I used to hate running, but I don’t anymore. I’ve talked about this a little bit on this blog in the past, but whenever I do, I never really talk about what my relationship is with it now. To put it simply, if given the choice between going for a run and going for a walk, nine times out of ten I will choose the walk. For a long time, I thought this was a bad thing. I thought that if I was walking instead of running it meant that I wasn’t as dedicated as other people or that I just wasn’t willing to push myself.
The only times I’ve ever gone through stages of running a lot have been when my brain has been so full of emotions and I haven’t had another way of dealing with them. I ran so much before starting at my second high school because I was so stressed about not fitting in. In May of 2017 I ran almost every day because I was heartbroken and had taken to pounding out my anger on pavement. Last summer, when I kept spiraling into anxiety, I bought a stationary bike and used that instead since it was so hot to run outside. After my nineteenth birthday I ran every morning because I felt out of control and wanted to control just one thing (this is probably unhealthy, but that’s just where I was at the time). During A Wrinkle in Time, I fully expected to go back into a spurge of running every day because, statistically speaking, I expected to fully break down and need to run in order to pick myself up again. But somehow, that didn’t happen. Instead, I found myself going on a lot of walks.
It started when one of the cast members of AWIT had to leave. I was completely heartbroken, and so were the people playing the Father and Mother. In order to process it all, we went for a two hour walk after the first rehearsal with the new actor. Later, on a random Tuesday, one of those same friends was clearly going through something. Since I had figured out what was going on, he started talking about it, and I suggested that we go for a walk. We walked out of College Place, which, from the dorm to the sign is about 2.5 miles. That walk has now become a tradition for me. Through the rest of AWIT, I did that walk with three of my favorite people, all the while processing emotions. The show brought out a lot in us, and walking was how a lot of us chose to figure it out. Since the end, I have continued walking almost every evening. Since the sun goes down later here, I go out around 8:30 and walk for about an hour during the sunset.
What I’ve discovered is that it doesn't really matter if I’m running or if I’m walking, what matters is I am taking care of myself. And, what I’ve discovered, is that my mental health is better when I choose to walk. Not because I’m not running, but because I don’t feel the need to. I will still go for a run every once in a while, because there are parts of it that I do like. I love running in cool air, especially in warming seasons because the air smells really good due to flowers. I love listening to louder music and letting my thoughts disappear for a bit. But the thing about walking, and especially with my “walk out of College Place,” is that it forces me to contemplate. I don’t like listening to music when I walk. I enjoy the two and a half of miles of processing what is going on in my head. So, no, I don’t hate running anymore. I choose not to because I am not in a place where avoiding vulnerability with myself is a good thing. I am in a place where consciously thinking about what is going on in myself and my world is really helpful.
Someday, I will probably wind up in a stage of running again, and that won’t be bad either. It just means that I’ll need to process things differently. And, honestly, there are worse ways to process. Physically, running is good for me regardless of how my mental health is. But I do love walking, and I do love my walk out of College Place. I’ll miss it a lot while I’m in California this summer. For now I am very happy to continue my nightly tradition for the next twelve days, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a walk.
Every time I reach this point, I hit the sign with my hand, and then turn around and stand outside of College Place for a moment before heading back to campus.