I like the quiet of running. This may seem counterintuitive since I spent the last post expounding the attributes of perfectly designed headphones, but the quiet comes, often, even and especially when I have music crammed into my ears. Between the rhythm of my own footfalls and the even calibration of lungs that have been waiting all day for this exertion, the quiet comes, well, quietly, and keenly. As my legs speed up, everything else slows down, and it’s incredible. Truly. The worries: the house I just rented with the broken toilet, crooked corners and that funk in the carpets, scraping cash together to buy the presents I so desperately want to give to my friends and family, the things I haven’t done, the things I should do, the responsibilities of adulthood and the obligations of personhood, it all starts to fall blissfully into the background.
Since I’m pretty curious about this subject, I’ve read there are typically two mental styles runners fall into. There are those who moderate every footfall, monitor their heart rates constantly throughout, and attune every sense to the task of running. Completely intrinsically focused, their brains asses how feet work inside their shoes, how legs warm and loosen gradually, and are astutely aware of each biomechanical function happening in their own bodies, and it’s this meticulous attention that keeps them running, aware. The other types are those runners who think on everything but those physical markers and characteristics, the extrinsically centered runners. I think I probably fall into this category, but I’m sure all of us are a unique combination of both. I’ve certainly had runs where I’ve been hyper-aware of my body and how it’s performing in space (the run where I broke my 3rd meta-tarsal comes immediately to mind), for the most part though, from the moment I step into my shoes and begin the routine of methodically lacing them, my brain knows its queue. Its Pavlovian. It starts to feel relief almost the moment I step out the door. From that first breath of the cool, fresh air outside, I can start to ignore the things that worry, bother, annoy and the successive steps let go of the anxiety and attentions that have harnessed my being. I often wish I had a voice recorder with me running, or that somehow I could digitally save the thoughts that swarm into my head when my feet get to moving and the ancient connection of human to the land reinforces itself again. I could have blues, metal or pop music turned as high as it will go, and within 20 minutes I won’t be able to actually hear any of it.