Other people’s words about … running
When it was light enough to run, I set out on the path that circles Lake Burley-Griffin. The last time I’d run there, I had mucked up that marathon. The temperature hovered at zero: my ungloved hands were painfully cold, and my throat burned on each inhalation. Heavy banks of mist rose from the water; garnet-coloured leaves caught the first morning sunlight; galahs dug for seeds in grasslands rigid with frost; yellow poplars blazed alongside conifers and eucalypts I couldn’t name; hot-air balloons floated from the horizon at the opposite bank. I ran to stay warm and I ran to buoy my mood and I ran to stay a part of this glorious composition. I ran too because once I’d committed to the loop, I had no other way of getting back to my car.
From ‘The Long Run’
by Catriona Menzies-Pike
Two weeks ago, feeling sore and stiff and out of sorts and achey, I googled ‘hip flexor stretches for runners’ (or some such other, similar, innocuous phrase) and downloaded a set of five stretches that I vowed to do daily, in an effort to loosen up my nearly-fifty-year-old, sedentary worker’s body.
That, at least, was the plan. But one of those five daily stretches was a kind of yoga squat: a pose where you bend your knees from a standing position and lower yourself down to a straight-backed crouch — keeping the soles of your feet flat on the ground and placing your arms between your knees, hands in prayer position — and then stay there, in that deep, stationary squat, for a minute or two. I did this comfortably enough (though somewhat awkwardly) on Day One. On Day Two, I felt sore afterwards; and then I made myself far, far sorer by going for a run despite that post-stretch soreness. And I’ve been sore ever since — so sore, in fact, that my physiotherapist tells me I need to lay off from running for now. Not because this is a running injury (it’s not, technically, since I didn’t get it while I was running), but because running exacerbates it.
So here I am, not running, for the first time since I took up running again back in 2017, at the age of forty-seven.
It is enough:
(1) There are pots of tea to brew …
Strangely enough, I don’t mind at all. I thought I would mind, and in a pre-pandemic life I probably would have. But today? Right now? I don’t.
Because if there is one thing I am grateful for, in this strange, post-pandemic world, it is that living in a lockdown has reminded me to slow down: to accept my life for what it is rather than for what I thought it might be. (Or could be. Or should be.) I am healthy, and so are my family and friends. I have a job, and a roof over my head, and a bed to sleep in. I have books to read, and pots of tea to brew, and cakes to bake, and beautiful bowls to eat from, and beaches to walk on (if not, for now, to run on).
That is what I have, and it is enough. It is truly enough.
It is enough:
(2) … and beautiful bowls to eat from.
When I read Catriona Menzies-Pike’s words in the passage above — I ran to stay warm and I ran to buoy my mood and I ran to stay a part of this glorious composition — I had to blink away tears. Those are the reasons I run, too. They are the reasons I will run again, one day sooner or later.
But still, what I have right now, though it isn’t that, is enough. It is another loop, though not of the running kind, and I am committed to it. And it is, simply, enough.
Lately I’ve been reading …
- …The year you finally read a book about climate change: In response to Earth Day, the editors at the New York Times present a list of books to read if you finally want to confront the reality of climate change.
- … Covid-19 puts in stark relief not only the fragility of society but also the consequences of systemic gender bias and outright misogyny: Nathaniel Popkin on the legacy of the failure of ‘sad and stupid men’.
- … The tyranny of distance and the shocking bushfires that kept the tourists away delayed the inevitable spread of virus in Australia, enabling a brief glimpse into our possible futures: Amaali Lokuge on why, despite the terrible economic costs, Australia should celebrate having managed to keep COVID-19 at bay, at least for now. (Thanks to my mother for this one!)