And When I Think Too Much, I Sprint.
Do you love running? I know a lot of people love the idea behind running. The idea of being healthy, setting personal goals, and feeling free to go wherever your legs can take you. It’s pretty amazing. But, actually getting out there and putting the miles in can be an uphill battle. No pun intended.
Okay, the pun was intended.
When I need to be alone with my thoughts — and my Pandora stations — I pull up my spandex, yell at myself for forgetting to buy bananas, choke down a handful of chia seeds, and bolt out the door. I jog up 9th Avenue and turn right on 58th street. After a game of chicken with tourists and taxis by Columbus Circle: I’ve made it!
According to centralpark.org, Central Park spans 843 acres. That is 6% of Manhattan’s total acreage! While 150 of those acres are comprised of the park’s 7 waterbodies, that still leaves 250 acres of lawns, 136 acres of woodlands, and 307 acres of assorted buildings and PAVEMENT. That is a lot more running space than the narrow sidewalks outside my apartment building which always seem to fill up with hordes of people the moment I step outside.
Since I moved to Hell’s Kitchen last year, running in Central Park has become my thing — my quick escape from New York City’s skyscrapers. Sound body, sound mind, and sound Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.
Arguably, running in the park is a ‘thing’ for a lot of people. There is something incredible about moving alongside hundreds of runners with a fierce sense of determination, challenging themselves to push just a little bit farther than their last PR. When I hit a stride a few miles in and my muscles have warmed up — ready to help me attempt to fly across the pavement — there is a sense of calm that washes over me. According to WebMD, “When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body.” It is definitely fair to say that long runs sometimes leave me feeling that well-loved Runner’s High.
However, the last mile push of some of my longer runs often includes daydreams about quietly sitting down in the middle of the path and accepting defeat. When I feel like my body is about to fail me, I turn to the wise words of Tim Noakes (Professor + runner in more than 70 marathon and ultra-distance events):“Your body will argue that there is no justifiable reason to continue. Your only recourse is to call on your spirit, which fortunately functions independently of logic.”
So, as the April showers turn into May flowers this weekend, I plan to pull up my spandex and call on my spirit to push just a little bit farther than last weekend’s run. Corny? Totally. BUT, are you ready to do the same? I’ll meet you at the Park. I’ll be the one bopping along to Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill in Ibiza”. He may only know sad songs, but this one is just so ridiculously catchy.