on-going mostly unedited stream of thoughts

why I love running

In 2018 I ran 60 days straight because I hated running, so I needed to depend on streak challenge. I hated running because I didn’t know how to run. Every run was torture, I was already out of breath by the 500m mark and my chest felt quite uncomfortable. I didn’t know back then, but my runs were anaerobic – a state where the body produces a lot of lactic acid and can no longer be supported with oxygen. No wonder I was feeling like hell each and every run.

These days, I have to be convinced thoroughly not to run. I depend on my biometrics to tell me if I should run, so every morning while the apps are loading I silently hope that they would tell me my body is in an okay state to exercise.

I started to like running because I learnt to run really slowly. I started running really slowly because I was trying to run at zone 2, and due to my lack of fitness my zone 2 was really slow. In fact, a brisk walk then could easily send my heart into zone 2. It still felt hard and tiring because I was so unfit, but I enjoyed being capable of enduring.

My health has been terrible since 2015, so I don’t have a positive relationship with my body. I resented it for everything I could not do due to its failure. It was unfair of course: it failed because I had nonchalantly abused it for a very long time.

But thankfully my chronic illnesses didn’t affect my body’s ability to move, and its capacity to learn how to endure. In the early days of trying to exercise I did keep burning out though, because its limits were small and I had no idea how to regulate myself.

Being able to to train my endurance albeit very slowly makes me feel like my body is still capable of improving, that it still holds the potential to become stronger and healthier, despite how violently ill I get sometimes when my migraines attack.

So when I got to the point where I could run effortlessly, it simply felt like a miracle. For so many years my body refused to budge when I tried to get it to heal, but when I run, I can feel able – my body is supporting me in ways I could never have imagined in my previous life.

I have never felt connected to my body, even before I got chronically sick. I have memories of always feeling tired, always hating physical education classes, always avoiding physical activity. I was that person who would walk extra steps to find an escalator instead of using the stairs.

When I was unfit, even walking at a slight incline would quickly render me out of breath. These days I spritely jog up steep inclines without missing a beat. Running is the only time I feel unencumbered by my body, that I belong to my body and it belongs to me. I am not just a mind existing awkwardly in an uncomfortable body.

We can work very hard at a lot of things in life without seeing much improvement. But somehow the body will get conditioned (in most cases, except people with certain health conditions, sadly), even one as weak as mine. I see my improvements get reflected in my biometrics, my running pace, how quickly I recover. Even without the pleasure of running itself, I look forward to seeing my numbers improve. It is nice to not rely on gauging my feelings but to let the data tell the truth.

I used to get knocked out after a bout of running. One run in the morning, and I was useless for the rest of the day. Now my energy reserves seem to be increasing – I don’t want to jinx myself of course. I used to feel absolutely wiped out after a short outing: I would need to rest in bed for hours after. Most people don’t know what it is like to feel disabled. We associate disability with some form of a physical impairment. Outwardly I look golden, people have a hard time believing I am sick. The reality is: I could hardly do anything for years and years. Perhaps that is also a major reason why writing is such a crutch for me. No matter how physically tired I get, I can still move my fingers and type. My migraines would take even that away from me.

I can now last half a day out without severe repercussions. It took me so long, so much work to get to this point. That’s why I’m terrified of getting ill again to lose this all.

Despite all my health shortcomings I still managed to work up to being capable of running 5km every day. The runs are feeling less and less difficult. Apart from the initial warm up phase I hardly feel any difficulty. It feels like a breeze, like I am gliding, like I am made to run, like magic.

Every day I look forward to feeling this sense of aliveness, something that is missing from the rest of my day. But I am hoping this bucket of aliveness I generate during my runs would spill over some day, permeating the rest of my hours with a sort of spiritedness that would return me my capacity to be creative again.

Is that asking for too much for a sick person like me?

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