R – Running


There was a man in his early forties who liked to run . Running was very important for him and he loved it. He often joked with his friends that if one day he would not be able to run anymore he would then probably die. He used to run alone. Partly because he travelled a lot of for work , partly because he had just relocated in a new country and did make the step to search for a runners’ club yet.

Now and then while running he would think how nice it would be to run with a group of  friends.  Speak about the day. Gossiping a a bit about others. Testing our fitness by increasing the pace in the last kilometer or so. Then go back home with a nice feeling of tiredness. He would think about this but he would continue to procrastinate and not go to enquiry about running clubs in the new town where he had just moved with his family.

In the end, he thought, it is nice also to run alone. That one hour or so, every second day was really his time, only his. He used to feel a pang of guilt by going for his runs when the kids where small and leave his wife alone with them. For many years he would rush his last kilometers and stop at six, even though he would have wished to run eight.

This feeling of guilt would of course not emerge in his runs while overseas for work. he would then go to the usual track in Van Phuc in Hanoi, Orchid bay in Dar es Salaam, or in London from Waterloo along South bank, to the Tate Modern, across the Thames on the Millennium bridge and turn back just in front of St Paul.

These runs were also the time for thoughts and ideas. It had happened in the past that while running he would come up with the right title for an article. The right  incipit of a chapter of a book. The correct adjective to define the emotion and mood of a one character in a book.

Lately, however, he found himself thinking about something he felt he had to say to his wife but could not pun into words. He felt an anxiety that came form nowhere and that he could not translate into words.  Not even running, which had helped him with his books and writings seemed to work. He would find himself immersed in several conversations at the same time but too fast to be put into words. there were more emotional conversations with himself. Yes he felt that he owed an explanation, but could not find the way to start or the right word.

One evening, the track and field was quite empty due to the rain in the afternoon. The track had few potholes and small frogs jumped here and there between the white lines on the red surface of the track.  At one point he seemed to get it: ‘Yes, know I know what is going on.’ and for some seconds he felt a new energy in his legs driven by a sense of relief. he had found the right words, a story made of feelings and emotions which flowed almost logically in his mind. he had planned a 8k run, but cut it short to 6k in order not too loose his words. Jumped on the bicycle and rode back home. Reached the intersection near his house. Saw the  outdoor lights on. Lights in the living room. Opened the gate and head the voice of one of his daughters: ‘Papa’ is back’. Then the front door opened and  she ran out to hug him. She hugged him as strongly as she could and he did the same. The he stood up. Took her on his lap and entered the house. Looked around and heard that his wife and their other daughters were in the shower. They had all already eaten. His daughter asked him if she could watch TV, to which he said yes. He then sat  at the table to have his dinner. He looked into the various pots and took some rice on his plate. His wife came into the room. their other daughters sat also in front of the TV. ‘How was your run?’ He looked at her but did not feel anymore that certainty that was with him until the gate. The words which were so clear in his minds until few minutes earlier had disappeared in that inexplicable flow of emotions which was within him and which he did not know where did it come from.

1 Comment

  1. Jean-Christophe says

    The emotions that running can generate is beautifully put in words in this post. Thank you for sharing these with us. Jean-Christophe

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