1,300 kilometres

Last updated Dec 26 2022

1,300 and then some (edit: official tally at exactly 1337km): the amount of kilometres I ran this year. It is the second calendar year in a row in which I've tracked 1,000 or more kilometres, and I wanted to take this moment to reflect on what running has done for me.

I didn't become a runner until recently, whatever becoming a "runner" means. I spend good money on my shoes, but otherwise run in clothing that's become too stretched, too stained, and not appropriate for presentation in society. Most runners I've encountered don't dress up much either, but they do love their shoes and watches.

I began running in earnest at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. No doubt the pandemic had been a wake up call to my unhealthy state, which was invisible to friends and myself. Most of my problems secured away, hidden behind a fake smile, sans the obvious 40lbs of unwanted weight.

Prior to this most recent attempt, I proclaimed running was boring! I'd prefer to participate in a team sport (Ultimate Frisbee was my choice for many years). Gradually, with the growing of our young family, starting anew in the maritime city of Halifax, Canada, and being challenged by the ins and outs of each week (What crisis you have for us next, world?), finding the time and energy to participate in scheduled group activities was ... waning.

Slowly, I learned boring is good. A consistent routine where the only expectations were set by myself. This worked exceptionally well during the COVID-19 pandemic where my busy & complicated head could have a time of day to escape from ✨ everything ✨. These days, the run is a form of daily spring cleaning, helping to (re)build the integrity of my body and mind. The crippling anxiety slowly reduced, so did the dread. The world continued to throw hard balls (at all of us), and it was running which helped me not run out of gas. It offered me daily strength and re-ignited me in surprising ways. It was what I needed for my family but more importantly for myself. For the first time in a long time, I believed in myself again.

The run helped solve the daily problem. This may have been as trivial as what's going on the dinner table tonight to inter-personal challenges and technical problems at work, and so on. I spend the run processing, talking to myself, and listening to others. I step through a conversation. Get into my head, and eventually, I come home. Not tired, but rested. Today's run is done.

It's not all serious, too! My runs began to include a form of public journaling where I engaged with fellow colleagues from the urbanism community of Halifax, through updates on city infrastructure, to mapping bike parking across the city, silly and simple things which at times provided me a destination. Through these runs I encountered many other runners, sharing peace signs, high fives, and smiles — a guaranteed high five coming during the worst of weather, where hardly a runner is to be spotted. I can't feel my face but heck yeah, we're out here loving every minute.

In late 2021, I encountered a post on reddit about a trail running group called the Halifax Hares. This group runs in wooded trails around Halifax and enjoys a 7-9 kilometer run each week, ending the run with some cookies and socials (sometimes at a local pub)

Running began as an anti-social activity yet it was clear engagement with others was important to me. Running with others has been an adjustment, in particular because I am terrible at small talk (thankfully, it's not hard to get into interesting conversations over a few kilometres!), and it has been the Hares which made this easier. A diverse group of friendly, motivated, and inspiring people who are always up to wild things.

Many are ultra runners. Yup, slow (usually trail) running that goes on for 50, 70, 100km. These runs happen over the course of a day, through the night, and challenge every part of the body and mind. I was most inspired by a runner who did his first 100km: He ran through day and night within Cape Breton, NS. He got deep in his head, was bit by something nasty, and he eventually saw the sun rise. Exhausted, fucked up, and happy all at once.

There is a connection here I aim to seek. A connection between the body and mind, where the running passes the threshold of physical pain. It is here where I anticipate the world can disappear and one in which I will be challenged to truly speak to myself.

That is my destination. To get there, I need to run. So, here's to 2023. 🏃