Walking it Off

“Ugh,” I mutter, mostly to myself, as I regard the piles of snow lingering in the tiny parking lot across the street from my apartment. “I can’t wait for winter to finally end.”

The Polar Vortex is back, bringing with it sub-freezing temperatures. Bringing with them a sharp desire to stay in my pajamas and sit at home, leave the running shoes in their spot under the chair, and make a cup of tea instead. There is internet to catch up on, there are blankets to wrap myself in. There are a hundred reasons to call it a day before I even go outside.

Yet, for reasons I can’t begin to explain, I am still pulling my gloves and long-sleeve T-shirt on, and slipping into something a bit more athletic. Pajamas discarded on the edge of my bed, muffling the call of the warm sheets.

I make a few more of my awkward stretches, plug in my headphones, and head out the door.

Almost immediately, I’m hit with a regret. I forgot my hat. It’s too late. If I turn back now, I’ll give up entirely (Note: I probably would leave my house again, but I sometimes like to play things dramatically).

Friday’s run was cut short by simply running out of steam. With about half of the mission still to go, I immerse myself back into the Zombies, Run world, but realize I may have missed a couple of details. Either way, the zombies aren’t really the motivating factor anymore. They’re more of an entertaining background; if they ever had been anything more.

Running and walking are two different breeds of exercise entirely. A couple of years ago, walking was my jam. It was a great way to get out of my house, and immerse myself in my own headspace. I’d get some space from my thoughts, but also have time to process them. Often, it was equal parts exercise and stress relief; and living a short walk from the gorgeous Jamaica Pond meant it could also serve as a distraction.

Running seems to be the opposite. There is a lot of blankness and space from my thoughts, with a few moments of lucid clarity. Minor epiphanies strike between lengthy minutes at speed, otherwise full of my brain rapidly cataloging all of the ways in which my body thinks it’s about to break down. Occasionally, a smaller voice will call out between the clangs of mental cacophany, “hey, dude, don’t forget, you can do this!”

I had a lot to process, a strange Saturday packed with ups and downs: weird events in my professional life, and possibly wonderful ones in my personal. Solutions, possibilities and drafts of conversations-to-have prickled through the clangor of physical complaints. At the end of the run, turning onto my street for a short cool-down period, I was no nearer parsing out the events of the previous days, but I felt something else.

The end result of a walk has, in my mind, always been tranquility. What I’m finding is, after a run–especially after a run where I meet or exceed the arbitrary goal I set for myself before leaving–I am overcome with a feeling of victory.

Shirt of the Day: Retro Game Heart (8-bit drawing of old video game consoles, arranged in a heart. It glows in the dark!)


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