The first time I ran regularly was when I was a teenager. I traced the 1200 meter round we did in middle school, but it gave me little joy.
I ran because I was unhappy with my weight and this was the only sport readily available to me. It was a chore, not a pleasure. As it turned out, it also helped me precious little with losing weight.
I had toyed with the idea of running again and again during the years, but it rarely came to anything. I’m an intense all or nothing kind of person, so I had the tendency to give everything in the first five minutes then I barely had any energy left to drag myself around.
I also didn’t like the idea of passersby seeing me with chili red face ans dishevelled hair.
Between 2018 and 2020 I went to the gym multiple times a week to jog for almost an hour on the elliptic bike. Again, it sadly did nothing for my stamina or my weight, but something started to change in me: exercising became a way to deal with stress and anxiety – arguably better than sitting at home in the clutches of terror waiting for the fear to go away.
Around this time I first read Harukami Murakami’s book This is What I talk about when I talk about running that had a profound effect on me and also gave me the crazy idea that I would want to run the marathon one day.
During the lockdown of 2020 when the gyms were closed I took up walking. It was my way of “taking a holiday” from my life, from my thoughts. I wrote complete scenes while walking on the riverside, listening to music, imagining myself to a better place.
As I have mentioned under N, the Nanowrimo of 2020 was a magical experience. I was in a very bad place in my life (and I hadn’t even fully realised it) I was lost and insomniac… long story short, it was a bad time.
But miracles often happen in the deepest darkness.
I decided to write OBFABF – Our Best Friend’s Alien Boyfriend because, as the title suggests, it looked like a fun story. About Juniper, a slightly salty teen who is convinced that their new classmate is an alien. Being a woman of science, she draws up her theory and sets out to test it. Sounds fun, right?
Well, enters my subconscious, the treacherous b. Turns out Juniper has sass and salt yes, but what she also has is teenage angst, insecurities, and anger issues. She used to get into fight with bigger boys when they were picking on her sister so her parents were advised to find her a way to channel her energies. Thanks to running, Juniper learnt to transform her weakness into a strength. It’s her way to sublimate her anger and to calm her head.
Just like Rory paved the way for me with the piano, Juniper got me closer to running.
Last year I had too many thoughts and feelings and my body (and my mind) just felt too small to store them. I wrote a lot, but it wasn’t enough. I had this tension and I needed to find a new way to get it out.
At this point I had no f*cks left to give about either my weight or the opinion of others. I ran for my sanity. I’m not great. But I don’t have to be great. I have to be good enough. Good enough to finish the round in one way or another. Brave enough to start even if I feel like I can’t finish.
Last March and April I was living in a limbo – having moved out from the conjugal home but not in our new flat share yet, I spent weeks crashing in the guest room of friends. (For which I will be forever grateful :3 ) After a time the restlessness in me grew unbearable. The solution seemed obvious: I needed to run. I borrowed trainers from my graceful hostesses (luckily, I’m an inverse Cinderella with the most average foot size you can imagine.)
I ran along the river next to which I used to walk (but a different part of the bank), I ran around a town hall. And life was becoming more bearable.
Then I arrived to Creteil and the lake seduced me to run longer and longer distances. One day I was surprised to notice that I was able to do the whole 4-kilometre round.
I started with converse sport shoes, but they had super thin soles and I could feel the impact of my feet hitting the road every step.
When I was sure enough that the running bug won’t go away, I invested in “Road Blaster” Asics running shoes that I kindly named “Blastie.”
They became my faithful companions in my lake rounds.
I jumped up and headed for the garden gate. I didn’t have time to put on my shoes, the well-manicured lawn under my feet gave way to dust and tiny pebbles that bit into my sole. I didn’t care. The pain somehow grounded me to reality. I tried to go on the road but its black asphalt had absorbed too much heat so it was like running on embers.
The world around me was incredibly peaceful. The corn stalks swayed slowly in the gentle breeze, clouds floated on the too clear sky. There were no cars near or far, nor any other sign of life. I could have been all alone in the planet. Maybe then my life would be easier, not being annoyed by others. Who I was kidding though, I could upset myself alone. I couldn’t run away from myself. But sometimes when I was on the road my mind went to sleep and left me some peace.
But I couldn’t keep avoiding him forever, so I braced myself for judgement and pity.
I saw only understanding and concern.
“What do you do when you have an emotional overcharge?” he asked.
I blinked at him.
“When you are angry? Or sad?” he explained.
Oh, that was easy.
“Okay,” he said and got up, unfolding his ridiculously long legs.
“Okay?” I asked, looking up at him with eyes still sticky with tears. I wiped them away with my sleeve.
“Let’s run then.” He held out his hand and I took it without thinking. He pulled me up as if I didn’t weigh anything at all. “Down to the Check? It should be approximately 1,7 kilometres. Ideal soothing distance.”