Today for the fifth time this week (that is, if the weather’s nice) I will make my legs and body hurt. I will make my nose so runny that snot will be coming out of it in buckets (I do beg your pardon; you might be having your breakfast whilst reading this post on your snazzy and shiny new smartphone or iPad). Finally, I will have caused blisters to appear in between my toes; a consequence of chafing.
might be thinking that I have become a modern disciple of the Marquis de Sade
in relation to my body. You would be wrong, though
Reader, I’m a runner.
For about twenty years now I have been an active jogger. Track or pavement, you name it, I have pounded on it. I still remember my regular runs at Havana University Stadium in the mid-90s when I was still a student at uni. But then my professional life began and I had to adapt my running hours to my new work schedule.
Relocated to the UK in ’97, I didn’t run for the first year or so. I was still getting used to my surroundings. Then, one day, on a warm, summer Sunday morning, I told my wife I would go out for a short run. Despite
my fitness, I could feel my muscles aching. I could only manage a couple of laps around our local park. In spite of the physical discomfort, however, I realised that I was still in love with jogging. I vowed to go back to it in earnest and have kept my promise since.
A recent article posed the questions: Why? Why do we run? Mine was one of the 688 replies the feature got: why shouldn’t I? I agreed with the author of the column, Adharanand Finn that “Running brings us joy. Watch small children when they are excited, at play, and mostly they can't stop running. Back and forth, up and down, in little, pointless circles.” Moreover, running is liberating. Yes, there’s the ache (not pain, if you feel pain, stop doing it and check with your GP), the wear and tear to which you submit your knees over time and the aforementioned bodily fluid coming out of your nose. But there’s also a sense of letting go and leaving your troubles behind.
In my case there’s another reason to go out for a jog on a cold, winter’s day with the temperature hovering just over the 0° mark. It’s hard to explain, though, because my motivation is not based on one single element, but rather, on a symbiosis of different factors: I run outdoors on my own whilst listening to music.
The outdoors aspect gives me a scenery, albeit of an urban ilk, that changes constantly. Even when I’m constantly jogging along the same roads and taking the same route. My loneliness is the catalyst for inspiration (whether it results in a post on my blog or an article for publication in a newspaper or magazine). The music is one of the more important elements. A lot of the melodies I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate in recent years have been listened to whilst I’ve been pounding the streets and pavements of my barrio.
Over the years my running routine has changed. Back in Cuba I used to run in the mornings. That changed drastically when I started to work as a teacher and began my semi-professional dancing career with the Havana University Folkloric Ensemble. I could only jog whenever the opportunity arose. Settled in the UK and my love for running rekindled, I used to set out in the mornings again. For the last decade, however, I have opted for sunsets instead of sunrises as companions to my regular run. Nevertheless, a few years ago, on a warm summer Sunday morning, I went out for a jog. It was still very early and the sun was not out yet. As I went up a steep hill, Bach’s Prelude in C major (performed
by cellist Yo-Yo Ma) kicked in on my mp3 player. As if on cue, the sun began to rise behind me. It was pure magic. Had I been looking for a branch of philosophy that could explain why I was running up that hill, that wordless moment would have summed up it for me perfectly: the beautiful innateness of jogging.
Next Post: “Urban Diary”, to be published on Wednesday 27th February at 11:59pm (GMT)