Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Running Back to Myself

I started running at fifteen, when my parents bought a treadmill and put it in the basement of their house. As a completely self-conscious high school sophomore, having a safe, tucked away space to begin running was exactly what I needed. I couldn't fathom lacing up my running shoes and taking to the streets where--horror of horrors--someone I knew might actually see me. I was a true wallflower. I was also, I quickly discovered, as I covered miles on the revolving track, plugged into my whirring Discman, a runner.

These days, I run outside. I'll still sometimes take advantage of my parents' treadmill when I go home to visit, and the Montana day is one laced with ice, or blown over by winds on the east side of the Divide, or humming with a deep August dry heat, but in the main, I have become an outdoor runner. I long ago overcame my fear at being seen, though somewhere, deep inside my mind, my fifteen-year-old self will occasionally whisper reprimands if a familiar car drives by, or if my ankle twists on a warped sidewalk. Such is the way a wallflower's mind may always work (anyone's mind may always work)--fighting the thoughts and feelings that were engrained within us during that most fragile, developmental time in life that is called high school. In high school, running became a kind of salvation for me, and it has been my saving grace ever since, for nothing I have found in my life has ever given me the same feeling of peace, strength, and simple settled purpose that I find after a good run. Even a bad run is a good run. My runner's high doesn't equal jubilation; rather, it brings me back to the core of myself. If I could bottle this feeling and take a dose of it every day I would, but then again, I wouldn't, because I wouldn't get to go running.

I come from a family of runners. My father was a runner. My aunt is a runner. My mother is one of the most devoted runners I know. She will run with a cold. She will wake to run when the streets are inky black and every soul in every house she passes is still sleeping. She does it because it makes her who she is. Every single time I put on my running shoes, I feel grateful for my mother's diligence--I don't believe I would have become a runner if she hadn't been one too.

This morning, as I was running (Yak Tracks are a Godsend), I was full to the brim with ideas for this little blog. Full of things I'd like to say, to figure out, to write down. I'm in the midst of making a list, and I'm excited. I'm also moved. So many of the people who received the message about 'Small Soul' have said such kind and encouraging things to me. Nobody laughed or rolled their eyes; everyone simply said Great. Go for it. What a wonderful idea. That means so much to me.

"Small Soul" feels a lot like that treadmill in the corner of the basement when I was fifteen years old--I want to get on it. I'm nervous and self-conscious, but I want to give it a try and see how far I can go. Maybe I'll discover that this writing will offer me what running always has: a way back to myself.

Thanks for reading.


p.s. If you feel like leaving a comment, I think all you need to do is click on the purplish 'comments' link below (next to the post date), though I'm still learning the system, so I apologize if I'm wrong.