Run Happy

03 Jan 2012

It was one hell of a year, and through the darkest bits, running was the only thing that made me happy.

Although 'happy' is perhaps not the word. I run like I'm being chased, or like I'm the last man alive who can disarm the nuke - if only I could get there in time. There is something glorious and dramatic about smashing your feet into the ground and the Nails into your ears.

I'm so into this that I run events that help other people experience it. Fire Hazard is not about joyfully skipping through the forest. It's about the sour taste that foams in your mouth, the reaching fingers behind you, the repeating thought that, god dammit, I have come too far to die now.

But it's not really about running. This punishing attitude works everywhere. There's satisfaction in pushing to the redline physically, mentally, and emotionally, even when you don't have to. And it really gets things done.

But something happened today. I had my music on shuffle instead of a running playlist, and somewhere on a back street in Hackney Downs, I got jumped by Natalie Merchant's "Kind and Generous".

I stopped dead, my rhythm broken. I spent a few moments admiring the dark, wet street, the occasional lights in the terrace flats, the terrain suddenly something to be experienced rather than conquered.

And then I started running.

I'd swapped my usual savage, bitter grin for a real smile. And when Endomondo broke into the track with my lap time, I noticed something else.

I was going faster.

That's interesting.

I ended up covering an extra couple of kilometers over my normal circuit, and feeling much better, although much less dramatic, doing it.

So I fear that doing things - including the right things, done well - with the wrong mindset defeats their purpose. Gandhi said, even of menial chores, "you will do it with joy or not do it at all".

So that's what I'm doing this year.

I'm going to run with joy, or not at all.