runner's courtesy wave is all-but-never acknowledged on my Boston runs, and always acknowledged on my Barrington runs); maybe it bounces a bit from how to phrase an email or what to say to a colleague; it thinks about how to run a baseball practice; perhaps a couple of ideas will float in for a future blog post.   and often, it calculates how far it is to the next turn, the upcoming section of run, how its body feels, and the pace of the run. It's rare that I even think of cancer, or my cancer, unless it's done with a little bit of n attitude. And after my mind's processed all that, I have a mile done and four more to go.  

Then a wonderful thing happens. 

Quiet.  

Because for all the noise pumping through my headphones, running is my quiet space -- my meditation. It's my way of learning about myself. Because once the scattered thoughts have come and gone, and it's just me, my music and my running, my mind turns inward and stops processing tasks, and starts thinking about who I am, how lucky I am to have the life I have, and how I want to live. I almost always end runs feeling inspired and energized, not simply because I've released a few endorphins and burned some calories, but because of the quiet space I was able to inhabit for the last few miles.