How do you give yourself the space necessary to create?
Paul Jarvis

One Step at a Time

Running away from myself.

Running is a process that requires some understanding. A thought on the action. A consciousness of movement. There is a technical skill involved in putting one foot in front of the other, and doing so repeatedly. Like words on a page. To improve, to be competitive, to be more than just late for the bus one morning. You have to have in mind a knowledge of tendons, an awareness of breathing, a foresight allowing for a restraint of pace.

You have to know yourself. Know when to push harder, when the walls aren't really all that tough, and when the best action is to slow a little down. It takes a while of these thoughts. Be it a couple weeks reading, or a couple hours under mentorship. It takes one step after the other. Each a little quicker, a little more often, with a little better form, leading to a little less exhaustion, a little better results. Personal trainers can be great, a friend to run with; usually better.

On a treadmill, following a schedule, from “Couch to the Moon” or “Your first 5K, and more.” Enjoying the breeze on your face, the snow in your eye, the sweat down your back. If for the air in your lungs, as a caffeine fuelled commute, a stress relieving post-argument breather, the sprinting part of a larger routine, or the push towards that last five pounds lost, or fifteen, fifty, one hundred and fifty. Whether you’re shaving seconds, dropping pounds, or adding kilometres. Running can help with a lot, and it’ll help a lot with that often. The key piece of advice, the main thing to learn or to know. Above all, to become really and truly stellar, to enjoy the activity, to give yourself a proper chance at achieving any goal: you have to go running.

When you look back at your running life it’s surprising how quickly all that planning, that understanding, the thoughts of form, of heel-to-toe, and breathing out on the left foot; it all fades into the past. You outrun it. It’s all second nature. It is your nature. Whether your outings are filled with music, audiobooks, stunning visuals, mental check-lists, everyday monotony, deep conversations with a running buddy, chit-chat, silence, or chaos. The worst thing for a runner is to be stuck inside a body. What once improved your form now trips you up. Messing with your brain.

Nobody runs a marathon because it’s a long series of miles. It’s a great physical feat that’s almost entirely just an exercise to not be in your mind for a while.

When I run I don’t think about my body. I've done that already. I did it for almost five months and it changed my life. It made me a runner. When I run I don’t think about my lungs, I can only feel my heart beat for the first mile or so, there may be wind in my hair but I don’t brush it from my face. My feet hit the ground and they move me forward, but that’s not the goal. Every time I run I'm removed from myself. It’s my form of Zen, it keeps me calm, and refuels my ability to be within myself. I've never tried church, meditation never grabbed me, and alcohol only works so much.

I go and I run.

I go for a run and I write stories. I think about past relationships. I reminisce, I empathise, I think about trying hard drugs. I plan out my week, flesh out characters, figure out dialogue, come to conclusions. I try to improve my salad recipes — I could replace the rice with blended cauliflower, switch halloumi for feta, or would that be too salty? — I resolve to spend less money online. I think about the ever increasing stack of unread books by my bed. I attempt to recite poetry from memory, and rarely ever manage it. I think more about the failed relationships. I wonder if writing about it would help. I think about the nature of inspiration. I think I should spend more time amongst nature. I plan potential camping trips. I go back to that one story idea. The one that’s been stuck. Rattling around my brain for all too long. I'm sure I can get it to work. What if I try it this other way…

Running is the space in this world I give to myself. Three to four times a week.

You put one step in front of the other, like words on a page, and soon you’ll have a novel.

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