For some reason, my week’s activities move outward from Sunday, from the long run. It might be only six miles, or it could be 18, depending on what I am training toward. Today it was an easy seven-miler at a speed that made me happy. Not blissfully happy, because that would require real speed and probably a new set of lungs, but reasonably happy. Like every week, I approached it with trepidation, fearing I would “fall out,” during the run, or after it. It appears that a gin and tonic coupled with a late night and friends is good for my training because there was no band around my chest during the run, nor faintness afterward. Seems backwards when last week’s good night of sleep and water only produced a painful, frustrating, almost forsaken nine-mile event.
From here, at the finish line of my weekly long run, I can approach the week, knowing I have done that one difficult thing, the one pure thing, already. And I’m not sure what the word “pure” even means here. Running is not necessarily clean, not especially natural, when one conducts it on a machine, in a basement; it’s not even quiet, since my awesome partner, running next to me on another machine, usually creates a playlist of music for each long run. That idea of purity must reflect the superfluity of my long runs. They bring me no external benefit – I do not win races or post good times. If anything, my race times create more tension and bad feelings. The ongoing inability to become faster or perform on race day strains my relationship to the sport. Perhaps more pointedly, the time spent on the treadmill or the trail could be used to further my career if I did research and writing instead. I wish I were one of those people who composed journal articles or even lectures while running. Then I could justify my habit with extrinsic tangible rewards. But I rarely find any kind of academic inspiration during my long run. Yet, each week inevitably runs towards this event and builds away from it.
Perhaps my perversity allows me to perceive the long run as the touch-point, the beginning of and the summation of a week. It is almost constant in a life that I purposefully keep in flux. Few routines, limited schedules… and passports kept at the ready. Not an efficient life. But it does usually involve a long run, once a week.