Sunday, November 11, 2007

Why I can barely live without my weekly run

One weekend morning each week I run in my neighborhood. It's the same one-hour circle; the only variation is whether I start by heading south or west. Recently I have become acutely aware that this weekly run is a pretty significant part of my life. Which has a little to do with fitness and a lot to do with some of the things that happen when I am running.

1. Seriously, running only once a week is my last frontier. I used to run marathons, and now, busy mom/busy high school educator, this is what I've got. I love running, and I love this hour I have on Saturday or Sunday morning.
2. Sometimes jackrabbits cross my path in the canyon, hopping into the brush. Seeing one never fails to make me almost giddy (clearly I am too much a city girl now). Who doesn't love seeing a bunny? Makes my day.
3. I usually listen to my iPod on my long run, and songs tend variously inspire or remind me, or serve as a soundtrack for my thoughts (below). Today it was Crowded House's "I Feel Possessed" that took me right back to college, and a vague memory of mourning a bad short-lived relationship. A couple of weeks ago I felt the need to memorize the Indigo Girls' "Song of Devotion" and listened to it at least four times in a row. And over several successive weekend runs last summer, I choreographed in my head "What Goes Around Comes Around" by Justin Timberlake. This must have been my mind avoiding more important business.
4. I do good thinking while I run. Okay, sometimes I obsess on a distracting situation or person, but most often I problem-solve work or relationship issues, and even experience moments of epiphany. I make to-do lists. I "write" scripts for apologies and thank-yous to deliver later. I come up with plans and ideas. My mind feels free to both wander and commit. It's delicious.
5. Despite the fact that I do my run arbitrarily backwards or forwards, sometime between 8 and 10 AM and on either Saturday or Sunday, there's a man I often encounter, walking in the opposite direction, at the same spot on the same hill each time I run. He's always wearing the same shirt, and the same great smile, with his admirable sense of determination. I spotted him once on the other end of my run, so I know he does the same circle through the neighborhood I do, except he walks it, which must take him at least an hour and a half. I miss him when I don't see him. These are the kinds of random connections I have with people that make me feel connected to the UNIVERSE. I am not overly superstitious or spiritual, but there you go.
6. Running connects me to my neighborhood. I take stock of houses for sale, landscaping ideas, barking dogs, people on porches, new construction, and garage sales. My daughter's little pink bike was a running find. So was my brother and sister-in-law's rocking chair.
7. I feel energized and hungry all day after I run, so I eat a lot and revel in being a healthy person. One beautiful day out of the week.

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