The Freedom of the Run

I remember watching people running by in mid winter with just a hoodie over their running clothes and a winter hat and thinking they were out of their minds. I’ll admit, I still think they are crazy. On a cold and icy winter morning, I want to be inside with a tea and heating not out for a run. The difference now isn’t them; they are still a little crazy my eyes. The difference is that now I get it.

I’m not an experienced runner by any means. I just started last week with the Couch to 5k app on zombie mode with a bottle of water in my hand and gasping for breath as if I were dying at the end of each jogging cycle in the workout. But a week into the program, I have a new understanding of it. There’s no one around but the music, Johnny Zombie telling me when to run and jog, and the baby in the stroller I’m pushing uphill while jogging. It’s freedom. It’s all freedom. And even though my muscles feel like they are detaching themselves from my limbs and my lungs feel like a grenade explodes in them after each jogging minute, it is awesome.

I look forward to my time out there moving. It clears my head, makes me a little saner even if it’s just for a little bit. It’s quiet and peaceful and out of the corner of my eyes I see a nice view and  scenery. I hear the sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking and children laughing over my music and my zombie trainer. I smell the freshly cut grass and the grills cooking what smells like delicious steaks. Unfortunately some times I smell the scent of freshly pesticided and fertilized lawns, but even then I don’t care. I smile at neighbors that smile at me and say “hello” in return to their greetings. I even give thumbs up when they make a commentary about me getting a workout in or how cute my boys are. It’s a great new world out there.

I wonder if it’s me that changed. I still feel self-conscious if I see people looking at me, but it’s fleeting as I’m more concerned with my goals that someone I’ve never met and probably never will. I want to be better: healthier and faster with more endurance. I want that feeling of freeing solidarity that magically erases everything that makes me miserable for at least a half hour of my day. I want to forget, without drinking or anything else people use to forget. Most importantly, I get it.

So will I still look at them as insane? Probably. But they have the right idea. Hell, next year I might even join them. I’ll be the one in baggy running sweatpants, parka, and my signature winter hat. I might even suck it up and wear my snow boots. Maybe not though, because I like my tea and bathrobe walking around the house on a cold winter morning. That’s too many months away to make these sorts of decisions now. I recommend the feeling of being out there though, even if it’s only for a walk. A nice peaceful walk on a nice day instead of wasting away in front of your television. Plus, it sends a great message to your kids seeing you active.

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