Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Reason to Run

I have been running here and there, mostly in the gym, on the treadmill, for some of last year. This year, I ran more. . and more. When I felt depressed, I ran. When I felt anxious, I ran. When my husband was in Manila, it got quite lonely and unsettled. I ran. When I lost my job, I ran.

Instead of ruminating on thoughts of midlife torture, I put on my running shoes and just took off, hoping to run away from everything. After 30 minutes of running (which is really a speck in real time), I find that my mind and spirit are clear, albeit my body is achy. But since physical pain is secondary to emotional turmoil, I ran again.

Everything hurts when you start to run--the knees, the shins, the feet, the back, the neck, the upper arms, even the head. There were times I would feel sick, sore, and limp the whole day after. "What's wrong, mommy?" asked my younger kids.

"Head, shoulders, knees and toes," I would say, and they would giggle.

"You look like you've been hit by a truck or something," noticed my older boys.

Something magical happens after a third of a mile, specially when running on a trail. The body is warm and loose. Thoughts drift away from feet, to head to spirit. There is just you. I become one with the crisp air that hits your face, the sound of my feet on the trail, the smell of pine trees, and Rihanna's Disturbia. Wonderful as the surroundings seem to be, that too, fades out into thought. The body is in auto-pilot and the mind is free to wander away from mundane constraints, to a land far, far away.

"Mom, are there video games in heaven?"

"Everything that will make you happy is in heaven," I said.

In real life, the mind counters the body, doubting it. My spirit is very shy, prone to conflicts between my distorted and learned mindset. ("You can't do this, you can't do that.") That magical portal happens when the mind, spirit and body are running as one. To get all that trinity in unison is a powerful thing. No one doubts the other, lest they feel the physical pain.

The body is forced to release endorphins, the "runner's high," better than cigarettes, sweeter than coffee, very much like deep and personal prayer--a feeling of connection with your Creator. It's like a peaceful walk in the park, on a sunny day, when you feel loved, and you are just you, like all is well in your heaven, no worries. And that feeling of happiness and peace is a piece of heaven--my reason to run.

And though some days, I feel nauseous when I see my sports bra, I know that in no time, I willfeel better. I have signed up for my first 5k "fun run," which was really not fun to train for at the start. But, just like it is after the first mile, most things are a matter of mind over body, and with spirit in unison, think of the possibilities. . .