Today I had the blessed opportunity to go for a fifteen minute run. This was recommended by my physiotherapist 2 weeks ago, and so today I tried it. This is what I have to say.
Firstly I felt that it was tiring. I haven’t been running for a while, and instead have substituted this with swimming and a bodyweight workout that have both gotten me feeling considerably fitter than I had been feeling last semester. I don’t actually want to be moulded into what society feels every man should be, the strong muscular anchor of emotional stability and physical sturdiness— I just wanted to do the things that make me happy. And I must confess, doing all these other workouts really got running out of my mind. When I finally ran today I felt heavier than I had ever been. I put on about 2 kilos from all the working out, so I guess this amounts to no surprise. It was tiring.
But then it felt really liberating. After a while I realised that I was free, free to run around my neighbourhood and truly explore. That was what running has always been to me, a means to explore, discover and create. It was never a chore, never a reason to keep fit. It was more than that. As I ran past stationary cars stuck in the rush hour jams, pedestrians walking back home and buses packed like a can of sardines I finally realised that this was perhaps what I was always meant to do. You know that you love something when you see it in a vastly different way than everyone else. To me, that’s running, pure and simple.
The hope of the moment is, that I get to really run again. I’m not contented with these fifteen minute reveries the same way long distance lovers will never, never be contented with hour-long Skype calls. It just isn’t the same; I don’t feel like I’m communicating with the earth the way I was meant to. I have a twenty minute run due next week, and I hope to monitor the state of my leg closely. I don’t want to miss a moment on the road. Every step I take is like one taken by a prisoner on parole, I miss this freedom more than life itself, whilst knowing that they could very well mean the same thing.
For when I run I feel a weird mixture of things. It feels like I’m running away from everything, yet at the same time I feel like I’m running towards myself, chasing a version of me that I really want to be, the resilient, never say die attitude that I hope to espouse at every point in my life. Yes. That’s what I really chase in the few minutes that I run, this version of me that I hope can be as strong in real life as on the road. It’s this version that really escapes me in my daily life, anyway. That’s why we call it a chase.
It reminds me of things that I’ve missed out on in my life as well. Missed opportunities, moments where I could have helped someone or proved myself to be a better person. Sometimes both. And yet. I run to help myself deal with all the times I fell short. I run to make up for a lack. A lot of why I choose to write is reflected squarely in running. I don’t want to think that I’m running away from myself. That would be terrible, wouldn’t it? The feeling that you are constantly escaping from what you really are? I see a lot of people saying stuff like “you (perhaps their lover) help me forget” or “with you everything feels alright, I can escape from all this that is life”. But I don’t want to escape. I want to see myself for all I am, and square myself up and say to myself “I accept you for all you are, all your frailties and insecurities. You’re a beautiful person inside and out and I am glad to be in this body”. I feel like only I can ever tell myself that and that only I can be the medicine to the ailment, you know? I want running to help me realise that. To help me be okay with this person I am, and in fact, more than ok. I don’t want to march into someones life and use that person as a remedy for my lack, I want to be so much more than that. And same vice versa. It’s quite a leap, but believe it or not, running helps me see this version of myself that I want to be, before anything else.
And so that concludes the run. It is exactly fifteen minutes when I stop, in front of the neighbourhood fitness corner. I do a few sit-ups and pushups, divide these into three sets of consistent effort. My muscles ache and my breath is short but I love it. I lie on the floor and let the sunlight bathe me in warmth. I sweat, I pant, I smile to myself. The HDB flats loom over me, bathed in the evening sun as well. An Indian man walks past and just stares at me. A Chinese couple sit at the bus stop nearby and talk about what life has in store. I am in the middle of it all, a ball of sweat, struggling, yet feeling so good for it.
One day I will run again, for real, I think to myself.