When people talk about running, they usually focus on the what (what shoes to wear, what songs to listen to), the where (where to run: city loops vs. tracks vs. trails), the when (when to run: early morning, lunch break, after dinner), the why (why to run: fitness, sanity, wellness, weight loss), and the how (how to run: training techniques and motivational methods for making it happen). Of course, all of those things are important; running is a combination of all of those elements. But there is something else about running too, something elusive, something that – along with the “runner’s high” – makes running magical.
I like to think it is time travel.
A great, good, or even a difficult run can leave a lasting impression. To this day, I still have flashbacks to the winter of my freshman year of high school when I first began running. I can vividly recall the brutal cold air constricting my lungs. Each breath accompanied by a punishing, painful push forward in hopes of keeping up with the group.
Thanks to running, I am able to transcend the traditional ties of space and time. I am able to tap into the past, into a deep well of where I have run before.
When I lace up my shoes in my childhood hometown and do a loop I did at age 15, part of me is 15 again. When I am struggling to run 4 miles in Carlisle, MA., I recall running in Colorado, where at age 20 I felt like a spritely young deer leaping and bounding through a 4 mile run easily, and suddenly I am bursting with energy anew. I am transported to Killington VT., pushing myself up burly mountain roads, and I am energized by what my body has done before and what my body can do again.
In my 20s, (when I was bicoastal, working freelance in tv and film) I spent a lot of time running around the reservoir in Central Park and the reservoir in Silverlake. The invigorating and energizing vitality and sense of accomplishment I felt then is not gone because I am no longer 20something. On the contrary, I access that incredible power daily through visualization and use it to keep me running on the right path at age 38.
The best way to get to know a place is to run it. The added bonus of course, is that you get to know more about yourself too. All my time running has created a mental footprint comprised of roads, sweat, struggle and accomplishment. The marathons (Marine Corps Marathon in 2008; New York Marathon in 2010) are etched upon my mind; the pain as well as the passion and perseverance. The “regular” runs too…every place I’ve pounded the pavement…New Haven, Nantucket, Silverlake, New Orleans, Carlisle, Austin, Colorado Springs. I can travel to these places in my mind when I am running, and it always helps me push through, transcend, and triumph over any difficult terrain- mental or physical.
Running is intimate, intense, memorable…and a magical way to (time) travel!