What Matters Today: A Morning Run

There’s nothing like summer to me. The brilliance of the sun, its peak position in the sky. The blue of the dome that arches overhead, the white ice cream-swirl clouds that sometimes fill it. The heat, the warm air that feels like the oven left on in the home of the world. The sunrises and sunsets, each casting a glow over the full trees and the bloomed flowers. This time of year, to me, is enchanting. Everything exists in technicolor in my eyes.

Sometimes, however, this favorite season of mine can get to be unruly, letting its heat make fast friends with humidity, combining to form days of unbearably heavy air. Even stepping out for a dip in the pool can feel like a chore, let alone trying to set out for a slow walk.

This is problematic for me, perhaps my one beef with summer.

I am not a person who likes to sit still — or at least sit still for very long. I like to take long walks around my neighborhood, and sometimes, I’ll fight the humidity to do just that. Maybe I’ll wake up early and take a stroll before the heat and humidity descend on the day in full. Or, maybe I’ll decide to just sweat through it. Walks are easy.

It’s running that’s…well…stickier.

I have always been a bit fascinated by running, even before I made a concerted effort to actually pick up the sport. I recall wanted to play soccer because of the way players flew down and up the field (not because I had nearly enough foot-eye coordination to do so). The first time I was tasked with running around my high school’s track — and couldn’t even make it around once without huffing and puffing — I took it as a personal challenge, a call that the thing I have long admired is the very thing I need to improve upon.

And so I did. Slowly, in fits and starts. On and off through college, and again as I started my first “big-girl” jobs. I was always improving, though not as steadily as I wanted. Slowly, however, my goal with running shifted from progress on distance and speed, to running as often as I could because of the head-clearing effect it had for me.

Then came Covid-19.

Suddenly, I had more free time than ever to fill. What was I to do with this newly-abundant resource? What was I going to do when I needed to cleanse my brain the most of the world’s newfound stresses?

Run, of course.

I started going daily after I concluded my work for the day. In the spring time, when the late afternoons were still cool(er) and the sun was ever so slightly lower in the sky, this worked well. I started with running the distance of a 5K in those afternoons post-work.

Summer hit, and late afternoons became out of the question. What’s a girl to do when all she wants to do is dump the contents of her brain out onto the pavement with every step taken and mile logged?!

Ah, yes, we get up earlier! That’s the ticket. I started waking up early just to log some miles, which started racking up quite quickly: four then five, suddenly seven and eight, then one day, nine. All in one morning before the rest of my little slice of the world so much as stepped out of bed for a stretch.

It was exhilarating to not only make such progress, but also to shake the cobwebs from my head and find some early-morning clarity.

But then we hit a week like this one, where even the early morning hours were not only hot, but at 100% humidity. Sadly, I had to settle for a walk throughout most of the week.

That is, until this morning, when the humidity finally put itself in check for being a little too friendly with my pal heat and settled back down into the acquaintance tier of the weather friend zone. By 7 a.m., I had my new Adidas road running shoes laced up, and I was off. Nearly 9 miles later, I was one satisfied — and disgustingly sweaty — girl.

So what matters today is finally being able to do something I love in the season of the year I love most. What matters today is finding a respite in running from my overthinking brain and my over-feeling heart. What matters today are the sun and the sky and the air and trees, all of which I got to marvel at throughout the miles of my run. What matters today is my able body that can physically pull off such a run, one that I was unable to do not so long ago. What matters today is the calming and cleansing shower that followed my satisfying and sweaty run.

Above all, what matters most is time, the gift of which I now get to appreciate in abundance, both by doing things I love and spending it with those I love.