If You Run, I Think You Know What I Mean
I always stop running for a couple of weeks after a 50-miler. It’s not really intentional. I’m not smart enough to know if this is because my body needs me to take it easy, or if I feel like I’ve earned the right to not run for a few days.
See, the thing is: running isn’t always my favorite thing to do. Sometimes I read. Sometimes I write. Sometimes I take my daughter out for frozen yogurt and we talk about school and bullies. We talk about boys (and dads and brothers and uncles) who laugh everytime they hear the word “balls.”
Sometimes I lay flat on my back, put headphones on, and listen to Radiohead or Tom Waits or Angus & Julia Stone for as long as my body and my kids will let me. The music from the left and the music from the right connecting on an ancient stage in the middle of my head. It’s magical. I’m sure my hearing is screwed because of it.
Sometimes I watch French films without subtitles and try to figure out what’s going on. Sometimes I watch my life without subtitles and try to figure out what’s going on.
Sometimes I really focus on my career. I target it the way a 10-year old draws a beam on a spider with a magnifying glass. I argue about words and pictures and how they fit together. I teach other people how to start sentences with a subject. I get a little warm in the heat of trying to get the word out to people who don’t listen or read or really care, but I like the challenge.
Sometimes I eat way too many cookies at one time and feel wonderful about it. Especially sugar cookies. Snickerdoodles count as sugar cookies.
Sometimes I swim. Sometimes I yoga. Sometimes I bike.
Sometimes I turn nouns into verbs.
And sometimes my favorite thing to do is sit and watch my wife read as the sun goes down—the birds out back loud and chatty about the darkness to come. We’ll wait and wait and wait until our eyes fail us. Then we’ll flip the switch.
Eventually, on a night before I go to bed, I’ll get my running shoes out, I’ll wash my shorts and socks, and I’ll fall asleep staring at topo maps.
And as soon as I lace up in the morning, grab my water bottles, and hit the trail: the flutter, the bounce, that familiar cadence below me, I’m hooked again. Like warm rolls in a farmhouse. Like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong. I’m in. I’m a runner, and I’m thinking about my next 50-miler on the horizon.
I can’t say I’ll ever figure out how to balance anything in my life. My figurative inner ear is pretty damaged these days. The hammer went to town on the anvil. But I think I can say with confidence that running helps.
And if you run, I think you know what I mean.