Your legs are equal in lightness to the air and the things attached to them seem like feathers, barely registering the ground beneath them. It’s almost as if you were being pushed along by an invisible entity – the god of running perhaps. You practically float along your favourite route, taking in the views as if perceiving them for the first time. Your eyes are wide open. Instead of focusing on the hour, day, or week that was, you are fully and refreshingly present. The mediocre becomes spectacular; a mind-blowing, absorbing feast for the senses. Trees transform into vibrant, swaying wonders straight out of a fairy tale, and birds and crickets seem to sing especially effervescently. The temperature is just right. Cool, but without chill, and a soft breeze swirls around your face with a fluidity serving to enhance your sense that you are one with nature. All the elements have combined to give you a truly magical experience and there’s nothing you’d rather be doing than running.
Whoever says running sucks is a sucker on a treadmill in an over-packed, under-ventilated, sweaty, smelly gym. Running is living. Running is to connect with your soul, to clear your mind, to feel truly awake and alert to your position in the universe. At this moment, you could happily gallop forever. It’s easy. You long to run amidst ancient trees in shaded forests, up spectacular mountains, along white-sand-beaches at sunset, to weave through urban streets all over the world. There is no discomfort and no harsh or irregular breathing. There is just you. Inhaling and exhaling evenly in time with your steps, allowing your mind to wander. Things you’d long forgotten bubble up to the surface ready for you to ponder with a fresh mindset. The meaning of life is something you can easily comprehend, and it begins to come clear, exactly what it is you want to do with your existence on Planet Earth. Moments like these, where exercise stimulates your mind and body in exactly the right way, provide clarity and perspective on what has been, what is and what is to come.
Unfortunately, running isn’t always like this. A lot of the time, it’s really tough and horrid. The near out-of-body experiences I described come only as a result of perseverance and dedication. It’s a point many people never reach because they give up to early, putting running in the ‘too hard’ basket. Sure, it keeps you fit and helps justify that extra slice of chocolate cake, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. And even I’m sometimes not rearing to pound the pavement all the time, (ok, about half of the time I plan a jog I’m tempted to stay home and do something easier, like eating). Everyone would do it if it was easy, and it definitely takes a little bit of self discipline to run regularly, but the rewards you reap are well worth any struggle.
In actuality, those ‘dream runs’ are often the only thing that keeps me going. After all, everyday life is bound to interfere in runner’s resolutions to run regularly. When I jog the morning after ‘leg day’ and my thighs scream out for mercy, I can tap into the reservoir of carefully preserved memories from these rare runs and remind myself that if I keep going, I’ll experience it once again. When my alarm blaring is the most unwelcome sound in the world and all I want to do is return to the far more comfortable dream land, I remember that if I push through this small discomfort, I’ll eventually achieve the ‘running on air’ sensation one more time. When for no comprehendible reason I have a stitch that won’t go away, a cramped muscle or sore foot, it’s the promise of re-living that moment where your whole body, mind and soul are all in sync; in beautiful, natural unison, accomplishing the simple goal of placing one foot in front of the other. So we runners wash the sleep out of our eyes, shake off the working day, lace up, go outside, place one foot in front of the other, and remember why we love the run.