Or Why Every Content Strategist/Writer/Thinker Needs a Pair of Sneakers
I am not interested in team sports. Anything with a net, racquet, ball or puck is the enemy. I did a SOLO in SYNCHRONIZED swimming.
When I discovered, to my horror, I'd become a mid-twenties chubster due to shift work at a 24-hour cable news channel and a penchant for consuming my misery in late-night carbs, joining some sort of organized orgy of fitness was off the table.
But nearby, in Trinity Bellwoods park, there was an easy path. It was flat. And round and a short distance from my house. I bought shorts. And sneakers. And a cute Tshirt. And quickly realized this was a whole new area of clothing I could warm up to.
Every morning I'd knock on my friend's door. Anjali lived in the flat below me. Together (unless she slipped a note under the door that simply read I CAN'T when I knocked) we'd jog together to the park and do six laps. Then we'd jog home.
Slowly (more slowly than one would think) I made the connection between food that would make me feel badly on the next morning's run and the decision to not eat it. Slowly, I became a certified former chubster.
"Oh you're just running for fun now," said my mouthy massage therapist at the time, a guy who really didn't understand that most people really don't want to chat when your thumbs are digging into their spine and tinkly pan flute music is playing.
"Everyone says that when they start running and then they train for something and then they they race," he said, snidely. How basic it would be to register for a run. His tone said. How ... predictable.
"Not me," I mumbled, my face flat against the plastic massage table. "I'm just doing it to not be fat."
Yeah. And then this happened.
My first half marathon was a fun, sweaty mess in Ottawa. I wore a new T-shirt that cut up my underarms by the 11th kilometre, but I didn't care. I was RUN-ING.
So why am I telling you this? Why do you care?
You think about a lot of stuff while you're running. Here's a list of some of my thoughts during runs:
- My arms hurt
- This shirt is stupid
- Oh! another KM gone!
- I like this song. If George Clooney and I were to meet at a BBQ I hope this would be playing in the background
- I have an idea for a book about a girl who can breathe underwater and her mother forces her to entertain tourists at an all-inclusive so she plots her escape with an unhappy resort guest who's grappling with a tragic secret
- I have an idea for a book my friend Ruth and I want to write called Lifeguards! about a group of teen lifeguards who deal with love, loss, crushes and eating disorders as they lifeguard at a community pool. The first book in the series shall be called Zinc or Swim
- I like Michael Fassbender so much it's becoming distracting
- I like Daniel Craig so much that I'll just think about his face for the next 5 km
- Should I get bangs? I just grew them out, but now I miss them
- I have an idea for a new blog post about my friends' successes in the industry
- I have an idea for a blog post series about the future of Nova Scotia and The Maritimes
- I think I know how we could arrange the main navigation on that new website for our new clients
- I want pancakes
- I have an idea for our big new business pitch
- I just thought of an awesome caption for my clients' Instagram photo
- I would like to move to the country. I'd be a published author. Brangelina and all their kids would come visit to try to convince me to let them make a movie of my books. I'd feed them lobster and homemade biscuits and in the end, I'd agree. We'd be friends.
- I have an idea for a short story about a girl who works serving grilled tofu on the waterfront
- I would like another pet
- Specifically, I would like another dog
- How many more KMs are left?
Sometimes, though, it's the not thinking that's best. My first half marathon hit the pavement after a particularly turbulent time in my personal life. The repetitive slapping of sneakers on the pavement blew the sounds of heartbreak and What Ifs right out of my head. When they were gone, I could think about things that mattered again ... like George Clooney and BBQs and stuff.
Then, I found myself in Halifax, making Nova Scotia my home. Everything was different - my job, my home, my friends. But I still knew how to run.
Here I am, all red-faced and sweaty after a 10k with new friends. Do you like my jacket? I loved it. Eventually I had to throw it away due to the stinking.
For years after arriving in Halifax from Toronto, I ran on my own. I ran in the dark in the mornings. I ran when it was disgustingly cold or wet and rainy or foggy or sunny. I ran on the treadmill when my soul couldn't take the elements anymore. Work and life got busier, but still I ran. And running let me do this stuff:
- Listen to a bunch of podcasts, which gave me new ideas and inspiration for storytelling
- Eat really too many carbs and not become obese
- Get rid of a buzz of nervous extra energy before the day started
- Eat really too many nachos
- Listen to comedy albums that were so funny I'd have to stop mid-run to laugh and ultimately discover a love for Aziz Ansari beyond Parks & Rec, which turned into a love for his Netfix show, which helped me write this blog post.
- Just work it out. Work all that crap that runs around my head and everyone's head out
I ran when I traveled. Running in places that aren't home helps you see things faster. You can get in an historic site or a bit of awe-inspiring nature (if you're into that sort of thing).
I ran in San Francisco. I ran in Banff, in Berkeley, in Boston and Bequia. (That last one was stinking hot and lasted about 15 minutes.)
With every step, I, to quote the famous Elsa "let it go, let it go". I ran off stress and frustration and nachos.
Last weekend, I ran with friends. For 21 kilometres we ran. We sang Hotline Bling. We commented on the prettiness of snow. We whimpered about sore knees. We talked about what we'd eat. We wondered if there'd been some mistake and somehow the route had mysteriously become longer than 21 kilometres. And still ... we ran.