There are a few reasons I started running three months ago.
Some of the obvious ones were to be active, to get stronger, to pursue fitness and to feel empowered by what my body was capable of doing.
But there’s another reason, too. My mind is silent while I’m running.
I know having an overactive brain is not unique to me, and you probably know exactly what I mean when I say that getting it to shut up sometimes is a feat.
It feels like the volume is constantly turned up.
It yells, whispers, talks, suggests, doubts, plans, reasons, gets me out of bed at night and sends me scrambling for a pen and paper at random times. It forces me to write emails and text messages to myself on my phone. It tunes out the radio and makes my commute evaporate. It wonders, wanders, and fantasizes, dreams, plots.
And sometimes it’s exhausting.
Do you ever wish there was an “off” switch to your mind’s lollygagging? I certainly do, especially at 1 a.m. when I’m just about to doze off, and my mind shouts, “Hey, you know what we haven’t thought about in awhile? Vacation planning.” And then I spend the next hour perusing dates and car rentals, and messaging friends at 3 a.m. to schedule dinners.
I have found my “off” switch, and it’s running.
My friends, who know (one of) my claims to fame is the fact I didn’t run, have asked me: “What made you start?”
“It’s 20, 30, 45 minutes where I’m not thinking about anything,” I reply. Some are confused and I hasten to explain: “My mind is constantly thinking, obsessing, fixing, debating, weighing ... and for the entirety of my run, I’m not trying to solve problems (other people’s or my own). I’m not planning. I’m not researching, or devising, or worrying, or making any decisions outside of: make it to that light pole. Sprint to the stop sign. Do the loop again. Breathe. Walk for a second. Now run again. You’re getting stronger. You’re doing this.”
It’s sweet relief from the demanding thoughts of my day and it’s comforting that for those minutes, nothing overrides the importance of making it to my finish line.
Not even my overactive rambling mind.
And the grocery list that needs to be written. Or the floors that need to be swept. Or the bills to be paid or emails written.
Those running moments are my mind’s silent ones.