what are you running from?

I ran twice today. (Twice: as in the typical accepted English usage, to mean “two times.”) This is not normal behavior for most humans who are not sinewy cross-country athletes.

from the archives. no tights in august.

from the archives. no tights in august.

I’ve been pretty solidly back on the running wagon since my birthday — almost 8 weeks — partially because it’s an easy and rewarding habit to stick with once I get started, and also because I’ve told myself I want to be in the best shape of my life, now that I’m th-th-thirty. An admirable, if slightly absurd, goal. I mean, I was 18 once, people. I get it.

I’m antsy to take on another long race. It’s been almost 4 years since I ran the marathon in Chicago. (The Bass Pro half is Nov. 3. I’m thinking about doing it, but don’t tell anybody… In case I change my mind…) It’d be fun to try to beat my best time (2 hours 18 minutes 23 seconds), from my first half marathon, when I was 24.

I was 24 once, people.

So I ran twice today. Whether or not this habit leads to record-busting, new-decade feats of glory, today it just felt good.

With that “twice in one day” confession, there’s a voice in my head that asks, “yeah, well, what are you running from then?” (That’s probably not normal behavior for most humans, either…) But it’s a big reason why I run: to get away from the Negative Norma in my head (Nancy is on vacation, you see). The doubtful, self-critical, often quite loud voice.

I run to get away from that. 

And I run toward its opposite: Runner’s High. Which most definitely is a real thing. I felt it when I first started running for real in 2007. A surprising rush of happy, productive, creative energy. I felt it during my marathon in 2009. A quiet, peaceful connection to my place in the world and all living things.

It sounds like bullshit! I know! But it’s real. 

I felt it again tonight, walking back to my house. It’s quiet and dark on the streets of Rountree. Bright windows glow behind pretty porches. The chatter of night bugs drones below my iPod — I’m in a Girl Talk mood these days. Streetlights make the leaves sparkle. And I am all alone.

If you haven’t ever walked down the middle of a (non-busy, of course) street at night, you’ve got to do it sometime. At least once. Just feel yourself being there. Being anywhere is pretty neat, when you stop to think seriously about it. (Runner’s High helps you think seriously about things like that…things like your place in the world and how nice it is to be alive. Which, I know. Sounds like bullshit.) But it’s easier to appreciate just being, in the dark, under the stars, when all the voices are turned off.

Bonus: I’ve found that windmill arms can enhance the feelings of wellbeing, if you feel so inclined.


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