running, i found out yesterday, it’s about one thing: breathing. since december 28th (not that long ago), i started to exercise everyday. for a week, it was walking for a little over 5 kilometers (3 miles), but very fast. it took me an hour to do that. since last sunday, though (four days ago, to be exact) i started including running (jogging?) too. it is a challenge for me – i’ve never exercised unless it was obligatory (gym classes). i really liked swimming when i was a kid, but the hassle of the equipment, finding a pool, expensive classes, showering with other people, etc. made me quickly give up.
as if to keep me on going, i looked for the Murakami book i quoted on the earlier post and it just clicked with me. he started running when he was 33. i am now 25. after reading, i think it’s a good age as any (i always feel that i am too old to do certain things, even if it’s something that can’t be measured, like being healthier) to start. let’s get some things out of the way now: running isn’t fun; i am certainly not doing this because of that; it’s not about losing weight per se either (but of course that wouldn’t be a problem, i just don’t want that to be the focus because i know it’s hard for me to lose any and i don’t want to be frustrated if it doesn’t happen).
so far, running has been giving me some kind of purpose: every day, after work, i run. it’s keeping out of the house for an hour; i look at the sky more frequently now; i don’t care so much if it rains on me (it used to drive me mad, now i run regardless); the tiring feeling i have after it is completely bearable – i used to have ideas that i wasn’t even prepared to work out. i still have some doubts about it, mostly related to “am i doing this correctly?”, which is mostly on my mind anyway. but i do intend to go to a doctor and just act general questions about it. also, i bought new shoes. running shoes! so, i am officially a runner now. but above all, it’s teaching me some things about myself. i do enjoy the feeling of completion and how my body responds every time i finish a lap. it’s giving me space to just not think about anything; it’s helping me focus on other things too; and just feeling overall like a functioning/active human being.
there is a weirdness to it, too: pointless competitions with other people running/walking (i like to remind myself that it doesn’t matter and that the only thing that matters is how my own body is competing, but it’s not always effective); i find it strange to see two people walking/running together because how can you talk and run at the same time? and also, the track i go to is not very wide so two people always mean a small detour or slowing down in order for them to realize there’s someone trying to outpace them and people are mostly oblivious; i don’t like that i sweat that much and also that people see me sweating this much – actually, i think my irritation/shame actually comes from becoming so red from the heat.
and so yesterday i started to breathe slowly, as if to test what it would change. and it changed everything. basically, when i breathe that way, i get less tired. i get impatient, for sure, because i have to pay attention as to how i am breathing and it’s also an act of knowing when to breathe in and when to breathe out, but it makes me more apt to run for longer (as in time and distance). i know my work out routine is flawed and perhaps even ridiculous to people with the proper stamina – run for 200m; walk for 250m, and keep doing that for an hour. but it’s suiting me well. after i get used to this rhythm (i also have to track how many times i do this during the hour but haven’t found a way to memorize it, which is sad), i should improve and maybe run more and walk less, and so on.
there’s another thing, perhaps a secret, which running is about besides breathing: humility. all you have is yourself – you have to listen to your body, not to control it, but to say that you can do that, that you believe in yourself to do that without taking it too far, without thinking how fast other people are running. so far, i’ve been enjoying this connection far more than running itself, but i am hoping it will balance out.
listening while writing: Max Frost – Sunday Driving