Like 54 other people I know (jokes, I don't know that many people), I too took up the habit of running during lockdown. It started out as a sad way of consoling myself after two full months of binge eating, a terrible sleep pattern and gaining all the weight I tirelessly burnt off crying after a break up (and then some). Truth be told, I hated it. I still do for the most part even though I run 5 times a week. It never gets easier. I constantly cheat on Strava, pausing whenever I stop to walk, ending the route each time I reach 3Ks or when my pace falls below 5.3mins/km.
I think a lot before I start a run - is the weather good? do I have the time today? should I shave so I can wear my favorite tank and bike shorts? I think a lot about what comes after my runs - what's for dinner today? how long should I run for? But very rarely do I expect of what happens during my runs. I just switch my headphones on and run. Though, I can't say my daily les cours are entirely mindless and passive - I do think a lot, about myself, about work, about the guy I was seeing for 8 months before I found out he had a girlfriend.
And lately, I've been thinking about the parallels of running and the stage of my life now. For every run, I start knowing I wouldn't be on this run forever. I am aware of when and where this run starts and where it ends. Running feels transitory and very much like how I feel about most things in my life now - passing strangers in transit, some so fit and strong (people who make me feel sorry for myself), some barely catching a breath (people who I feel sorry for) and some who have turned into slight familiar faces we share awkward half smiles with once in a while. Life in my 20s now feels temporary - I won't be in uni forever. This job placement will eventually end. I take subjects and be done with them every 3 months. I will outgrow boyfriends and move on. This guy I'm seeing will probably be tired of my commitment issues. I have so much control of what happens before these few, yet important years of my life, and so much certainty of what I want to happen after. And much like my runs, I unfortunately have no control of what happens in between - the turn of events, the people passing through and the chances of meeting them again. Will I make it to grad school? Will I make my parents proud enough by the time I'm 29? Will I bump into my ex in the streets again with plastered unwashed hair dripping with sweat after another half-assed run?
I've been running for almost a year now. I make time for my runs and work my daily schedule around them. And while the transient pain of running gets the best of me sometimes, I religiously record them on Strava to make the kilometers count, and I am as determined to make these years count the same.