What I think about when I’m running (with apologies to Haruki Murakami)…

Mostly I think about running.

Having just started again some nine years – and one knee operation! – after I ran the London Marathon, the predominant current thought is “this used to be easier”! There was a time when I’d think nothing of a fourteen-mile training run, over two hours non-stop, at a pace these days I can only dream about. Now fourteen furlongs feels like an achievement…

I also have vague recollections about ‘the zone’, that blissful state of harmony when running is just easy. I miss that. I jog now (not run) trying to build the miles up again, hoping to rediscover some part of that experience.

Right now, when I’m running and I’m not thinking of running (if you see what I mean), I try and think about what I’m writing. It’s ‘free time’ in many respects, and I try to imagine what might come next – prose or poetry – or I generate opinions about what I have just written. Both of these can be useful, affirming moments.

So I think about running, and I strive for Zen. I think about writing, and I guess I’m striving for Zen there too. Both activities are solitary, about pushing yourself, about goals, ambitions. They are about achieving things: distance = word count, time/pace = schedule. They are also both about self-esteem and self-respect; about a sense of worth; about proving something to no-one but myself.

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