Running is a funny thing. It can be painful sometimes, not so fun other times, and sometimes you get lost… although that can be kinda fun. Usually your feet hurt, and sometimes your knees, but for me, pain is not what makes me stop running, it’s what makes me start.
Sometimes I jog down and down and up and up and left and right and sometimes on the trail and sometimes off the trail and sometimes I stop, tired. And sometimes I give up. And I like running in the rain, with a jacket and soggy shoes and socks. Sometimes when I reach the water, a point, I’ll scream out loud. It feels very private to myself, to be alone, and scream, in the rain. I start running again when I get too cold. I run when I want to.
Sometimes I run in the mornings. Running in the mornings is hard. It’s so hard to pull myself out of bed, to put on clothes (socks are the real struggle) and pull on shoes, and walk outside of a nice warm cabin and start running. Usually it’s completely dark. It’s that moment, at 5am on a weekday when it’s 30 degrees and windy, with no light, only wearing shorts and a long-sleeve shirt, when I stop and think, “What in the world am I doing?”
But then I shrug, sigh and say, “I got up already, so I might as well go through with it all.” I sigh once more, shake my legs out a few times and start running.
It’s always really cold at first, so usually I start at a dead sprint. Eventually my body starts to warm, and I see the stars up above, shining through the trees, and I smile.
It’s in those moments, running through the trees, the sun just jutting over the horizon, when I think about why I run.
I don’t run to stay fit. More than anything else in my life, running is for myself. It is to clear my mind in a cluttered world. Chewonki is a tight community. In the case of bunk beds, we literally live on top of one another for three months straight. I never ran before Chewonki, because never before have I felt that the community around me has become so strong that I lose myself.
Running helps me be me.
Sometimes I run alone, and sometimes with friends. Running with one other person is to have such a private conversation that you are able to hold it over rocks and up hills and through ragged breaths. Running alone is like having that same connection, that same conversation, but with yourself. A conversation with yourself can be just as enlightening as any conversation with others.
Sometimes I run at night. The first few times I brought someone along because I thought it was scary in the dark woods, but now I run alone, in the dark, with a headlamp as my only companion. I like running with a headlamp. It makes everything simpler. All I have to worry about is the space right in front of me, that little 10 by 10 area where all the roots and rocks and boards and sometimes even trees are. I better worry about that little area, because if not I might knock myself out, or fall off the side of a cliff. When you only have to worry about what’s right in front of you, then you usually don’t worry about what’s right behind you. Worries, fears, and sad scary things in the dark. I know my fears are behind me, my running companion, constantly nipping at my heels, but they haven’t caught me yet.
Sometimes I fall.
Sometimes I literally fall, on a rock, or a root, and sprawl in the dirt. I like to rest for a few seconds, sprawled out on the ground, and then get up and start running again. Sometimes I fall in my head, I hit a mental roadblock and I can’t go on, and I walk for a little bit, and then I start running again.
After all running is really controlled falling. Falling, but always catching yourself.
Peder, Providence Country Day School, RI